Social Question

mazingerz88's avatar

Which party started modern dirty politics in the US to win elections, Democrats or Republicans?

Asked by mazingerz88 (26080points) October 4th, 2018 from iPhone

An older friend of mine who passed away at the age of 86 weeks ago once told me the likes of Karl Rove had a mentor ( forgot the name ) who was good in deploying nasty attacks on political opponents.

This led to Rove helping W. Bush win the Republican nomination and defeat McCain by using dirty tactics successfully.

Let’s just say by modern, I meant starting in the 1990s. And by dirty politics I mean below the belt attacks on the opponent, lying about the other side and shameless dumbing down of issues.

In other words, which party is guilty of crossing that line first and destroying American political, intellectual, moral civil discourse?

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24 Answers

kritiper's avatar

I think this is something that has been around since the beginning of politics so it isn’t a “modern” issue.

Jeruba's avatar

I’ve read several sources that attribute it to Newt Gingrich. It really didn’t used to be like this.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Jeruba Yes, apparently there was a time these representatives can actually do their jobs by making back-room deals.

This batch of public servants these days are failing their country.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Apparently, Newt taught the Republicans that you cannot be friends with your enemies. I find it appalling that NOBODY is concerned with the people they are supposed to be representing!!! I have NO political party & I used to be able to get along with both. Now, IF I don’t totally agree with what either party is saying, I’m branded the enemy & called degrading names…names that I don’t even know the meaning but can tell they are derogatory!!! In my lifetime, I’ve found both parties to be equally corrupt; but, I was NEVER not allowed to voice my own opinion without being attacked!!!

josie's avatar

Politics is always dirty.
Having said it, if you talk to reps in Washington, which I do on occasion, many will tell you that over the last 20 plus years, Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi have done more than anybody to wreck the comity in Washington.

Jeruba's avatar

I think it’s to Gingrich that we owe the destructive notion that one’s opponents are one’s enemies. That seems to me like the crucial shift in thinking. Before that, we were Americans choosing our public servants from among competitors for the honor. After that we were “real” Americans versus domestic enemies doing battle for power over each other.

Caravanfan's avatar

Somewhat unrelated, but this is in Social. This is a fantastic article by David From on the case for Liberal Republicanism.
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/11/the-case-for-liberal-republicanism/570790/

snowberry's avatar

Blaming it on the Republicans or all on on the Democrats, or even party “A”, “B”, “C”, or “D” is ridiculous. No matter what country you’re in, no matter what political party you belong to, there is going to be corruption.

Who you are, and where your loyalties lie, there’s more or less of it, depending. But it’s always, always there!

mazingerz88's avatar

@snowberry It’s sad you totally missed the point of the question.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Politics can be a dirty, nasty business, and I’m sure it’s been so forever.

I do think the circumstances escalated, however, with Watergate. Nixon and his people took things too far, got caught, and became pariahs. In the next election, people blamed all Republicans and voted them out of office (unfortunate for vast numbers of officials who’d had nothing, whatsoever, to do with Watergate). After that, people moved into extreme camps along party lines, a trend that gets more severe as the years pass. I greatly miss the centrist versions left and right, which could barely be distinguished from each other.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Love_my_doggie It shouldn’t be too late I hope. Voters today regardless of party could start a new movement asking for change in the way politicians operate in getting votes.

And once they are elected, to work and compromise with the other side, stop paralyzing the government and move the country forward.

All this divisiveness is accomplishing nothing in the end. If the Republicans lose power, Democrats would overturn what they did same as what trump did with Obamacare.

These elected public servants are being paid to face and fix real problems not cling to power in ways that bring the country to chaos.

Demosthenes's avatar

@Caravanfan Excellent article, thanks for sharing that. I never seem to disagree with David Frum when I read him. I especially must agree with his view of the political spectrum, the horseshoe model that posits the left and right become more alike as they become more extreme. I hope “liberal Republicanism” has some kind of future and that we are not doomed to the rising nationalism and socialism of the current parties.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Caravanfan Yup thanks for that article. Keeping it.

