Accusations of sexual misconduct. Choruses of liar, dirty tricks, coward and dictator.
Warnings of war. Allegations of ineligibility.
Using sympathetic media to not only cushion a candidacy but to spread propaganda about opponents.
What would our Founding Fathers think of this behavior?
Well, since this is describing the 1800 campaign between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, they must have considered it business as usual.
During this highly political and dirty campaign, many citizens thought their very young country would not survive such a vicious display between presidential candidates. Two men that just 24 years earlier stood together against England and composed theDeclaration of Independence, were now at war with each other. The past four years they were the two highest elected officials in this new country; President Adams, a big government Federalist, and Vice-President Jefferson, a small government Democratic-Republican. Now, they were the worst of enemies.
Adams supporters suggested, “we would see our wives and daughters the victims of legal prostitution,” and “murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will openly be taught and practiced,” if Jefferson were elected.Jefferson people responded in kind, calling Adams a liar, a “repulsive pedant”, and a “gross hypocrite”. Going even further, Adams was described as behaving “neither like a man nor like a woman but instead possessed a hideous hermaphroditical character.” That’s being born with both male and female sex organs, folks.
After the election was held and Jefferson was victorious, another problematic issue arose. Both Jefferson and his running mate, Aaron Burr had received 73 electoral votes each. At the time, there was not a distinction between votes for President and for Vice-President. It was strictly majority wins. While the issue was rectified with the 12th Amendment in 1804, this election went to the House of Representatives, which at the time was still full of lame-duck Federalists to break the tie.
Alexander Hamilton, who vehemently despised Burr, led the charge to convince House members Jefferson would be the lesser of two evils. Burr lost favor with Jefferson as well as he started actively trying to steal the Presidency after running as Jefferson’s VP. Jefferson eventually won the House election and Burr received the Vice-Presidency, largely due to Hamilton’s involvement. The two continued feuding on both personal and political issues until July 11, 1804, when Burr challenged Hamilton to a dual and shot him. Burr was never prosecuted even though Hamilton died the next day. He apparently could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not loose support.
Things were not much better during the re-election campaign of President John Quincy Adams against Andrew Jackson. Jackson’s wife, Rachel Donelson, had been married to Lewis Robart, an abusive and obsessively jealous man. After finally leaving him, Rachel was told Lewis had divorced her. In truth, he had just petitioned the State of Kentucky for a divorce on the grounds of desertion. Rachel and Jackson then married only to discover Lewis never followed through with the divorce. Once Lewis discovered she remarried, he did obtain an official divorce and Jackson and Rachel quietly remarried.
Though the mixup was understood by friends and family, political opponents used it as a way to paint Jackson as an adulterer and Rachel as a bigamist. Imagine what they would have done with a candidate who openly bragged about his affairs with married women. A strong, Christian woman, Rachel was completely dismayed by the slander. The trumped up scandal took it’s toll on Rachel and shortly after Jackson was elected, she suffered a severe heart attack. She died before he was inaugurated.
The only thing more disgusting than the ugliness of politics is the disingenuous behavior of the media. They pit the candidates against each other, asking questions designed specifically to cause attacks against each other, and then act appalled when the mud starts flying. “Tell us how disgusting your opponent is,” followed by “I can’t believe what you just said about your opponent.” Ted Cruz exposed this in the first debate by calling the moderators out, repeating one-by-one their agenda driving questions. He ended by reminding them, “This is not a cage match.”
It’s no wonder the Main Steam Media has lost its relevance in the world and more and more people are turning to sites like this one for their news. They are drug dealers who give free drugs to get people hooked, and then criticize and demean the addict for wanting and needing a fix.
The Democratic-Republican Party eventually split in the late 1820’s. One group followed Andrew Jackson and formed the Democratic Party. The other group followed John Quincy Adams and formed the National Republican Party, which soon evolved into the Whig Party. Around the same time, the Federalist Party completely dissolved as well with its members also integrating into the two newly formed parties.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson eventually mended their broken relationship and spent years engaging in a friendly correspondence until their deaths. The two men both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, each feeling outwitted by the other for being outlived, as neither knew of the other’s death.
As a good majority of us cringe with every ugly assault lobbed this primary season, even our Founding Fathers stumbled into the same pit of degradation we are today.
Even so, I’d rather be there than in a dictatorial, authoritarian or fascist system where we don’t have the freedom to voice our objections. How we emerge at the end of this cycle, I don’t know, but in 1800 the two political parties died within 30 years. I would say most American’s, both Republicans and Democrats, would be pretty ok with that today. Maybe we’re just ripping off the bandaid, enduring short-term pain by exposing the wound, so we can begin healing once the sting is gone. At least, that’s what I’m praying for.
But that’s just my 2 cents.