U.S. Historical Periodic Table

From time to time one has an idea so strange the first notion is just to say, “Nah!” and try to get it out of one’s mind. The trouble is, this one wouldn’t go away.

Take a sheet of graph paper laid landscape and at the top mark off even divisions from zero to 80 by fours. Below zero you will skip down a little and write 1784, skip down a little further and write 1864, and finally, skip down a little further yet and write 1944. The left side of each row begins with the end of what I call a "cataclysm". Add notes as I indicate below and watch for patterns.

What brought this to mind was a consideration of what Tom Brokaw coined as the "Greatest Generation". In truth our nation has had three of these great generations, but our present conception of them is skewed by the fact that they now occupy only the upper reaches of the old among us. We think of these people as folks who were young at the end of W.W.II. In fact the experiences of three events in our nation's history forged a trans-generational obelisk of national unity, not of philosophy so much as of a clear vision of the goodness of the union. When I, born twelve years after the last national cataclysm, was very small everyone of voting age in this nation felt, with very few exceptions, that the country was a unique force for good in the world.

Thinking on this notion gave me to realize that the unity inherent in those whose concepts of national purpose were forged in the fires of real peril had an effect that could only be felt for a given length of time. Furthermore, it occurred to me that the sociological effect of the falling away of generations whose cultural compasses had been set together in the midst of the crisis might lead to similar political situations at similar removes from their most recent cataclysm. The first clue to this was the most obvious one- our first two great cycles of calamity and recovery were each eighty years long.

Other obvious similarities are not hard to see from there. In the fortieth year of the first cycle a popular reform presidential candidate very unpopular with political insiders, Andrew Jackson, won the popular vote. He was kept out of the White House by the fact that a plethora of candidates meant no candidate won a majority of the Electoral College and John Quincy Adams was placed in the office by the College. In spite of the fierce opposition of official Washington Jackson won the next two elections outright and was popularly held to be the greatest president in the nineteenth century prior to the Civil War. Similarly, in the thirty-sixth year of each succeeding cycle very popular reform candidates strongly opposed by official Washington would be elected to either the vice presidency and be raised by succession (Theodore Roosevelt) or elected to the presidency outright (Ronald Reagan). All three of these men enjoyed overwhelming support from the public as presidents, making them irresistible political forces as they enacted their political programs. Then all three chose heirs-apparent who became deep disappointments to the public. These included the only two vice-presidents to be elected to the presidency in their own rights, Martin Van Buren and George H.W. Bush.

All three cycles have seen intense periods of either national or international "nation building" immediately after their cataclysms, without the keening doubts and gnashing of teeth associated with our current efforts in Iraq and Afganistan. Two of the three cycles saw episodes of racial unrest and consolidation starting in the decade after the cataclysm that had settled to a low simmer by the beginning of the third decade. Two of the three cycles witnessed equivocal military adventures begun with the best intentions by the fourth presidents in those cycles. Those presidents, James Madison and John Kennedy, were both known for extensive writing on their visions for the country, but each has been seen to have been poorly prepared for the various military conflicts they either inherited or launched.

In all three cycles the third president was a leader in the cataclysm. Two of them were military general officers. Each of those three, Jefferson, Grant, and Eisenhower, had second-term problems that compromised those politically affiliated with them. In the forty-eighth year of two cycles men (Woodrow Wilson and Bill Clinton) described as smart, morally vacillating power-grabbers by popular commentators (Theodore Roosevelt and Rush Limbaugh) were elected to the first of two terms. Each was credited, at least by the end of their terms, as having power-grabbing wives as well. In the fifty-sixth year of all three cycles correction: sixty-fourth year of the first cycle (which tends, apparently, to lag the other cycles when it differs on events all three share) and the fifty-sixth year of the other two cycles there was what could be described, in the terminology of the 2000 election as a "gravitas" candidate (Zachary Taylor, Warren Harding, Richard Cheney). In the same slot in the second and third cycles the other candidate was a deeply religious man known as a peripatetic non-communicator (Calvin Coolidge and George W. Bush).

