Fear-mongering and mudslinging are not new, and go back as far as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in this country. But this election year we have seen and heard political ads that have set the bar at a new low.
Both political parties can be faulted in this regard, though the Republicans seem to be better at this sort of thing, given the examples set by such people as Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove in recent years.
A new insect has crawled out from under the political rock these people have turned over, however, in the form of random phone calls telling the listener that the call is on behalf of "John McCain" to let the listener know that "Obama consorts with terrorists" (which is not true) or that "the Democrats are weak on crime" (which is unverifiable). These claims can easily be disproved -- if they make any sense at all -- and one would hope that those who receive such calls (as I have) will be repelled and vote sensibly in the coming election.
This sort of thing breeds fear and hatred at a time when clear thinking is required above all else.