In Memoriam

The end of a year is a time for contemplation–for considering how the world has, or has not changed, and evaluating the apparent trajectory of our social institutions…for considering who and what has been lost….

In that vein, I share this quotation from Theodore White’s Making of the President: 1960. I came across it again recently, and was struck by its current relevance.

Read it and weep….

The Republican Party, to be exact, is twins and has been twins from the moment of its birth—but the twins who inhabit its name and shelter are Jacob and Esau: fratricidal, not fraternal, twins. Within the Republican Party are combined a stream of the loftiest American idealism and a stream of the coarsest American greed….

[I]t is forgotten how much of the architecture of America’s liberal society was drafted by the Republicans. Today they are regarded as the party of the right. Yet this is the party that abolished slavery, wrote the first laws of civil service, passed the first antitrust, railway control, consumer-protective and conservation legislation, and then led America, with enormous diplomatic skill, out into that posture of global leadership and responsibility we now so desperately try to maintain.

The fact that all this has been almost forgotten by the current stylists of our culture is in itself significant. For until this century and down through its first decade the natural home party of the American intellectual, writer, savant and artist was the Republican Party. Its men of state and diplomacy were, as often as not, thinkers and scholars; and it is doubtful whether any President, even Wilson or the second Roosevelt, made the White House so familiar a mansion to writers and artists as did Theodore Roosevelt (who, indeed, was also one of the founders of the Authors’ League of America).

The alienation of the Republican Party of today from the intellectual mainstream of the nation stems, actually, from the days of Theodore Roosevelt. For when in 1912 the twins of the Republican Party broke wide apart in the Roosevelt-Taft civil war, the “regulars” of the Taft wing remained in control of the party machinery, and the citizen wing of progressive and intellectual Republicans was driven into homeless exile.

An exile within which we remain, nearly 60 years after this was written.

Despite the fact that I consider myself an optimist, I doubt very much that 2016 will see a return to reason and moderation.

The United States desperately needs two sane, adult political parties. We don’t have them now, and the prospects for the near term are not promising.

22 thoughts on “In Memoriam

  1. White also wrote in one of his MofTP books that the four most corrupt states in the Union were New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Indiana. He noted that Hoosier politicians do things that would make corrupt politicians in other states blush, but seem to take no notice figuring that just the way things are done. I was appalled then by the notion that my home state could be included in that list, but now not so much.

  2. Just heard that 2015 kept fact checkers working overtime. Does 2016 look like it will give us anything but more of the same? I think not….

  3. Jim; read the story of D.C. Stephenson, national Grand Dragon of the KKK, and the time he lived here in Irvington. His control through the KKK of state governments, in addition to Indiana, spanned the nation. His downfall led to uncovering the elected officials at all levels of local governments who were owned by the KKK. It continues today sans the official support of KKK but the wide-range of racist, bigoted, xenophobic leadership; organized and individuals, is a mirror image of the Stephenson era.

  4. It seems that we have returned to the early part of the last century economically, when Henry Ford finally realized that his employees (slaves) could not afford to buy the cars they made. It was then that he started paying them a wage that would allow them to live a half-way decent life. Wonder when or if the Republicans will realize this needs to happen again.

  5. Nancy, don’t hold your breath until that happens. The current slave masters aka corporate leaders are too far removed from the slaves to notice. And they keep themselves deliberately removed from the scenes of their crimes. They live and work in the pristine and exclusive enclaves of the rich. The economic system of this country is corrupt and rotted to the core. As J.K. Galbraith wrote, “Revolution is nothing more than the kicking in of a rotted door.”

  6. I’m an optimist. 2016 is going to be a year to remember, especially here in Jacksonville.

    Sometimes the old has to come crashing down before the new can rise from the ashes. Santa Claus Trump is my “Man of the Year.” Who else could have given us such a fresh start?

    Back in 1901, Jacksonville had a great fire. It burned up about everything. On the bright side, It created an architectural renaissance. With the help of a great architect, the city was rebuilt almost overnight. And it flourished until around 1960, when the “coarsest of American greed” within the Republican Party started to join up with the “worst of the racism ” within the Democratic Party in Jacksonville to create the New Jacksonville Mafia doing business as the Republican Party.

    History has a tendency to repeat itself. Instead of a fire again in Jacksonville, we now have the looting of our police/fireman pension plan by the New Jacksonville Mafia which has caused a short fall of over 2 1/2 billion dollars. From fire to bankruptcy. From negligence to organized crime. Again, Jacksonville is left to only one alternative: STARTING OVER.

  7. Nancy,

    “Marv, I have to wonder if policeman and fireman vote for those that are looting their pension funds.”

    As I remember, you were divorced from a policeman. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    It’s just as you thought. Yes, in Jacksonville they vote for those that represent the cabal that removed the protective devices that would have prevented the looting of the pension funds. I might have mentioned to you before, that my very best friend growing up was one of the most popular policeman in Jacksonville, and eventually became sheriff of Nassau County, which is just north of Jacksonville. Consequently, a few of the policeman have shared their “troubles” with me.

    Many of them would like to speak out. But, there are two big problems:

    l. The Sheriff is part of the system which is still run by the New Jacksonville Mafia dba Republican Party. They can’t afford to challenge their “boss.”

    2. The motive behind the looting was to use the funds to renovate the old Gator Bowl Stadium in order to attract a new NFL franchise in the early 90’s. It was a necessity in order for the cabal to push their extreme right-wing agenda, which many of the policeman and fireman support. Consequently, they’re forced to choose between their financial security and their “political security.” It’s a real dilemma for them. I understand it.