In all three cycles as the cycle has worn on the country has become more and more splintered over essential values and unifying concepts. Approaching the elections in the sixty-fourth year in each cycle the nation has been actively running away from issues of great importance, issues capable of causing the collapse of the country. In cycle 1 this was the nation's division over slavery. In cycle 2 the crisis was the nation's refusal to accept the role it must take in the leadership of the world combined with an adherance to obsolete ideas about the value of currency. In cycle 3 we have refused to accept that the promises inherent in Social Security and Medicare as they are currently formulated are impossible to fulfill without collapsing the economy in the not-distant future. In the previous two cycles this election was disastrous for the winning party, precipitating the death of the Whig Party in the middle 1850s and debilitating the Republican Party for decades in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s.

As we approach the elections of the sixty-fourth year of the third historical cycle of the United States I see nothing to indicate we will avoid the course of cataclysm we have visited twice since the founding of the republic. The phenomenon I have described to you is not a function of political leadership. It is, rather, a sure witness of the fact that in America the people lead, or fail to lead. It is a sociological phenomenon visited upon us by our own ignorance of how important the sovereignty of the citizen in this country is and how abuses of that sovereignty brought catastrophe down on the heads of people three generations ago and four generations before that.

In 1928 America confidently elected "the smartest man in America", a political outsider, a "change" candidate to be the President of the United States. It was not Herbert Hoover who failed. Nor was it Zachary Taylor and John Tyler who failed eighty years before that. The American people had failed to pass the lessons learned in the fires of her founding and in the Civil War down to her children. We have failed in the same way.

If history repeats itself, and it usually does, the next sixteen years are going to be, as the old Chinese curse says, "interesting times"

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at January 20, 2008 10:28 PM
Comments
Comment #243406

Lee

History is not as orderly as we make it seem. Some of the patterns are the result of our analysis. We put facts into patterns in an attemt to understand chaotic reality.

Events depend on human decisions. These decisions fall into statistical patterns, which sometimes make history look deterministic, but it is statistical - that’s it.

Many more things could happen than can happen and I have never seen a historical analysis with any real predictive power.

Posted by: Jack at January 20, 2008 11:52 PM
Comment #243410

Lee,

Interesting post. Like Jack, I don’t see your analysis as predictive, but I must say it looks cautionary. As a famous movie quote goes, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a rough ride”.

Posted by: Old Grouch at January 21, 2008 6:40 AM
Comment #243412

Jack,

I’m certain there are errors of analysis in my examination, but there are also similarities that can’t be explained away so simply. I chose to examine presidential politics simply because it is the most convenient surface for looking at indications of underlying sociological currents. Over time I’d also like to look at such indicators as congressional elections and economic trends. I just don’t have time for that now.

The most important issue is the undeniable fraying of our sense of national purpose and its repetition of what is an obvious historical pattern.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 21, 2008 7:12 AM
Comment #243431

Lee

Your analysis is fine. I just do not think it is possible to find such detail in historical patterns and - in fact - the pattern is the result of the analysis.

The test of any theory is its predictive value. It is not enough to predict hard times. Everybody thinks they are living in hard times. Only in retrospect to we see those times were good.

Posted by: Jack at January 21, 2008 1:35 PM
Comment #243434

It would be unlikely in a random sample of events and presidencies to not observe apparent (but actually random) trends. Thus, this sort of thing does nothing for me.

There’s something to be said for noting America’s response to major wars: there is logic behind the social phenomena of electing war-leaders, slowly growing complacent, etc., but it’s hard to argue that the timing of WWII was in fact endogenous to American polity.

Lastly, this leaves out a lot of seminal moments and figures. The Great Depression, Civil Rights movement, and Gold Rush don’t fit into the analysis and are ignored. The scandals of the Nixon administration are one of the highlights of presidential history, but have no obvious analog in the first two cycles.

Posted by: Chops at January 21, 2008 2:58 PM
Comment #243475

Lee Jamison-
I think the cyclical argument is dead in the water. It borders on mysticism. You might as well discuss the fact that Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy, and Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln.

What’s really at work here is a circulation problem.

As a nation, we’ve become dependent on easy credit to get past relatively stagnant wage growth. Part of that credit is supported by what people earned, but too much of it, quite on purpose, was put forward with the aim in putting people permanently in debt to the creditor, with the interest sort of acting like a gift that keeps on giving. Unfortunately, this is a highly dysfunctional cashflow situation. Potential profits are high, but the tendency of those deep in debt is to keep things rolling.

