Looking Back to See the Future
It was a hotly-contested presidential election, with the popular incumbent falling back a little.
The country was divided. At war. Maybe the first time the country considered replacing the resident president while the country was at war.
Yet, daily life had t go on. The election was due.
One side wanted to imagine things getting better, with government. The other side wanted to stay the course as things had been, “to maintain the Constitution”
For every “yes” on one side, there was a “no” on the other and thus a federal stalemate.
The traditionalists opposed any new government action. They proudly called themselves the “let alone party.” They called the opposition cursed for “looking ahead exclusively to the future. They are a band of reformers. With new schemes, new doctrines and new purposed to promulgate and establish.”
Their well-established constituents opposed big government, nurturing their negativism. They decried their opponents by citing the “evils of political meddling, with rights of morals, religion and distinct communities.” They said cultural unity was an impossibility, “arrogant tyranny.”
They had backers among the wealthy, who sought more international trade and set, conservative values, “the Constitution as it is, the union as it was.”
The other side used the Constitution itself, finding ways to weave new meanings of the old words, finding legal precedent in interpretation, finding encouragement for economic’ government and social change and expanded national government power.
Those who did not want change used talking points like “one shield and protector, an ark of safety, a sheet of anchor.”
Both had cartoonists portraying the other with the Constitution wrapped around the foe’s legs. It was revolution vs. stability.
A leading philosopher of the day said it was a simple choice: The Party of Hope vs. the Party of Memory.”
The philosopher was national treasure Ralph Waldo Emerson. The election was the presidential of 1862. But the parties then had the Republicans of Abraham Lincoln evoking the call for change and the Democrats dug in to oppose it all.
What we need to remember is to always look to our past to see how we got where we have gotten to. To learn. And, maybe to laugh a little at the supposed angst on each side.
•HERE’S A POINT I always try to apply.
When someone asks us to endorse them for national office, do they quit their day job – after all, they should be sure they will elected to the higher office.
The last one to do so was Senator Bob Dole. It was so surprising not one of the millions of political “experts” cramming the airwaves and print areas with their supposed expertise saw it coming when he resigned.
The vice president on the Republican side has gone so far as to reapply for his Congressional seat and will be twice on the ballot in Wisconsin. It appears he expects to need that job again.
None of the three Senators up for national election resigned last time; none were up for re-election. Obama did not resign and neither did Joe Biden, nor did McCain or his running mate, though, late as usual, Sarah Palin quit anyway after being defeated.
If you think you are going to change jobs, if you are truly sure of it, why reapply for the old one?