This is from a recent comment I made on Anderson Cooper's Facebook page, concerning his post on the nastiness of modern political campaigns.
It is unfortunately the very history of political campaigns have long stood as a defense to why they continue to run this way. "Well it's how we've always done it before, so what was good enough then is good enough now." This is a falsehood; it stands in the way of progress. Instead it undermines all political and intellectual discussion. It creates distrust of all politicians and public figures from the constituents they serve, both from those who buy the poisonous rhetoric, and those intelligent enough to recognize it for what it is. It eliminates any true debate and stumbles the pursuit of truth and a better world for all. And as for the dissolution of progress, Dr. John Kotter has recently released a book outlining how thinking in such terms as "always been done before" hinders progress and also gives good advice on how to counter it effectively.
These thoughts are little more than playing to mob-rule, destroying human intelligence in the pursuit of power. A very sad fact. America right now is rife with this frame of mind, it exists everywhere from political campaigns to how we raise our children. As a student of history, politics, and from my time spent in classrooms in the secondary and primary levels, I have seen it everywhere. It drives our political, social, and economic policy. We allow the slander and libel of other citizens in political campaigns because it's how we always did it. We allow our children to make racist comments and bully each other in school over sexuality under the guilty pale of remembering that we ourselves were that way in our youths. We refuse to recognize the times when our economic system can no longer sustain itself under the very same guise. This cannot stand, something that was wrong then, is just as wrong now. Tradition and history do not make them right. It is only by intellectually standing against such things that we can have any hope to remove them. They are difficult to face, even 100 years after the end of the Civil War and the destruction of slavery in the United States we still did not have equality between African Americans and Caucasian Americans, and even after the Civil Rights movements of that time all these years later it still does not exist. These are not overnight victories, but worthwhile pursuits nonetheless.
Another defense of these ads is that they weren't as bad as they were when politics in America was just starting. Read some of the old ads from back when Jefferson was running for president, and they were truly malicious and even absurd, but while they might not be "as bad" today, I think we are returning to those ways. Listen to Limbaugh spouting off about how pictures of Obama look "demonic", and now there are those making veiled threats of revolution should they not get their way; we are hardly that much better. All we can do as informed citizens is work to further knowledge and understand that history, is history, and never a justification.