Predatory lending, in short, is a major source of economic deadweight. We can argue who’s responsible, who’s the more foolish, but it’s wise to keep some things in mind: there is a considerable gap between what the debtors and the creditors know about how the game is really played, and also, it takes two to tango, and companies to this point have been quite willing to dance.

To compensate for this risk, many companies would securitize and sell off debts, taking them off their balance sheets, at least technically speaking. This, though, if the person doesn’t or can’t pay, typically becomes like a game of musical chairs. One company is left holding the bad debt, at the end of the day.

Finally, somebody noticed there were a lot of foreclosures and bad debts building up, and somebody finally asked the fatal question: how much is my securitized debt worth? Am I the cheese that stands alone, holding his own bag?

It would be helpful if investors could figure that out, if we could know exactly what the losses have been, and get beyond them.

Trouble is, the securities used to trade the mortgage debt are pretty opaque. You really can’t tell what you’ve got in the package. Which means even if what you got isn’t bad debt, you might not be able to get people interested in it.

This means a hit to the bottom line of the companies who sell these mortgages, because what you can’t sell, you can’t take off the balance sheet. Companies without the resources to weather this go under. Those with, tighten their lending disproportionately, a natural reaction to a volatile market.

Unfortunately, the uncertainty of the securitized debt go beyond just the mortgage industry. Similar questions arose of other bonds and debt packages, which were sold around under similarly information poor conditions.

So, the sudden stomp on the brakes, coupled with spread uncertainty means that our very credit dependent economy is now in a crunch, and perhaps soon to be in a rather severe recession.

To describe it as cyclical is to avoid major facts concerning the way debts have been handled, the way credit has been given out, the choices regarding deregulation of book-keeping, asset management, disclosures, predatory lending, and conflicts of interest.

It’s natural for conservatives to choose cycles and other forms of inevitability. That way, nothing needs to be done or should be done. These things happen.

However, they don’t just happen.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 21, 2008 8:48 PM
Comment #243476

Chops,

Depressions are actually an appropriate issue for addition to the analysis overall. The Great Depression is not ignored, but is lumped into the brief statement about “obsolete ideas about the value of currency…” (the most concice explanation for why the Depression lasted so long). The Civil Rights movement was also briefly addressed in the comments about “racial unrest and consolidation”. A proper address of each of these would require more space than even this article took up. I just wanted to point out similarities in three periods in American history and chose similarities easy to research (because I am sharply limited in the time to spend on the idea). I also chose a phenomenon (the choice of national leaders) that seemed particularly susceptible to underlying sociological influences.

If sociological influences have a kind of scalable “fluid dynamic” as, say, hydraulics do it is not illogical to believe there are things that would behave very similarly on different scales in comparable situations. It is also quite true that individual leader’s foibles can deeply affect the situation at a particular time, as Nixon, and also James K. Polk (who overcame the disillusionment of his times to accomplish virtually all of his agenda, but still could not overcome the essential division over slavery) proved.

I am not saying I proved my point, by any means. But, there are several items which appear to point to the possibility of a sociological dynamic working progressively in a tightly defined situation.

If, over the course of the next sixteen years, there was a significant repetition of the kind of depression/world crisis event that happened eighty years ago it does not seem illogical to think there is something here worth taking a very serious look at.

If Republicans win the presidency and within the decade the party is in collapse I, for one, will start a book.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 21, 2008 9:14 PM
Comment #243479

Stephen,

Again, my discussion is more sociological than historical. Sociology is approached as a science, or at least it pretends to be. I think I am seeing three successive, very similar, runs of a sociological experiment on (because the population changed) different scales.

The “experiment” simply follows the political choices of a population that starts out after having experienced a nearly universal existential crisis. It then examines their behavior through a process of attrition and replacement of the population that experienced the initial crisis.

One could say the “thesis” is that the population will eventually become too politically fragmented to be able to sustain a stable environment.

I propose that two times in succession that thesis proved true, and the third run appears to be headed in the same direction.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 21, 2008 9:38 PM
Comment #243492

Lee Jamison-
America is not and has never been about stability in the old, linear sense. America is what Douglas Hofstadter would call a strange loop, a self-entangled hierarchy, a feedback loop that changes itself.

