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Should we be worried that politics is getting nastier?

US-VOTE-DEBATE
Clinton and Trump exchanged barbs on a variety of personal issues (Source: Getty)

Rachel Cunliffe, deputy editor at Reaction, says Yes.

There’s a chasm between the policies of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but you wouldn’t know it. In between Trump calling Clinton the “devil”, accusing her of having “tremendous hate in her heart” and threatening to prosecute her, there was precious little time for analysing policy.

That’s politics these days, where personal insults matter more than careful strategies. Who cares about Clinton’s detailed mental health programme when her husband cheated on her? Who can be bothered to fact-check Trump’s nonsensical plan for Syria when there’s so much ammunition from his personal life?

The problem is that, invariably, politicians have to work together. The next US President must deal with a Congress that has seen them at their very worst. MEP Steven Woolfe will have to collaborate with the colleague who landed him in hospital. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has ceased to function due to personal animosity. All this nastiness may make for dramatic headlines, but it’s the public that suffers from the gridlock it causes.

Tim Worstall, senior fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, says No.

Thomas Paine insisted George Washington was either an apostate or an imposter; Alexander Hamilton was termed “a mushroom excrescence” and “a bastard brat of a Scotch pedlar”. Roosevelt called Hoover a “fat, timid capon” and got “a chameleon on plaid” back. Honest Abe was termed a thief, braggart, perjurer and 13 other similar things by a magazine that he didn’t then burn to the ground – unlike Atlanta. And this is just the US.

Now, we’re told that Donald Trump has small hands and that Hillary Clinton should be in jail. Since both are arguably true, it’s difficult to see that politics has become nastier.

But pretend that it is and then consider the really important question: is politics nasty enough? The answer is clearly not. These people are competing to take control of 30 per cent of everything everyone earns. The correct response to such presumption, even from a saint, would and should be a hearty Anglo Saxon wave, and an insistence that we'll manage it ourselves, thanks.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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