Dirty Politics in American History

Myrna Goldberger
History / Politics

Course Description

Dirty politics is defined as shenanigans, deceptions, shams, unethical or even immoral behavior perpetrated to influence the election of a particular candidate and to disqualify the competition. Dirty politics is not new to American history; it emerged as early as 1800 in the presidential election of John Adams vs. Thomas Jefferson. It has continued throughout our history and shows no sign of diminishing. This series will focus on state and federal elections where nasty behavior dominated and analyze public reaction to the strategies used. Video and Powerpoint images will be used to enhance the attendees' knowledge of techniques that include negative advertising, inferential word usage and pictures. How effective is dirty politics? Were there any efforts in the past to curb what was used? A conclusion can be reached that dirty politics shows no sign of receding and that the past is prelude to the present.


1. The Election of 1800 - Adams vs. Jefferson - James Callender, Sally Hemmings.
2. The Election of 1824 - J.Q. Adams vs. Jackson -The Coffin Handbills, Adultery Smears, Rachel Jackson.
3. The Election of L.B.J. 1964 - The Daisy Ad; Election of 1988 - George H.W. Bush vs. Michael Dukakis -The Willie Horton Ad.
4. The Election of 2000 - Bush vs. Gore, Election of legislators - Pepper vs. Smathers, Election of 1960 - Kennedy vs. Nixon debates - make-up, Election of 2008 - Clinton vs. Obama - 3 A.M. phone call.

About the Instructor

  • Myrna Goldberger has been a presenter for 25-plus years. Educated at the University of Maryland, Loyola College and Johns Hopkins University, Myrna has had more than 50 years of experience in educational programming, including Elderhostel, special function and scholar-in-residence weekends. She currently presents lectures to community and religious groups, as well as to special-interest groups in Florida and other states. Moreover, she performs in self-written, one-act plays focusing on famous American women and men.

    Recipient of the 1999 Excellence in Teaching Award

Upcoming programs presented by Myrna Goldberger.

TypeNumberInstructorCourse TitleAdd to Cart
4wk S141 Myrna Goldberger Dirty Politics in American History
Mondays, March 11, 18, 25; April 1: 10:00 am - 11:30 am