Or, put another way, America is like M.C. Escher’s Drawing Hands, a society perpetually authoring itself.

What you’re seeing are tensions playing out, as the forces that certain parts of society tried to keep bottled up were unleashed when those who were keeping them back were weakened.

The comparison I draw is to forest management. For years, we tried to put out every fire. The result is, acres worth of forest-fire fuel settled on the forest floors. The result, in turn, of that is more destructive forest fires which are more uncontrollable. Nature would tend to have low-level fires which would burn away underbrush and young saplings that would otherwise crowd the forest.

The greatest changes often occur not only against the resistance of some, but because of it. It is no coincidence that the Democrats get their new majority at just about the time that Republicans started talking about a permanent one. The Republicans created a huge pool of folks who were dissatisfied with their policies, a huge pool of Republican faithful sick of covering for lousy policies and lousier politicians, and a great number of Democrats, who they, by trying to force them into extinction, actually ended up firing up.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 22, 2008 1:14 AM
Comment #243500

Lee, your analysis is akin to looking for wisdom in the I-Ching. One can find patterns in any tapestry as rich with detail as history, even if no pattern at all was woven in.

What you call interesting times ahead, I would call trying times, which will test the mettle of Americans and challenge them to return to their basics, and set aright their priorities in the face of great hardships and inevitable losses of quality and standard of living heretofore enjoyed in the age of near Roman excesses.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 22, 2008 3:57 AM
Comment #243505

David,

The reference is to an old Chinese curse which ends with “May you live in interesting times”. It means, of course, exactly what you say- trying times.

The assumption in most of the comments above is that I’m finding patterns in tea leaves or bird entrails, as though there were no mechanism at work in the patterns I present. This is not the case. Here there is a clear mechanism, the loss of generations of people forged into unity by a common crisis, one that everyone recognizes as presenting a very real threat to the survival of the nation.

As this body of political leadership and experience ages and dies away it is replaced by what I have characterized elsewhere as “feet of clay”. As replacement generations become the dominant body politic they lack the experience to overcome the natural human tendency to value differences more than similarities.

That has lead, and is now leading, to deep divisions made worse by the fact that people get political power by the feeding and exploitation of prejudice. The path to power burns bridges of communication- and our internal divisions, and inability to really face the crisis issues of the day, send us down the slope to disaster.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 22, 2008 7:40 AM
Comment #243513

Lee Jamison-
It’s very easy to see correlation where there is no true causation, especially in complex and confounded systems such as ours.

But to say that divisions are worse today, than before? We fought one civil war, and haven’t really fought one since. The tensions that lead up to that still play out, but many of the conflicts coming from that have been at least moderately resolved.

The thing is, generations are not so precisely divided up. Yes, people do forget the bad times, forget the hard lessons. But that’s one of a variety of variables. And have you even considered what they’re forgetting?

Additionally, Is America becoming more divided, or simply divided along different lines. Many indications are that the Democrats are basically picking up many of the independents and young voters. The course of things have changed.

Right now, your people are doing their best to fight this trend, to try and preserve policies against liberal encroachment. The minority in the Senate has set itself to be the most obstructive minority in US history, and it’s got over half of America believing that the Republicans are the main impediment to progress.

In short, much of this division you’re talking about is of your own party’s doing. They’ve embraced a platform most Americans consider radical, and have shown few scruples about forcing it down people’s throats.

At the end of the day, the Republican party is failing to win back voters because of self-inflicted problems, not because people have lost sight of some old conservative wisdom. You pushed things too far and now things are pushing back.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 22, 2008 11:31 AM
Comment #243568

Stephen,

You have described a situation growing out of political divisions among the people as though it were the fault of a party. The party only exists to give representation to the positions of people. Do you not see the irony in your complaint? What you seem to demand is that Republicans not represent the views of their constituents.

Damn, they must be listening to you.

Last night I woke up musing on one of the difficulties in American government. It is a flagrant conflict of interest that we use positions of power to, supposedly, enact the will of the people to maintain liberty. My observation is that the Democratic Party, particularly that strain that survived intact after the Republican Party was formed, dealt with this conflict by having a philosophy of using power to instill orderliness. The Republican Party, on the other hand, developed a Jeckyll and Hyde personality that claimed, when out of power to use power to preserve freedom, and, when in power, used power to subvert the party’s own goals. That got them fired as a majority.

