Election 2014

Was this Campaign Season the Nastiest Ever?


Candidate x is a flip-flopping, war-mongering, power-hungry liar. Candidate y is an entitled elitest with no work ethic, and also a liar. That's what this year's attack ads would lead us to believe.

But was this campaign season exceptionally nasty?

Reason TV presents a look back at the campaign ads of yesteryear. 

The story was originally published on October 28, 2010. The original text is below:

Have this year's negative political ads really "taken dirty to a whole new level, as CNN's Anderson Cooper frets? Is a "return to civility…a relic of a bygone era," as President Barack Obama laments?

Er, not exactly. 

If anonymous political speech, the other widely decried villain of this political season, helped found the United States, attack ads are as American as apple pie. If you fancy yourself a patriot or a history buff, you will most certainly approve this message, which is taken from statements made by, for, and against the nation's founders.

Approximately 1.45 minutes. Written and produced by Meredith Bragg. Voiced by Caleb Brown, Michael C. Moynihan, and Austin Bragg.

Check out "The Positives of Negative Campaigning," why "Attack Ads Are Good For You." and Reason's 2006 list of the "Top 10 Dirtiest Political Campaigns" in U.S. history.

For links to those stories and historical sources of the statements made in the video go to 

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  1. This is a worth re-run.

    1. worthy, not worth.

  2. Anyone who thinks that our era is particularly nasty knows NOTHING about U.S. history. It got so bad in 1857 San Francisco was seized by the “Vigilance Committee” and rose up in insurrection against the State of California as a response to politically motivated murders that followed an election in which a candidate who wasn’t on the ballot won with more than 100% of the vote for his district. And the strange thing is that public opinion was against the Vigilants in most of the country. Outright fraud and violent suppression of the vote was considered fine in most place. So, again, anyone who thinks it’s bad today knows nothing.

  3. I’ve read that 1912 (Wilson v. T. Roosevelt with Taft almost an afterthought) was particularly nasty.

    1. I tend to think politics would be better off if it could drop its ridiculous air of respectability and go back to calling one another honeyfuglers and puzzlewits with the occasional fatal duel or coma-inducing beating.

      1. the occasional fatal duel

        +1 Hamilton

      2. I love watching these guys calling each other *my good friend* when you know they just want to shoot them in the face.

      3. I agree. I appreciated Amash being honest and not taking Ellis’ ceding victory phone call because Amash had no respect for him.

  4. Loved that Amash called Ellis out for all the nasty smears in the campaign. The idea that one should be gracious and ignore the slurs after winning is WAY overrated.

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