Caravanfan's avatar

@Demosthenes The last time I mentioned that I was sympathetic to liberal Republicanism here on Fluther I got insults thrown at me that were so bad I left the site for many months. In retrospect I should have had a thicker skin and this article will help me to recognize extremism.

seawulf575's avatar

Limiting it to 1990 to current is a bit off since many of the dirty tricks started and were built upon dirty tricks used 150 years before that. In the 1992 presidential election, Ross Perot dropped out citing the threat from Bush to release doctored photos of his (Perot’s) daughter to embarrass her. Not sure if that is true or not. And that may not have been the first since 1990 was a midterm election. There may have been other dirty tricks before the Perot event.

LadyMarissa's avatar

^ The dirty tricks go waayyy back well before 1990!!! I’d venture to say that they were used on George Washington but can’t prove that’s true. After working on Capitol Hill for over 5 years, I lost any & ALL respect for politics & politicians on both sides!!! In my opinion, you could take ALL of them, remove the R or D from behind their name, put them in a bag & shake them up, & when you pour them out you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between them!!!

I’ve been pushing for s 3rd party; but the more I think about it, I really think that we should have NO party affiliation & they should run on their OWN merit!!!

Jeruba's avatar

“According to Harvard University political scientists Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky, Gingrich’s speakership had a profound and lasting impact on American politics and health of American democracy. They argue that Gingrich instilled a “combative” approach in the Republican Party, where hateful language and hyper-partisanship became commonplace, and where democratic norms were abandoned. Gingrich frequently questioned the patriotism of Democrats, called them corrupt, compared them to fascists, and accused them of wanting to destroy the United States. Gingrich furthermore oversaw several major government shutdowns, as well as impeached President Clinton in a partisan fashion.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newt_Gingrich

mazingerz88's avatar

@Jeruba Thanks for the link. : )

Jeruba's avatar

“No single person bears more responsibility for how much Americans hate Congress than Newt Gingrich. Here’s what he did to it.” —A 2012 article in The Nation.

https://www.thenation.com/article/how-newt-gingrich-crippled-congress/

Other quotes:

“Over those sixteen years of personal and partisan striving, Gingrich invented or perfected many of the things that Americans dislike most about Congress.”

“Of course, Gingrich’s greatest act of obstructionist brinkmanship was the 1995 and 1996 government shutdowns….Thanks to Gingrich’s obstinacy, health and welfare services for veterans were curtailed, Social Security checks were delayed, tens of thousands of visa applications went unprocessed and “numerous sectors of the economy” we negatively impacted, according to the Congressional Research Service. ”

“This partisan earmarking has led Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a longtime anti-earmark crusader who has endorsed Mitt Romney, to dub Gingrich ‘the father of contemporary earmarking.’”

“All together, Gingrich’s emphasis on partisan warfare über alles sped the demise of the comity that is essential to the functioning of Congress. If the parties refuse to work together, little can be achieved without super-majorities. It was Gingrich who made winning, rather than good governance, the chief currency of success.”

Jeruba's avatar

Typical quote from one of numerous recent mentions in editorial columns and opinion pieces in major news media:

“Gingrich — who is more responsible than any other single figure for America’s slide into vicious, bitter partisanship over the last couple of decades — ...” (Article, “Trump is in trouble, so he’s reaching for his ace in the hole: hate,” Paul Waldman, Washington Post, August 24, 2018)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2018/08/24/trump-is-in-trouble-so-hes-reaching-for-his-ace-in-the-hole-hate/

I don’t have my own direct, independent sources of information on political figures, so I’m supplying these quotes as examples of the views that have influenced my opinion.

rojo's avatar

Gingrinch is the one I recall as being the instigator of the rancor that now exists.

Jeruba's avatar

Turning opposition into enmity, disappointment into grievance, and disagreement into treason has poisoned American politics and, by extension, American society. Now nobody can control it. It’s the Audrey II of politics.

We thought we were better than this, but we weren’t. Lesson learned? I doubt it.

mazingerz88's avatar

An entirely new generation ( if not mentally poisoned already ) of voting citizens could save America’s future @Jeruba

LadyMarissa's avatar

^ Sadly, I do believe they ARE poisoned already; but I hope I’m WRONG!!!

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