Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Thank God this election is nearly over. Colorado has a huge list of ballot measures. Plus we're a battleground state in the presidential race. The radio and TV ads are so numerous, and annoying, that I wish for the days of ads for medications with worse side effects than the problem being solved, for lawyers who think everyone is a victim and for crazy car dealers.

Part of the problem too is commentators with no sense of history. I hear countless talking heads yammering on about how this is the most bitter election in history. And I'm left thinking back to 1860. Back then half the country was threatening to leave if the election didn't go their way. That has not been mentioned as a possibility this year.

The personal attacks in ads are also pointed out as an example of the bitterness of this election. But in 1856 congressman Preston Brooks beat Senator Charles Sumner with his cane on the Senate floor. Brooks resigned his seat in the House of Representatives but his constituents considered him a hero and reelected him. True Sumner was not running against Brooks but when congressmen are fighting on the Senate floor (or actually Sumner was receiving a severe beating while another congressman, Laurence Keitt, prevented anyone from coming to Sumner's aid by brandishing a pistol) calling someone a cheat or a liar in a campaign ad does not seem that horrible.

In any respect its all over today. I'll be glad to see the return of all those other ads. I know the actual final tally might take a few more days to be 100% sure who the winner was but at least those horrible ads will be done. And maybe some talking heads will read a book before 2012 and will realize that while modern elections are bitter and filled with name calling and false accusations they do not measure up with the tumultuous times we went through roughly 150 years ago. In fact I bet if we truly dissected all the old campaigns we would find out that generally campaigns bring out the worst in people, they say things about the other party and their candidates that they would normally not say. I'd be willing to bet that there has never been a campaign that has been a 100% rational discussion of the issues involved with no exaggerations made by either side.

1 comment:

markerhunter said...

I like the lines "...this state traditionally votes Democrat/Repulican...." then proceed to discuss recent history back to the Kennedy years. Sort of discounts broader perspective of political history by washing it with the more recent (30 years or so of) trends. Either the party lines have no historical context... or they do. And if they do, then by golly the media commentators should at least take the time to get things right.