    The cabal needed to differentiate Jacksonville from Selma, Alabama. How about an NFL franchise? Not a bad idea, for a very difficult task. However, there wasn’t funds for it without a tax increase. So they came up with the idea of using the monies which would have been allocated for the Pension Fund.

    The Police/Fireman Pension Fund was not funded with real dollars for over ten years. After the looting started, it extended in all kinds of directions. The Jaguars were not the only beneficiaries of the looting.

    The Tax Collector was an old friend of my family. I’m sure he didn’t want to advocate a tax increase. So, he asked me to intervene. I did in 1992 on both radio and TV at a time when there was no shortfall. But, the local newspaper, “The Florida-Times Union,” was part of the scam and went as far to threaten me publicly with a byline for an op-ed story entitled: “Dead Skunk on the Renaissance Trail.”

    I know some similar problems involve the Indianapolis Colts. Maybe not the criminal aspects. I hope not.

    My friend, Tommy passed away two years ago. The pension fund’s value has diminished by over 50%. I’m not sure how all of this is presently affecting his widow. But, it will for sure down the line.

  8. Who are the leaders of the Democrat Party? Gee, I don’t know. Obama? Hillary? Pelosi? Sanders? They don’t seem to talk about the party much.

    Who are the leaders of the Republican Party? That’s easy. Murdoch, the Kochs, Adelson, Norquist, the Waltons, the Bushes, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove.

    It seems to me there’s a big distinction there. On one hand millions of Democrats who just decide that liberalism has, does, and will work. On the other hand a handful of leaders to which money is meaningless, power has currupted, and millions of
    minions who follow their entertainment blindly.

    It’s not at all two alternative views on how America can most likely progress. The two worldviews are apples and bicycles. They can’t be compared.

    Like warmongers ask all of the time of Muslims; where are the Republican moderates who have a plan for progress? They are very, very quiet.

    Why?

  9. Pete; how have matters come to this? The only answer I can see is M-O-N-E-Y!

    I have a wish for 2016; have you read President Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope”? I understood and shared that “audacity” when reading it and understand and continue to share it today, it is how the country used to work – at least work better than it does today. My wish is for President Obama to write a sequel to “The Audacity of Hope”; I want to know his views now, after eight LONG years in the White House attempting to put that “audacity” into action.

  10. The metamorphosis of the Republican Party is a bit interesting- I came across a criticism by Prescott Bush father of George H. Bush as follows in 1964 on the subject of Nelson Rockefeller – “”Have we come to the point in our life as a nation where the governor of a great state—one who perhaps aspires to the nomination for president of the United States—can desert a good wife, mother of his grown children, divorce her, then persuade a young mother of four youngsters to abandon her husband and their four children and marry the governor?”

    Goldwater won the Republican nomination, and stated in Republican Convention –
    “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

    Goldwater lost to LBJ, but did win AZ (his home state) and LA, MS, AL, GA, and SC. The beginnings of the Southern Strategy which George Wallace derailed at the Presidential Level, but laid the foundation for a Republican South.
    The Republicans today can over look certain marriage indiscretions: Newt Gingrich has been married three times. Gingrich always seems to be a respected guest on FOX News. The Trumpter has been married three times. One thing the Republicans have kept dear to their hearts is Goldwater’s justification for Extremism and disgust with Moderation.
    The Republican Candidates are still frothing at the mouth about gay marriage.

  11. White could see the split back in 1960, but do any of those “progressive and intellectual” republicans still exist? I have seen them retiring and quitting congress throughout the years. Back in 1967 I registered to vote as an Independent in order to be open minded, but changed that to Democrat when I saw it meant I could never vote in a primary. I still remember my mother and father discussing Stevenson vs. Eisenhower. My father was for Stevenson, my mother for Eisenhower. I doubt such a mixed marriage could last nowadays.

  12. Sheila is right, the party is split but it is split for good reason. At least in the Republican Party there conservatives that are trying to stop the growth of government these conservatives are fighting the establishment republican party that will not use the power of the purse to stop and a ministration that is out of control. Enter ministration their proposal such large budget deficits that our children are going to pay I have hope. I hope that a good conservative president will be elected just like Ronell Reagan who created millions of jobs in a short amount of time.
    The false hope and change the Democrat party has stolen my insurance plan and left me with the PPO that if it fails will dive into my pension plan. This was solely voted in a coldhearted lonely Partsan way by Democrats who openly lied and stole my insurance plan.
    The Democrat party of today is stealing from the workingman promising things that just are not true k make foolish comments like we don’t have a spending problem we have a paying for problem which will come directly out of every small business person that hires people, but now is driving our economy to a halt. Americans are he’s driving this economy because they want to prosper regardless of what the government is doing to them.
    Sheila Kennedy is correct that the Republican is split, but it split for a good reason. Some want to actually stop the advancing size of an out of control federal government.

    the Democrat party unfortunately has no split there are no conservatives that have a voice in it today. It wasn’t hard for me to realize what the party had become when they took God out of its platform,

  13. Of course John, the deficit that you abhor came not from this “ministration” but from the previous one. Yours. The conservative one.

    It turns out that a country just cannot pay for holy wars by giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy while bailing out Wall Street for unmitigated greed during the burst housing bubble caused by artificially low interest rates and unregulated banks.

    That’s why Republicans could find no qualified candidates to run for President.

  14. In the glory days of a more progressive Republican Party in the pre-New Deal period, the Democratic Party was the party of Wall Street. Much of that party has slipped back to that status under the lead of President Clinton. There are some more constructive voices in the Democratic Party now, but, overall, it would seem as if both parties have gotten worse.

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