Election of 1828

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The presidential election of 1828 introduced new election components and techniques for political campaigning that drastically altered the American political system. Until 1828 presidential campaigns were conflicts over ideology, focused primarily on issues and policy not on individuals. Presidential candidates either leaned towards a larger centralized government to secure liberties or a decentralized government, often referred to as a ‘ true republic’, which allotted states and thus individuals more freedom. While these opposing viewpoints can be defined as Federalist or Republican, partisanship did not play a significant role. The 1828 campaigns of Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams changed all that, the focus shifted from policy and issues to character, image and party rhetoric thus altering future elections and politics in America.

Upon conclusion of Lynn Parsons’ The Birth of Modern Politics, one is not impressed with the virtue of either Andrew Jackson or John Quincy Adams. Andrew Jackson was considered a ‘military hero’ but he was also known for his temper, his aggressive, violent and often militant behavior. Parsons portrays John Quincy Adams as erudite and well versed in foreign and domestic politics but uncharismatic, aloof and at times self-righteous. The election of 1828 was full of irony, both men during the previous election of 1824 proclaimed that they would not fight for the presidency “playing the role of “Mute Tribune”.” (Parsons p.77) “Adams considered the presidency a reward for public service not a prize to be won through competition.” (Parsons p.76) In addition, both Adams and Jackson held high esteem for one another, both publicly and privately supporting thee other for many years. Yet the el...

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...n p.236) “ The result is a lack of communication about real problems and virtually no discussion of the real divide in American political life.” (Lakoff p.177)

Americans have become so engrossed with the rhetoric of political parties that many are unable have real discussions about “freedom, fairness, equality, opportunity, security, accountability.” (Lakoff p.177) The election of 1828 gave birth to the “professional politician” it demonstrated how “ambivalence” on issues, how image and the right language or narrative can influence voters. Partisanship did increase competition and empower voters to a greater degree, but it has also divided Americans and obstructed communication. As one historian declared the “old hickory” killed the ideal of nonpartisan leadership. (Parsons p.184) For better or for worse American politics were forever be changed in 1828.
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