As to division- there are value divisions in this country that go far, far beyond simple philosophical differences. People who minimize the heat of opposition to continuation of the status-quo on illegal immigration, for example, are just damn fools. They may try to sell that position for what they think are rational reasons, but they are rationalizing the dismantling of the rule of law, easily the most fundamental concept in our governmental philosophy. I, and many others, are prepared to die on that hill.

That conflict is just one of many that would never have crossed the minds of the Truman Administration or the Kennedy Administration. Vultures would have starved to death looking for something big enough to eat in the ashes of the homes of Mexicans who kidnapped Americans or fired weapons across the border in those days. Today we defend our borders like frightened four-year-olds. The Democrats and Republicans who can’t understand their constituents’ fury over issues like these are the product of a sort of value drift that can only happen in times when nothing really seems like a serious threat. Seemingly innocent cut by seemingly innocent cut such attitudes eventually so weaken the nation that it can’t maintain peace and order.

You say “generations are not so precisely divided up”. I’m not sure what you mean by that, but what I mean is that the sociological effect of a war in which the survival of the nation is at stake, an event like the revolution, the Civil War, or W.W.II, is that it proves to the whole population the cost of not putting the survival of the nation above other considerations.

Then, as younger generations who have never really seen the nation imperiled replace the older generations that did, they see no harm in making choices that compromise the country’s integrity. They can’t imagine the economy collapsing so taxing the heart out of the nation’s productive capacity holds no fear for them. They’ve never seen the cost of the loss of the rule of law so why not compromise it here and there where the concept is inconvenient. No foreign enemy has presented the nation with a serious existential threat (a la the 1920s and ’30s) so why fund an effective international military? The larger this clueless voting bloc is the greater the peril- and, finally, they are all the people there are. That is what I meant in the comment above about the country getting “feet of clay”.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 22, 2008 10:05 PM
Comment #243670

Lee, you started down the right path, and then lost your way. You were doing fine arguing the differences and commonalities as important to understanding what is happening and our future inescapable circumstances. But, then you got lost.

Let me see if I can bring you back to the winning argument path you started off on.

Sustenance and the struggle for it, has the effect of teaching humans a common, unifying priority set, which is fairly universal. When a society predominantly meets the sustenance needs of the people, it becomes a mature society in which a plethora of other priorities and divergent choices become paramount to citizens, save one, power.

Power, and who wields it, remains a uniform priority decision in a mature society, in which the citizens make one of 3 decisions about power: Doesn’t matter who wields it, I or those I choose should wield it, or, those who wield it must have it removed from their influence. All citizens choose regarding power in a mature society. This is true of Mao’s China, Krushchev’s USSR, Amazonian Tribes, or America.

How they choose and in what numbers, determines in large part, that society’s values. Freedom is determined by those in power. Usually, those with power have freedom, and those without power, don’t. Freedom ultimately is the ability to choose from the widest available option set. Those with limited choices, have little freedom. Ask any slave.

Often at the end of great civilizations, those with the most to lose, are the ones who lose the most, as a result of their having wielded power so far in their favor, that the foundation of unity upon which the society was maintained, crumbles. (America is witnessing this today.) When the foundation of commonality fails, the days of wealth and power end, usually in that order.

The common folk having lost the least, continue on and promote new leaders to follow, to recreate a new society that promises to benefit them, the common folk. And the circle of life and repetition of human social history continues and repeats.

Democracy + common secular education for all + suspicion and skepticism of all who seek power over others, is a prescription for societal longevity, which the human species, as yet, has failed to master and preserve. But, we are much further along in our development and perfection of that prescription than ever before.

Our founding fathers got the representative democracy down, and the skepticism of those in power down by granting suffrage only to the literate, vested, and rationally skeptical. What they didn’t get right is common education as a right. But, then, in their time, they could not foresee a time when universal education could be made economically feasible - they were after all entrenched in an agriculturally based economy.

We have universal education. What we don’t have is, universal secular education in the knowledge that our political leaders exercise to govern us. If the people knew ABOUT what our elected leaders know about governing the people, the people would readily be voting most of them out of office on a frequent basis.

