1sunfight’s Weblog

August 24, 2008

Founding Fathers the Architects of Negative Campaigning

Filed under: Biden,Daily Observations,McCain,Obama,politics,Uncategorized — Julie P @ 12:28 pm
Tags: , , ,

It started out innocently enough; Thomas Jefferson and John Adams did not see eye to eye on doing the nation’s business, which became an argument, then it became a fight, then it became a bitter dispute fought in the nation’s press during a presidential election with slurs getting thrown about with wild abandon, especially by Thomas Jefferson’s hatchet man. Negative campaigning would be used again during two other presidential campaigns, ironically enough, during the Era of Good Feelings between John Adams, Jr. and Andrew Jackson.

In the election year of 1800 Thomas Jefferson accused John Adams of having a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.” with John Adams swinging back “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.” Thomas Jefferson’s hatchet man later went on to say that John Adams wanted to attack France, which won Thomas Jefferson the election; later Jefferson’s hatchet man would turn on him and accuse of him having an affair with his slave Sally Hemmings and fathering five children by her. That slur stuck with him and would follow him throughout history.

The election of 1820 and 1824 did not fare any better with John Adams, Jr. getting called an elitist and Andrew Jackson’s wife getting labeled a slut. Backgrounds became an issue as well, with John Adams, Jr. having an Ivy League education and fine pedigree and Andrew Jackson coming from a common background and nearly self taught, which horrified Adam’s supporters. They claimed Jackson’s lack of education and political experience disqualified him to be president, a tact that Jackson would use to his advantage by linking himself with the common American on the street. Jackson won the election and presidential candidates since then have not run a campaign without trying to link themselves with the ordinary American.

And so it began the negative campaigning, the scourge of American politics; the reason why too many Americans only look at sound bites, and labels to elect our president and other political leaders; our Founding Fathers invented negative campaigning that has become part of our culture and has turned too many voters into blind, ignorant followers of emotional blackmail that has gotten too many politicians elected to office who are not qualified to lead.

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