In trying situations we sometimes ask what great leaders would do. In the case of Thomas Jefferson, founder of the Democratic Party, we don’t have to guess.
Jefferson was subject to outrageous attacks on his patriotism (too French), his religious beliefs (allegedly atheist), and his personal life. His political allies were actually thrown in jail for criticizing the ruling Federalists. Armed conflict seemed a real possibility.
Jefferson fought back hard, but he used the press and the political process, not threats of prosecution. Rather than turning the tables once he gained power, he used the experience to show America, and the world, the superiority of free speech over government coercion to combat error. It’s a lesson the Obama campaign should learn.