Election Day

Don’t worry!  We are done with elections for a while!  I am not going to start writing about 2012 already!  However, as annoying as the election commercials, mendacious politicians and all the assorted insults to our intelligence that are part and parcel of political campaigns are, we sometimes forget how truly remarkable a process it is in the history of our planet.  

 It is easy to become cynical about politics.  However, as the above clip from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, a film which took head on the issues of political corruption and the cynicism which it creates, indicates, we have a history in this nation which all Americans can take great pride in.  Since 1788 we have had elections regular as clockwork to determine who will lead us, and a long history of such elections prior to that back to the earliest colonial settlements.  Even when we were convulsed in a great Civil War, both sides held their elections.  World Wars, Great Depressions, civic unrest, nothing has stopped our elections and the peaceful transfer of power.  This is something truly rare on our planet, and we as a people have managed this feat for centuries.  Our country has flaws and weaknesses, but we also have virtues and remarkable strengths, and our ability to resolve our differences peacefully through the ballot box is one of our greatest strengths.

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  1. Wish I could be as sanguine about our “democracy,” but, based on presidents, legislatures and judges governing against the will of the people, I’d have to say the system is irretrievably broken. When one set of bums gets thrown out, another set replaces them. Politics in America is all about money. The more you raise the better chance you have to win. “Campaign contributions” are a euphemism for bribery and backroom deals. Corruption is rife, mendacity rules and the people, content with their bread and circuses, are not really concerned about their loss of freedoms.

    This comes after 68 years of careful observation, and is not some knee-jerk cynicism. I’m glad to be checking out soon. I don’t want to be around when America implodes from total decay and depravity.

  2. Joe, every last thing you wrote, and I mean every last thing, could have been lifted word for word from newspaper editorials written in the 1790s. Your pessimism about the prospects for our experiment in self-rule go back to the very beginnings of the Republic, as does my optimism. Time, as it always does, will tell.

  3. I doubt the US will disappear any time soon. It will, like many (most, all?) political systems go on and slowly decay, like some ancient ruin. Certain vestiges of self rule will remain, but those will be as unrecognizable to us as our current ones would be to our founding fathers (just look how far we’ve decayed in a short 200 years). But something will remain – whether it’s worth keeping will depend largely upon what the rest of the world (and hence, available alternatives) look like.

  4. “It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! — how consoling in the depths of affliction! “And this, too, shall pass away.” And yet let us hope it is not quite true. Let us hope, rather, that by the best cultivation of the physical world, beneath and around us; and the intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual, social, and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not pass away.”

    Abraham Lincoln, September 30, 1859

  5. I had thouhght that phrase (This too shall pass) is in the Gospels. Not so.

    Mark 9:29-36 “… Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away …”

  6. Donald, I’ve been reading too much Schopenhauer lately. I would like to try your rose-colored glasses for a day or two. Anything to cheer up this old misanthrope.

  7. Schopenhauer would depress a laughing hyena Joe. I prefer Doctor Franklin:

    “Whilst the last members were signing it [i.e., the Constitution] Doct FRANKLIN looking towards the Presidents Chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun. I have said he, often and often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.”

    James Madison

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