We are Getting Close to the Election of 1800

Back in the day POTUS elections were about competing ideas.  Right?

Not really.

Today Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump a racist.  Trump responded by calling Clinton a bigot.

We are getting close to the rhetoric of the campaign of 1800, although it is worth noting that little of the language in this video came directly from the mouth of the candidates–John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

One thought on “We are Getting Close to the Election of 1800

  1. Back in the day POTUS elections were about competing ideas. Right?

    Not really.

    Today Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump a racist. Trump responded by calling Clinton a bigot.

    1800 was about religion, 2106 about race?

    Adams complained he lost 1800 on religion.

    http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/stevenwaldman/2008/11/did-john-adams-lose-his-electi.html

    “I was represented as a Presbyterian and at the head of this political and ecclesiastical Project. The secret whisper ran through them ‘Let us have Jefferson, Madison, Burr, any body, whether they be Philosophers, Deists, or even Atheists, rather than a Presbyterian President.’

    The biggest irony being that Adams was a theological unitarian, not an orthodox [Trinitarian] Christian of any stripe.

    Will Trump lose on race? It’s moot whether or not he is actually a racist–in electoral politics, perception equals reality.

    Or will Hillary lose because like the Adams supporters who accused Jefferson of atheism, her campaign [and her party] are too tied up in trying to win on race and painting Trump as insufficiently pious towards the PC gods?

    Frankly, I don’t know how the historian can do much more than identify the dynamics at work. If the 2016 electorate gets as sick of race talk as it got with religion talk in 1800, well, the Democratic Party hasn’t won the white vote since 1964: Without a disproportionate chunk of the non-white vote, this–or any national–election is not competitive.

    In 1800, the electorate decided they didn’t care much about Jefferson and his religion. In 2016, Hillary and the Democratic Party must stake everything on Trump and race.

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