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Reading History books can be enlightening


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Friends, Countrymen (where applicable), fellow ESers, lend me your eyes.

In all the partisan caterwauling and negative campaigning, which I have zealously contriubted to (to my occaisonal post-post chagrin), I give you a piece of advice. Go find an older narrative style history book (most likely gathering dust on your local library shelves). Shoot for something printed prior to the 50's if you can find one.

These two quotations are provided to you from The Beards' Basic History of the United States. Doubleday, Doran & Company 1944.

Page 332-333

"Before 1892 labor reformers and agrarians had spoken contemptuously of the two major parties, but the Populists at Omaha in 1892 blew against Republicans and Democrats such a blast as had never before come from a political convention. "Corruption," they declared, "dominates the ballot box, the legislature, the Congress, and toches even the ermine of the bench. the people are demoralized.... The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled; public opinion is silenced; business prostrated; our homes covered with mortgages; labor impoverished; and the land concentrated in the hands of capitalits. The urban workmen are denied the right of organization for self-protection; imported pauperized labor beats down their wages; a hireling standing army, unrecognized by our laws, is established to shoot them down, and they are rapidly degenerating into European conditions. The fruits of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind.... We have witnessed for more than a quarter of a century the struggle of the two great political parties for power and plunder, while grievous wrongs have been inflicted upon the suffering people.... They propose to drown the outcries of a plundered people with a sham battle over the tariff.... The interests of rural and civic labor are the same; their enemies are identical."

This resonated with me, and seems accurate still, minus a few mere details caused by the difference in times and events.

Page 348-349

"Against the background of these war events the presidential campaign of 1900 was carried on. The Republicans renominated McKinley and associated with him Theodore Roosevelt, now acclaimed a hero of the Spanish War in which he had done a little fighting, as candidate for Vice-President. In their platform they took a firm position in support of the gold standard, celebrated the "splendid triumphs" of business and commerce under the McKinley administration, and stood fast against everything that smacked of Bryanism in 1896. Concering foreign affairs, the declared that the war with Spain had been "unsought and patiently resisted," but had been "triumphantly waged" when it came. As a result of the war, "to ten millions of the human race there was given a new birth of freedom," and to the American people "a new and noble responsibility." With respect to the Phillipine insurrection against this birth of freedom, the Republicans proposed to put it down and "to confer the blessings of liberty and civilization upon all the rescued peoples." In other words, they advanced confidently in defense of their domestic program and their foreign policies. In response to this challenge on domestic and foreign policies, the Democrats renominated Bryan and, besides reaffirming their faith in the principles of 1896, declared their belief that imperialism was a curse to the nation. They lashed it as a new and dangerous threat to the American Republic. They asserted that the Filipinos could not be made citizens without imperiling our form of government. Since the United States now had these wards, however, the Democrats promised them a stable form of government, independence, and then protection against outside interference. They condemned "the greedy commercialism" which dictated the Philippine policy of the Republican administration and impugned the war against the Filipinos as a war of "criminal aggression." "Militarism" they decried as meaning "conquest abroad and intimidation and oppression at home." They were not willing, they declared, "to surrender our civilization or to convert the Republic into an empire."

...(deliberate gap by me)...

In justifying their new course Republican orators bore down hard on two types of argument. The first was that of "our responsibility." Their policy, they insisted was not imperialism; it was the fulfillment of duty to the peoples that had been brought under American juristiction as if by an "accident" of history. The Philippines had come to the United States unexpectedly, amid the fortunes of a war fought to free Cuba, and it was our moral obligation to protect these helpless peoples, to civilize them, to educate them, to raise their standard of life, and to confer on them the blessings of liberty. The second argument of the Republicans pertained to the insurrection in the Philippines, and they shaped it into a question of American patriotism. "Don't haul down the flag!" Theodore Roosevelt shouted as he toured the country in the campaign. It had been raised in the Philippines, enemies had fired upon it, every patriot must defend it, and only "copperheads" and traitors sympathized with Filipinos who wanted to pull it down and substitute their banner of independence. "

Regardless of any bias of the authors, the interesting fact is that these same strategies and tactics are still in play today, and barring some name and detail changes are more than accurate. The authors are either prophetic or our current governmet is using the same old tricks to do what they do best. History does indeed repeat itself for those ignorant of it.

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