The 2016 presidential campaign season has been exceptionally entertaining of late—not to mention disgusting, enraging, and outright maddening. So when I ran across this article that I originally posted in this space on October 31, 2012 (and we thought that campaign was appalling!), I decided it was just too applicable not to post again, with a couple of minor updates. I apologize for the rerun, but since several years have passed I hope it entertains you again as much as it did me!
Every presidential campaign season I ruminate on the history of American politics, and since the current primary race is so, um, interesting—and we haven’t even gotten to the main event yet—I thought this would be a timely and lively topic to revisit. We hear a lot of complaints about personal attack ads and dirty tricks, especially from the politicians who are themselves most guilty of using them. But you don’t have to do much digging to discover that political chicanery is a time-honored American tradition that has been exercised with glee since America was still a collection of British colonies on the course toward revolution. So let’s take a quick tour of some of the more egregious examples from our nation’s history.
YouTube video. You might want to also check out some of the others that show up on the sidebar for additional entertainment. And you thought our modern politics was bad!
In 1840, American politician Thomas Elder wrote to a friend that “Passion and prejudice properly aroused and directed do about as well as principle and reason in any party contest.” Every campaign season we see the proof of that claim.
So what do you think about the current presidential election? Has the political scene improved any since this article was posted in 2012 or has it degraded even further? What are your main (nonpartisan only!) gripes about American political campaigns? What, if anything, can be done to change things?
~~~J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers, an author, editor, and publisher, and a lifelong student of history. Her novel Northkill, Book 1 of the Northkill Amish Series coauthored with Bob Hostetler, won ForeWord Magazine’s 2014 INDYFAB Book of the Year Bronze Award for historical fiction. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. One Holy Night, a contemporary retelling of the Christmas story, was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year.