Complaints about the 2016 election are rather easy to come by, no matter where one stands on the political spectrum this year. Some are legit, most are just so much whining, largely because access to the Internet and social media seems to morph otherwise delightful people into chronic complainers.
A frequent refrain throughout this past year has been about the “unusually nasty tone” of this election, which is a claim that can only be made by people who are ignoring American history. In fact, it’s been almost all downhill since shortly after George Washington up his political career.
Negative campaigning in the United States can be traced back to John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Back in 1776, the dynamic duo combined powers to help claim America’s independence, and they had nothing but love and respect for one another. But by 1800, party politics had so distanced the pair that, for the first and last time in U.S. history, a president found himself running against his VP.
That had to make the state dinners a little awkward.
Absent historical context (Thanks, public education!), young voters in America really do think this election is special.
The exceptionally negative tone of this year’s race for the White House is souring young Americans, turning some away from the democratic process just as the millennial generation has become as large a potential bloc of voters as the baby boomers.
Reuters/Ipsos polling shows that Americans aged 18 to 34 are slightly less likely to vote for president this year than their comparably aged peers were in 2012. Some political scientists worry that this election could scar a generation of voters, making them less likely to cast ballots in the future.
Lazy media types repeating lines like “exceptionally negative tone” help to reinforce the myth that we are all undergoing some sort of super dark time this year.
Many historians agree that the nastiest presidential election happened almost 200 years ago:
Every four years, the media declares the current election to be the dirtiest in history. While it is true that negative campaigning wins elections, and every campaign does have its share of dirty tricks, no modern presidential campaign can really claim the banner of filthiest ever. Not yet anyway. Because that title belongs to an election none of us witnessed. The dishonor of dirtiest presidential campaign in history goes to the Andrew Jackson/John Quincy Adams contest of 1828.
American media has spent the last several days getting the vapors over the phrase “nasty woman”. Pro-Adams media in 1828 was calling Andrew Jackson’s mother a “common prostitute”.
Google the 1972 campaign if you need a more recent example of unpleasantness, and let us not forget that the current Democratic nominee wasn’t particularly charitable when running against the current Democratic president just eight years ago.
No, millennial snowflakes, you are not living through anything extraordinary as far as the tone goes in any presidential election. You are just being told that you are and because you weren’t taught any real history, you have no frame of reference to know that you’re being lied to.
The MSM would also have you believe that they are being particularly harsh on Donald Trump because he’s extra super scary or something. Wrong, this is how they treat every Republican presidential nominee at this point in the cycle. In October of 2012, they were describing Mitt Romney as a sexist animal abuser who gave a woman cancer. That was after they exhausted themselves finding the one kid Romney was mean to in high school.
Don’t buy the hype, kiddos. The press wants you depressed and worried because you’re easier to manipulate when you are. Politics is rough, and the people who don’t have to flee for a box of tissues after every slight to their candidate are the ones who end up influencing things.
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