Past Elections

November 4, 2010

This midterm election has become one of the more vitriolic in recent memory and many voters have become turned off (even frightened) by the rhetoric. As bad as allusions to “Second Amendment Solutions” and other over the top craziness coming from the right wing may seem, the history of past elections suggests that this election is only lukewarm. For example, take the election of 1800.

The election of 1800 featured a rematch of Adams and Jefferson, Federalists vs. Republicans (the good kind) North vs. South (and West). Adams led the conservative Federalists, who attempted to stifle dissent with the “Alien and Sedition Act” which was used to jail their critics. They also supported Britain in their cold war against France and accused their political opponents of supporting terrorism on the frontier.

Jefferson led the liberal Republicans (an oxymoron today) and supported France and their revolution against monarchy. In those days all the print media was like Fox News today: highly partisan, not concerned with facts and owned by rich men with their own agenda. Accusations about treason, sexual immorality and criminality were common. Calls to violence were also not unusual. Add to that volatile mix the fact that political rallies routinely began with serving whiskey and you can imagine how old white men with three-cornered hats behaved then compared to ones today!

We survived the election of 1800 and plenty worse after, and we will survive this one too – unless of course, people don’t vote.