In other words, if the people knew how politicians lie and misrepresent the people’s interest with statistics, specialized bought and paid for preordained research results, and the power of manipulation of the public through Public Relations, marketing, and advertising expertise, the people would use their vote to take power away from those politicians.

We have made tremendous progress. But, without a common and practically universal knowledge of civics, Constitution, history, sophistry, logic, math, language, and ethics, democracy is not possible in any form, republic, parliamentary, or direct, for very long. Because democracy requires the people to know about what the leaders know in depth. Our fractionalized and specialized, privatized, and regional educational systems are moving away from this common secular education needed to serve the people in controlling their politicians. Our educational systems of today are designed to produce followers and consumers and laborers who rely on specialists to take their money (potential freedom of choice) in exchange for the least expectation of return in service or product. Politicians are such specialists. The last thing a politician truly wants, is an electorate free to choose another candidate.

Ergo, we have arrived to era of gerrymandering, and Diebold, now Ivotronic, voting machines as an insurance policy against too many voters balking against the choice the party presents them, and exercising too much freedom of choice. Education, especially common education, is the greatest threat to reelection any incumbent faces.

The 2006 elections stand testament to that fact, as the media educated the public to middle class financial squeeze and the deceptions underwriting the Iraq invasion and occupation. But, a democracy cannot long survive with the corporate media as a substitute for a common universal secular educational system. The bending of the FCC to political will, instead of public will, is testament to this fact, as well.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 23, 2008 9:55 PM
Comment #243718

Lee Jamison-
Like many complicated systems, you can look at the political situation in America from many different angles and level of detail. There’s a kind of fractal scale to systems like this.

That is, you can see the fortunes of the party both in terms of the larger party, and in smaller scale in terms of the central core interest groups and populations, and in terms of the of more loosely allied groups as well.

Each of these groups has a sort of indistinct edge to it; these things are not so cut and dried that you can simply draw lines around people.

However, these collections of people are not random, nor is their behavior. The different communities and broader interest groups have various beliefs, to which their political alliances and beliefs tend to gravitate.

Politics is like the weather, neither a muddled fog nor a crystalline arrangement of things in precise order. It’s non-random, but not simple in its structure, self-organizing but not squared away.

What killed the Republican Party as it was is this: self-indulgence. How does this work?

First, overestimation of support, or the strength of support among various groups. The Republicans continually boasted that theirs was the way of the future, that America was going to become as red as it once was blue. That never happened. many attitudes they considered liberal not only continued, but flourished despite the rise of the movement and the Reagan revolution.

Second, a tendency to value competitiveness over consistency and quality, a win at all costs attitude that cause Republicans to tolerate greater and greater problems with their candidates that others would not tolerate.

Third, a shared paranoia among the central core about the MSM, which lead them to create a media system in parallel and divergence with a major conflict of interest: both support the party and the politics, and tell people what they needed to know about them. Supporters and advocates can become real timid when it comes to inconvenient truths, and that can leave supporters dangerously unaware of how far their party has strayed until it is too late.

Fourth, self-indulgence in terms of a desire to see the agenda manifest, regardless of what it took or who got in the way. As the party rose and maintained discipline, this burned many bridges between the GOP and outside interest groups, especially among the independents. On the way down, as the party splintered, it has lead to profound schisms in the orthodoxy regarding what was orthodox conservativism, with everybody coming up with a different, divisive visions of what that was.

Lastly, on the subject of generations, the truth is, we define generations by broad categories. Baby-boomers can be defined as anybody born from the early forties to the mid-sixties, a span of a quarter century. Considering the changes in society over that time, the degree to which things changed, defining politics by generation is a process fraught with complications.

I think you underestimate my generation quite badly, and miss a major component of our lives. Growing up, I can remember the final days of the Cold War. Coming of age, my generation runs smack dab into 9/11 and the Iraq war. We’ve seen economic ups and downs of all kinds.

America has never been without international or domestic crises to deal with. Some have been tougher than others. I think your view of American politics is overly simplistic, and tries to lend a self-congratulatory air of both inevitability and tragedy to the fall of the Republican Party.

When it comes down to it, though, it goes a little like this: the Republicans had their chance to demonstrate the quality of their policies, the validity of their arguments, the performance capabilities of their politicians, and they blew it, badly.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 24, 2008 2:03 PM
Comment #244000

Lee,
My take on your post is that history repeats itself. In that sense you are absolutely correct to think of catyclismic events are cyclical. Of course they are not the same events reoccuring but they do have a tendency to show up after the oldest generation that experienced the previous event have passed on.

