Here it is. Election day, Finally! It has been a raucous campaign cycle. On the national level, President Obama and Governor Romney have exchanged body blows for 18 months. Here in Utah, Mayor Mia Love and Congressmen Jim Matheson, if the rules would have allowed it, might have entered an MMA ring to determine who would win the 4th congressional district in Utah.
The nastiness of the battles have many longing for the more gentile days of American politics, particularly hearkening back to the stately, distinguished days of our founding fathers, to which I say, "what are you smoking?"
Our political history is littered with smear campaigns, lies and even murder. In fact you could argue the founding father's wrote the book on ugly politics. Historian Edward Larson said of the FF's "They could write like angels and scheme like demons,"
Thomas "The Brawler," Jefferson VS. John "The Crippler," Adams
As George Washington prepared for retirement from the presidency, a frenzied fight was unfolding behind the scenes. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, with the help of their surrogates, where as Larson suggests, "scheming" to be the next president. Jefferson hired James Callendar to do a hit job on Adams, and Callendar did it in spades writing that Adams was:
"a hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."
Did the guy on the two dollar bill just call John Adams a "hermaphrodite?"
Adams wasn't a saint either, in return, the team that supported the soon-to-be second president of the United States and signer of the Constitution said this of Jefferson:
"a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father ... raised wholly on hoe-cake (made of coarse-ground Southern corn), bacon, and hominy, with an occasional change of fricasseed bullfrog. ..."
Team Adams was also quick to label Jefferson, who supported the French Revolution, a dictatorial, homicidal maniac if elected.
"Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will all be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes."
The Pimp VS. The Killer
In the election of 1812, Andrew Jackson accused John Quincy Adams of serving as a pimp for the Russian Czar, to return the favor, Adams suggested that Jackson had killed defectors during his time as a general during the war of 1812.
Miscellaneous Pot Shots
1) Davy Crockett accused the portly Martin Van Buren of wearing a corset.
2) Opponents of President James Buchanan, who had a congenital condition that caused his head to tilt to the left, started a whisper campaign claiming that J.B. had once tried to unsuccessfully hang himself.
3) Grover Cleveland was accused by his opponent James Blaine of fathering an illegitimate child, that he allegedly left fatherless. At Blaine rally's the crowd would chant, "Ma, Ma, where's my pa?" After Cleveland won the presidency, that year, his supporters responded with the chant, "gone to the White House, Ha, ha, ha!"
The Big Ugly
Politics never got as ugly as it did in 1800's when Aaron Burr, Vice-President of the United States called out Alexander Hamilton for a duel. Burr, was about to be dropped from the Jefferson ticket and had lost a couple of political races and he felt that Hamilton was the guy who'd done him in politically. In 1804 he shot and killed Hamilton in New Jersey.
After Hamilton died, President Jefferson did indeed dump Burr, probably not a bad idea, Ironically Burr was never charged with killing Hamilton. Burr would spend the rest of his life trying to start revolutions and generally raising hell around the world.
So, as you pine for the good ol' days this election day remember the words of Billy Joel, "The good old days weren't always good, and tomorrow's not as bad as it seems."