The 2016 U.S. presidential election is thought to be an outlier. Americans cry for a return to the way politics used to be– fair, moral, and democratic. However, these same Americans fail to recognize the American political tradition of shady politics and even shadier politicians. Hamilton: An American Musical highlights the politics of late 18th century American Revolution, revealing parallels to the current presidential election.
1. Open campaigning
After Aaron Burr openly campaigned against Thomas Jefferson for the first time in a presidential election (1800), mudslinging advertisements have become inescapable in the election cycle. United States’ politicians have a tradition of proving their opponents wrong in order to demonstrate why they are the most fit candidates for the job. Across the aisle, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both scathingly attack the other (i.e. “Nasty woman,” “deplorables”).
2. Party flopping
Upon realizing the opportunity to win the New York senate seat, Aaron Burr switched his party affiliation from Federalist to Democratic Republican in order to run against the Federalist incumbent, Philip Schuyler Sr. Similarly, Donald Trump has been registered as a Democrat in the past and has criticized the Republican party over the years. He only recently has re-registered as a Republican.
3. Lack of policy discussion
Aaron Burr and Donald Trump are both determined, competitive candidates; however, both are notorious for their avoidance of policy discussion. While Burr was “not forthcoming on any particular stances,” Trump rarely discusses any substantive policy to “Make America Great Again.”
This year’s election is largely perceived to be choosing the lesser of two evils. Both candidates are seen as corrupt in their own respects– Hillary for her private email server and the Benghazi incident, Trump for his tax evasions and boasting about sexual assaulting women. However, scandal is nothing new to American politics. Alexander Hamilton had a year long affair with Mariah Reynolds and paid her husband blackmail money in order to keep his secret. Upon publishing his affair to the world via “The Reynolds Pamphlet,” Hamilton threw away his shot at ever becoming president.
5. Refusal to accept election results
Historically, not every candidate has accepted election results peacefully. Aaron Burr challenged Alexander Hamilton to a duel– and killed him– after losing the presidential election of 1800 largely because of Hamilton’s endorsement of Thomas Jefferson. Donald Trump’s comment in the final presidential debate that he would not accept the results of the election if Hillary Clinton wins is most definitely outrageous, but nothing new.