strategy of stirring up the electorate's animosity
of the opposing party by calling to mind the hardships of recent war
or linking the opposition to a body count
of some kind. The term has been around since the Civil War
, when it was used to describe the tactics of Radical Republicans
in Reconstruction-era elections.
Obviously, the practice of exaggerating real or imagined slaughters for political means is not new. In American history, you might want to look into such exaggerated farces as the War of Jenkins' Ear or the Boston Massacre. The 20th century has seen plenty of bloody shirts thanks to abortion and Vietnam. Most recently, George W. Bush's opposition has taken to decrying the Compassionate Conservative Death Count, a textbook case of waving the bloody shirt.