A local group recently asked me to speak at lunch. I accepted, humbled and grateful. Getting a book known, even locally is an amazingly tough task. Talking over lunch time crowd has challenges too, not the least of which is to keep my remarks somewhat inconsequential. I don’t want anyone choking on the jambalaya.
The whole reason for my invitation was to talk about my newest book Camelot Games. To distill ninety thousand words and intertwined plots and characters into a half hour talk is no small task. So as not to upset any literati hidden in my group, I planned only to touch on the book’s theme and leave the rest alone. While I of course, know my theme (I did write it, after all), I wondered how to couch it in such a way so as not to sound overly preachy, offensive, or worst yet, boring.
Temptation as a component of corruption is an idea large enough to sail QE2 around for a week. In order to tighten my remarks, I concentrated on our American brand of economic temptation, a unique history where conformity skirts our very destruction.
Take 1833 for instance. A fine year. Andrew Jackson became president in 1828 and was president still. But he only came to the White House after the election was stolen in 1824. He finished first in electoral college but without a majority. Two other parties ran candidates that year. The House chose the second place candidate, another Adams.
Can I safely say we diddled with the truth?
Even with John Marshall’s work in the Supreme Court and our rock solid foundation in the law, we substituted popularism for what a few decided reflected the best interests of the people.
Remember, “We the People…”? In 1833, it only took four decades and three wars for an elected group of elites to create a solid political power that could steal an election. That sort of political power exists today. Coalesced around a hero, in this case John Quincy Adams, Federalist extraordinaire, and launched off to flaunt victory in the face of the Founding Fathers, many of whom were still alive.
While a variety of parties fought one another for dominance, the Whigs emerged in favor of a strong federal government. These former Federalists won the elections of 1840 and 1848, and then promptly split over the issue of slavery. Economic temptation, at its finest. (Compromise of 1850.) The resulting new party of anti-slavery called themselves Republicans (no relation to Thomas Jefferson’s state’s rights party of a similar name in the previous century). They elected themselves another populist, Abraham Lincoln, a former Whig, in 1860.
Whew. I’m tired, but why talk about all this? Ancient history, right?
That’s the whole point. Toss in today’s vulnerabilities that technology hath wrought, selfish and self-interest career politicians, and angry disenfranchised people, we could lose this country once again. We’ve come close before, and maybe we’re close again. Only someone looking backwards will truly know if today was the day it all changed.
America’s political coin of the realm is our two party system, Democrats and Republicans have their roots in this 1833 era. Keep in mind, neither political party is a living or breathing entity but reflections of we, the people as the squirrel cage spins. We must not trust what we believe we knew about political parties, even ones twenty years ago. The world changes too fast for that. Giving up actual critical thought in favor of quick jingoistic pabulum is a patriotic disservice that allows such travesties as Camelot Games to become imaginable.
So, is everyone asleep in their soup?
All my best,
My thanks to kidsinthehouse.com