There’s a lot of talk these days about how negative political campaigns have become. I’m sure you’ve heard people (especially those who are a bit older) say something similar to this: “It’s all negative, they’re not talking about the issues, but about each other’s character. It’s one big smear campaign, all the time. That was different back in the day, yep, back then they actually debated each other on the issues.”
Reason shows that our glorification of the early election campaigns may be, um, how to put it? Mythical. See for instance the race between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson:
Reason is right: political wars have always been fought dirty. Politicians do whatever it takes to win. And negative campaigning works. It’s that simple.
As an aside, I encourage you to read up on the race of 1800: it’s one of the liveliest, dramatical, controversial and important elections in America’s history.