A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Some Perspective

Been talking a bit with my mother and various other members of my family about politics of late, and I have been reassuring them that A) I have not become a dittohead (my family is very liberal and has a rather low opinion of our president) and that B) The country is not on the rocket sled to hell. My reasoning for B) is that while times are indeed contentious, ill-mannered, and divisive, it's nothing the country hasn't survived before. Resiliency and self-correction are built into our country's very fabric, and while, on an individual basis, there will always be those that fall through the cracks and those that abuse power and loopholes, on a national basis over time, the country as a whole will thrive, the abusers will be removed (and possibly punished), and the loopholes closed. Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Hamilton, Madison and many other lesser known figures of the Founding Fathers did their work well. Amazingly well. Presciently well. The debt of gratitude our country, indeed the entire world, owes to these men is incalcuable.

But I digress. My point is, we'll be okay-- as long as people continue to give a crap. The only truly scary thing about the world today is that a lot of people don't give a crap. But then again, it has likely always been thus. For every season, turn, turn, turn. You grok?

Don't believe me? Well check out this fiery denounciation of the opposition party by a journalist from years gone by:

These are the men who cry out for war, exterminating war, a war against every man, every woman and every child in France, that shall not stop till it has destroyed all the Republics which are now in existence on the globe; for these purposes, they are for a treaty offensive and defensive with England, and to form intimate political connexions with Russia and Turkey, the three nations of all others in Europe, by whom we can least be benefited; to borrow any sum of money that is possible, and at any rate of interest, to strengthen the coalition of kings and tyrants, and furnish all their aid in accomplishing these great works. These are the men who snuff the gale, as if charged with most delicious fragrance, which bears them intelligence of blood and carnage, in which we have already shared by accommodating ourselves to their views and entering into these pursuits; men who are frantic with rage and disappointment when they are informed of any measures taken to prevent war and encourage free government—who gnash their teeth at the name of peace.

Who do you suppose the writer is describing? George W. Bush? Ronald Reagan? Nixon? Eisenhower? FDR? Teddy Roosevelt? Nah, this is old school, baby-- not some 20th century prattle.

Grant, then? Pierce? Andrew Jackson? Nope. Even older. 18th century denunciations by the press, my friends. This little polemic was published in 1799, and it was referring to the Federalist Party, whose principle figures were John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and none other than George Washington himself. And this was not even close to the most scathing thing printed in the lead up to the election of 1800. Not even close.

A fledling country, deep in debt, barely recovered from a devastating war, and trying a new form of government that had only faint and ill-fated antecedents survived this. Survived political sniping as vicious and bitter as any we see today and then some.

Still unconvinced? Before and after his election, President Lincoln was called diabolical, a High Priest of Republicanism, a treacherous tyrant and a zealot. We survived that, albeit just barely. The country is resilient, and these things run in cycles.

And if you ever want to take a seriously bizarre "trip" into the past, read a few pro-slavery treatises from 1860. Wow. One author actually invoked the spirit of the Founding Fathers as a defense of slavery-- Jefferson and Washington in particular-- and argued that the south was far more democratic than the north. An interesting case study for just how good people are at rationalizing away even the most foul of acts or beliefs.


Hey. How's things over here? Just been lurking, me.

No desire to get fired up here, just going to tag you with the 'Fours' Meme, Nick.

Here's mine:


And it came from Terry Teachout, so you don't have to worry about getting (too many) liberal cooties!

Merry Christmas!
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