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Civility's not really all its cracked up to be

I mean, really though, who didn’t laugh at Joe Biden’s derisive reactions during the vice presidential debates? Probably Republicans, now that I think about it, but if you’re not a Republican, I bet you were having a grand time. When Obama or Romney make snarky remarks to each other, my friends and I start laughing because we’ve finally got a glimpse of how enraged these candidates are at each other for spreading so many lies over the last eight months.
Incivility makes candidates human.
Some people would say that mudslinging and name-calling are just a sign of how far the level of political discourse has fallen in the last 60 years or so. We are told that our Founding Fathers were eloquent, dignified gentlemen who dealt solely with high-minded issues like the nature of human rights and the morality of rebellion. I would like to counter that with “Jefferson is the son of a half-breed Indian squaw raised on hoe-cakes.”
Well that escalated rather quickly, didn’t it? That quote comes from one of Jefferson’s political opponents who felt the need to call into question the racial heritage of one of our most distinguished Founding Fathers. Surely Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of our beloved Declaration of Independence, would rise above such dirty campaigning.
“John Adams is a hideous hermaphroditical character with neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”
Evidently not. Call an ambulance; John Adams got burned.
This is the height of incivility. This is far worse than anything you’re going to hear from Obama or Romney this election season. But tell me you didn’t laugh. Tell me that next time you read something written by ol’ TJ, you won’t remember this and smile a little bit.
Really, though, to those who believe that we’ve only recently gotten down in the mud during political campaigns, I must disagree. The Federalists painted Jefferson in the election of 1800 as much worse than the Republicans are painting Obama right now. They said that were he elected, “Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will 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.”
That’s a pretty heavy charge to levy, and you would never hear something like that today. In the election of 1864, the Democrats printed a poster alleging that if Lincoln won again, they would have “universal anarchy and ultimate ruin.” Again, baseless accusations.
These kinds of politics would never be tolerated today. There is no basis for these claims. Media Matters would have been all over Democrat George McClellan’s presidential campaign if they existed back in the day. We have significantly raised the level of political discourse, in fact, if only because we have access to vast databases of quotes and voting records of our candidates these days.
I long for the days when we could hear people calling a presidential candidate “a Creole b---ard brat of a Scotch pedlar.” (They were talking about Alexander Hamilton, by the way.)
Tell me you wouldn’t buy The New York Times if that were on the front page every day. Politicians could single-handedly save print journalism if only they were to start talking like this again.
Before we complain about disregard for moderators and eye-rolling during debates, perhaps we should take a step back and employ a historical perspective and examine how we have evolved past the 1800s.

Alexandra Williamson is a senior accountancy major from Frisco, Texas. Follow her on Twitter @alyxwi.