"Politics sure have gone down the shitter this election," is what you've probably been saying to yourself for the last 15 months. But you know what? You're wrong.
Oh, it's not that politics aren't in the shitter. It's that they were already there. With one month left, the current candidates might have to kick it into overdrive if they hope to out-crazy some of pioneers of absurd campaigning.
Where You See it Today:
Have you seen the McCain ad about Obama wanting to teach sex education to kindergarteners?
Who Made it Cool:
The very first few elections in American history were fairly tame (who's going to run an attack ad against George freaking Washington?) and even the election of 1796, the first between Adams and Jefferson, was pretty straightforward. Complex issues were at stake, sure, but there were a lot of well-thought-out and articulate pamphlets circulating to try to inform the voters about the various candidates. Issues were discussed.
When the election of 1800 rolled around, again between Adams (now president) and Jefferson (his vice), someone stood up and said "How about we just make up shit about the other guy?" A revolutionary idea was born, and it changed American politics forever.
So President Adams' team sent out pamphlets saying if Jefferson was elected he would destroy Christianity, and that, "prostitutes...will preside in the sanctuaries now devoted to the worship of the Most High."
"Guys, I want you to meet our new Pope. She's a Virgo. Loves anal.
When the threat of an all-hooker church wasn't effective enough to destroy Jefferson's career, Adams' Federalists stepped up their game, explaining that Jefferson's America would involve the "teaching of murder robbery, rape, adultery and incest". Thomas Jefferson wants "murder robbery" taught in our elementary schools, people!
Jefferson knew that the Federalists were hurling bullshit and, not to be outdone, he actually went out and hired a professional bullshit-hurler, James Callendar. Armed with nothing but an incredible imagination and a total lack of morals, Callendar effectively convinced a good portion of America that Adams "desperately wanted to attack France" and would if reelected (Americans still liked the French back then, for helping us with the Revolutionary War and all).
James Callendar Man.
This election set the standard for filthy, misleading campaigning. The technique of taking a real quote (Jefferson saying he believes the current religious institutions lead to corruption) and exaggerating it to the point of absurdity (Jefferson wants to blow up Christianity and eat the baby Jesus) was born, and used in every single election since.