June 21, 2007
It's not uncommon to read coverage of politics in the modern era that includes a bemoaning of the supposedly excessive partisanship that clouds Washington, DC. Not to say there's not some merit in the critique at times, but in the broader scheme of history it's inaccurate.
Anyone with a knowledge of the bitter and publicly vicious feuds among the Founding Fathers, especially Jefferson and Hamilton, knows modern complaints about partisan bickering are far from new. I ran across another reminder last night reading a book to my son about the Civil War that includes this passage:
Press, politicians, an ordinary citizens poured venom on the hapless Lincoln. Newspapers scourged him as "the head ghoul at Washington," a "half-witted usurper," and the like; opposition politicians titled him the "original gorilla" and worse; many persons, becoming fed up with the war, blamed the President's choice of generals, harped on his conduct of operations, and ranted at him for speculators' profiteering and mounting inflation.
That same object of scorn is now the centerpiece of one of the truly great - if not the greatest - monuments in our nation's capital. Just a reminder partisanship may not always be pleasant, but it has always been a part of our country's politics.
Posted by Eric Earling at June 21, 2007
07:42 AM | Email This
yes, good point.
In Seattle there seems to also be an excess of calls for consensus, as if we don't face real conflicts, real differences, real issues that require decisions in which some interests win and some lose.
Every monthor so the Seattle Times publishes a vapid opinion piece calling for bold leadership & consensus etc. without ever suggesting what to actually do on the given issue.
2. There are times in history when consensus is not possible.
Eric, similarly, Lincoln was reviled by the European press as a witless, warmongering cowboy who was squandering the reputation of the U.S. around the world.
President Lincoln ... suspended the writ of habeas corpus. He has muzzled the press and abridged the freedom of speech. ... He has, without authority of law and against the Constitution ... plunged the country into war, murdered citizens, burned ... houses. ... He has seized unoffending citizens [in the North] and ... has imprisoned them in loathsome dungeons. ... [And] under the tyrantís plea, he is proceeding to do a great many acts and things which would more become the savage and the brute.
That's a London review of Lincoln's accomplishments from The Athenaeum. Sound familiar? And that criticism was, by no means, unique.
Except in crises, it's better to have a system that drags individuals down and limits them.