Do you think the political parties are even more divided today than in the past? If you do, do you think this negative campaigning is a big reason, or do you think there is a different reason?
The United States's political parties have sometimes grown through periods of animosity. The election of 1800 was nasty, as the Adams and Jefferson camps tried to personally attack one another through newspaper editorials. There was bias in the news back then as there is today, and editors made no secret as to which side they backed in an election. People could read the news for entertainment as well as to be informed. Politicians have been accused of various scandals throughout history. Campaign managers have often promised national catastrophe if the other side won. McKinley's managers promised economic depression if William Jennings Bryan's silver platform became the law of the land in 1896. Political division is nothing new in the United States.
Political division is now in the forefront of more people's minds today thanks to social media and the proliferation of twenty-four-hour news networks that compete for viewers with other entertainment venues. Good news does not sell as much advertising space as bad news. Each side of the political debate says the other side is comprised of horrible people bent on destroying the nation. The public watches this, because it is dramatic. There is deadlock between the parties partially due to this narrative, and elected officials are worried about looking "soft" by compromising on contentious issues. Negative campaigning is one reason for division; however, the bigger issue behind division today is the proliferation of news outlets that make more on editorials than they do on reporting only facts.
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