Low-information voters, then and now

John does a great job of keeping Power Line readers up-to-date on the pitches that Democrats make to low-information voters. Some historians contend that the low point in such pitches was reached by the Whig Party in the presidential election of 1840 (William Henry Harrison vs. Martin Van Buren).

Issac Morse, a Louisiana politician during the 1840s used to regale friends with this story of young Whig orator who, Morse swore, delivered this attack on Van Buren regarding a ginned-up government purchasing scandal:

Fellow citizens: Who is Daniel Webster? Daniel Webster is a man in Massachusetts who is making a dictionary. Who is General Harrison? Everyone knows who General Harrison is. He’s Tippecanoe and Tyler too.

But who is Martin Van Bulen (sic)? He is the man who bought wood in [New] Orleans, paid 24 dollars a cord for it, and carried it round to Florida and had to cut down trees to land it.

[“Coals to Newcastle,” a fellow in the crowd cried out.]

Yes, them coals he carried to Newcastle. I don’t know so much about the coals, but about the wood, I’ve got the documents.

If the pitches of today’s Democrats don’t quite contain the ignorance quotient of the 1840 Whigs, it isn’t for lack of effort.


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