Mudslingers: The Top 25 Negative Political Campaigns of All Time : Countdown from No. 25 To No. 1

By Kerwin C. Swint | Go to book overview

24
IT'S A JUNGLE OUT THERE

Upton Sinclair v. Frank Merriam, Governor, California, 1934

This is the question that's thinning my hair,
What'll I do about Upton Sinclair?

If I embrace him the slams will be hot,
And I'll be roasted if I do not
.

Choosing a course is not such a snap,
Why did they put that guy in my lap?

—a ditty by humor columnist H. I. Phillips, poking
fun at Franklin Roosevelt's dilemma

The casual observer of politics might be surprised to learn that the muckraking columnist and author Upton Sinclair once ran for governor of California. Although it might be one of America's "forgotten" elections, it shouldn't be, because coming at the height of the Great Depression and the early stages of the New Deal, it almost caused a civil war in California.

Sinclair's 1934 campaign also earned a place in political lore as one of the most savage and brutal election campaigns in American history. He had a legion of enemies—including Hollywood moguls; California business associations; the real estate industry; and, of course, the state Republican Party—that threw everything at him, including the kitchen sink.

Sinclair is best known for his 1906 novel The Jungle, which exposed the horrible working conditions and sanitary procedures in meatpacking houses and food distribution centers in Chicago. The book became a sensation,

-11-

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Mudslingers: The Top 25 Negative Political Campaigns of All Time : Countdown from No. 25 To No. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Prologue xiii
  • 25- From Vietnam to Iraq 1
  • 24- It''s a Jungle out There 11
  • 23- Senator Pothole versus "Putzhead" 23
  • 22- Electronic Mudslinging 31
  • 21- The Art of War 39
  • 20- Homo Sapiens, Thespians, and Extroverts 47
  • 19- Vote for the Crook—it''s Important 55
  • 18- Who''s the Boss? Richard Daley and the Chicago Political Machine 63
  • 17- Polluting the Garden State 71
  • 16- God Save the Republic, Please 79
  • 15- Rudy and the Jets 87
  • 14- A Jersey Street Fight 95
  • 13- In This Corner, Little Lord Fauntleroy 103
  • 12- Sex, Lies, and Videotape 113
  • 11- Claytie versus the Lady 123
  • 10- Richard Nixon versus the United States of America 133
  • 9- "Bye-Bye Blackbird" 143
  • 8- America, Meet Willie Horton 153
  • 7- Tricky Dick versus the Pink Lady 163
  • 6- Grantism and Mr. Greeley 173
  • 5- The First Campaign 183
  • 4- A House Divided 193
  • 3- Mud, Mugwumps, and Motherhood 203
  • 2- The Dirtiest Campaign in American History? 213
  • 1- George Wallace and the "Negro Bloc Vote" 223
  • Epilogue 233
  • Notes 237
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 251
  • About the Author 255
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