We would be hard pressed to find someone who had personal knowledge of the mood of the people during formation of the federal reserve and the passage of the 16th amendment. Anyone who was alive could not be old enough to understand the mechanics of what transpired. Economic ups and downs have been minor since the end of the cold war. Misery indexes and malaise and double digit inflation have been unheard of since the end of the cold war. To think our problems have just started when one political party gained power is very short sighted.

Many have promoted the idea that these events you refer to are random curcumstances unrelated to each other. I cannot agree. When I hear of dealing of families such as the Rothchildes who can fund a nation to victory in otherwise stalemated wars, who can influence markets by standing still and doing nothing until…

No! I say when our money is controlled by private interests we are at the mercy of those interests and the cataclysmic events being refered to are just tools used by the monied elite to wrest control of our economy and ourselves from “We the People”. One tool being used now is the media and party loyality.

I think this is another tool being used against us:


We have made tremendous progress. But, without a common and practically universal knowledge of civics, Constitution, history, sophistry, logic, math, language, and ethics, democracy is not possible in any form, republic, parliamentary, or direct, for very long. Because democracy requires the people to know about what the leaders know in depth. Our fractionalized and specialized, privatized, and regional educational systems are moving away from this common secular education needed to serve the people in controlling their politicians. Our educational systems of today are designed to produce followers and consumers and laborers who rely on specialists to take their money (potential freedom of choice) in exchange for the least expectation of return in service or product. Politicians are such specialists. The last thing a politician truly wants, is an electorate free to choose another candidate.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 23, 2008 09:55 PM

Yes, our education system. We can’t solve the problem if we can’t identify the pieces.


Posted by: Weary Willie at January 27, 2008 2:59 PM
Comment #244049

Stephen,

As usual you misidentify my intentions in terms of partizanship. both parties are, simply, dead wrong. Period.

We have developed a strain of “me-too” partizanship that waves the flag of party as though having one team win will solve the problems of the world. As liberals know Democrats are not serving them, and we conservatives should know quite well that, as with the elected heads of the Whigs in this segment of the country’s first cycle of history, our ideas are being roundly ignored. Parties encourage bigotry. They run on ignorance and thrive on inattention.

If McCain is the Republican nominee I will vote for the Democrat. That, Stephen, is how much I adore the Republican Party. You would do well to examine your allegiance to the party you fawn over in every post with an eye to why a very strategic-minded conservative would make such a choice.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 28, 2008 7:00 AM
Comment #244276

Lee Jamison-
I’m not saying that Democrats are perfect, but there is one other thing they aren’t, something that makes them a better choice than the Republicans at this point: They aren’t in the way.

Democrats, in the current political environment, aren’t trying to keep a war going only a minority likes, aren’t trying to push social security changes few people want, aren’t standing in the way of sensible taxation because they’ve taken it into their heads that all rises in taxes are evil. They aren’t stonewalling one investigation after another, and aren’t defending the tearing of this constitution of ours to shreds.

When Democrats get in the way of things, I hardly fawn over them. I’ve posted a number of entries critical of the Congress’s poor record on opposing Bush. That said, part of what makes this Congress such a truly whipped and ineffective institution at the moment is the Republican minority in the senate, which has set an all-time record (I’m not exagerrating, they did it with a year to spare) for blocking legislation.

The key distinction at the moment is that there are new movements within my party, movements with some unifying force, which can supersede, make obsolete the Washington politicians who’ve failed us so miserably. We have hope, and Obama’s not the only reason.

Your party, on the other hand, has torn itself to pieces trying to play to its base of hardline factions. People tried to make it work, tried to get all the different interests to square, but as it turns out, about the only thing most of these people have in common is that they hate liberals, or at least liberal policy.

It’s no coincidence that with 2002 and 2004’s pinnacle of power came the GOP’s downfall. Once the Democrats were defeated, it was only a matter of time until folks in your party realized just how much their opinions really differed.

That’s why people are trying to define what it means to be Republican now, and not doing too good of a job at it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 30, 2008 5:43 PM
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