Democrats and Republicans. Over the past few decades, there have been few issues that the two parties have agreed upon. The death penalty, abortion, gay rights, God and the government, gun rights, and more are all held at different beliefs by the two parties. Arguments are constant, and agreements are scarce. The United States is divided down the middle, with citizens and politicians rarely crossing the line.
When election time comes, opposing parties cannot dig up enough dirt on their opponents, similar to the way Nicolo Machiavelli discusses royal families in the 1500’s. Today, conflicting political views are at the forefront of the campaigns, but personal attacks are at an all time high. One of the more recent examples was when President Obama was beginning his 2008 presidential campaign. His main target was his middle name: because his middle name is Hussein, the Republican party deemed him a terrorist. They also reported that his birth certificate is not valid. Some Republicans continue to hold firm to these beliefs today. The criticism has not ended. Over the past four years, Republicans have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act fifty four times. The Republicans helped to create a government shutdown because they could not agree on the year’s budget with the Democrats. The Republican party has been trying to sue President Obama because “he abused his powers at the expense of Congress and the Constitution.” And most recently, Republicans have created a scandal because of the President’s “latte salute,” even though former President George W. Bush was pictured performing a similar salute.
The same is happening to potential Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The Republican party cannot talk about her husband, former President Bill Clinton’s, affair enough. After her fall in 2012, Republicans also believed that she developed brain damage, yet another reason she should not run in 2016, according to them.
Some believe that personal attacks on candidates is a new practice, but it is in fact not. In 1514, Nicolo Machiavelli wrote of how to become, and stay, royal in The Prince. Machiavellli’s rules are simple and easy to understand. Those who are royal must focus on war and fortune, and little else. Along with rules and regulations, Machiavelli gives examples on how to come to power. In chapter VIII, Machiavelli wrote of the Sicilian Agathocles, who became the King of Syracuse. But to rise to power, Agathocles had to murder all who were before him for the throne. While this was an evil deed, he was successful in his task.
Agathocles did not destroy his opponents in the public eye—he murdered them at a private dinner party—but he nonetheless destroyed them. Just like in the 1500s, the royal—or in this case, politicians—are attempting to sabotage their opponent. In 1988, Democratic candidate Gary Hart’s presidential campaign was ruined because he was caught in the middle of an affair. The negative press destroyed him. The same happened with Bill Clinton, who was impeached during his presidency because of an affair. Comments and actions like these can be traced back to the first elections of our country because politicians have always been at war with one another.
A time like this has never existed, but I would like to see politicians run on a platform purely based on politics. American citizens should elect politicians into office solely because of their political views, not because of what their middle name is. Bloomberg Businessweek reported that $445 million of political ad money goes to trashing opponents, while only $25 million is used to promote candidates based on their beliefs. While destroying opponents may not be ethical, it certainly does work, and that is why the practice will not end anytime soon. Royals or not, the system is relevant and effective.