Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Knucklehead's Guide to the 2016 Election

"Hamilton," the musical got me thinking about what a truly patriotic vote would mean this election.

Hamilton was a man of great energy, likely pretty manic (or bipolar, as we would call him today) with a certain disdain for the hoi polloi, born of his early exposure to the seamy side of humanity in Barbados; growing up poor and desperate he had no romantic illusions about what the underclasses are like. Like Franklin, Burr and Lafayette, he was a man of avid sexual appetites, and would win no prizes from the pulpit regarding his "character."

Jefferson, his rival and political enemy, apart from his curious attachment to slavery, Sally Hemings etc, was more the man of "character" with whom voters could identify as an icon of virtue, a renaissance man, architect, writer, philosopher, theologian. John F. Kennedy put it succinctly, looking out over a dining room filled with Nobel prize laureates in the White House, he said,

 " I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House - with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

 And yet, had I to vote for a President, I would, with the perspective of time and history, have voted for Hamilton over Jefferson.  While it is true, Jefferson had the vision and wisdom to buy the Louisiana Purchase from France, thus assuring America would become the continental colossus it became, he did so in an act of uncharacteristic executive over reach,  which Hamilton would have approved. Jefferson did not consult Congress or become too concerned about proper channels, or  advice and consent. He simply acted as an executive, or some might say, as a king.

But Jefferson's idea of what the United States should become was a nation of upright farmers, free from the heavy hand of government, tilling the land, as he did, or as his slaves did for him, while Hamilton saw clearly the critical role of finance, the need for a national bank.  

The Continental army, which had suffered as no other American Army has since, was in revolt, marched on Congress because they had not been paid for a year and faced debtors' prison as soon as they were discharged and their anger so so great Congress had to flee Philadelphia for Annapolis and there could be no fixed national capital because the Congress could not raise funds to pay the army and so became, literally, a fly by night institution.

Hamilton saw the need for a central, federal government, a permanent army and a permanent Congress and a permanent capital, none of which Jefferson, in his proto libertarian mode of thought necessary.

John Adams, an upright citizen if there ever was one, loathed Hamilton and decried his inclination for intrigue and back room dealings and in some cases apparent duplicity.  But without Hamilton, the nation would have sunk beneath the waves of insolvency and much as you might hate this early version of a Wall Street oligarch, we needed him and his system of finance. Curiously, Hamilton did not enrich himself personally, but his system allowed others to grow rich and allowed the country to achieve real power and stability through sound finances.

So, had Hamilton actually ever run directly against Jefferson, I would have voted for Hamilton, because I would have known, whatever my misgivings about his inclination for "intrigue" and political wheeling dealing, he was the best choice for the country.  

When you look at the choice between Ms. Clinton, with her cozy relationship with Wall Street, her $225,000 "talks" to the capitalists, you might see a Hamilton like figure and you may find it difficult to vote for her.  

Donald Trump has been called a unique and original figure, but he is not unique or even original.  Rush Limbaugh, had he run for President, would be in about the same place as the Donald is today. They are cut from the same cloth, but, of course, comparing Donald to Rush is like comparing the choir boy to the archbisoph.

What is really disturbing about Trump is not Trump but the Trump Chumps, who scream their lungs out at his rallies, the knuckleheads and skin heads in the mosh pit. Are these just anomalous mutants or do they actually form only the most visible elements of a multitude?  This is what elections are all about.

One can only hope even the knucklehead, when he returns home, will be capable of flipping on the youtue of Hillary in the last couple of hours of her Benghazi testimony and you can see, whatever you think of her, she knows her stuff.  You can well imagine her analyzing the problems presented a President cooly.  She is a woman who can manage a strain. She made those noxious, ignorant, blustering Republican members of the House Oversight committee look like amateurs, which, of course, they were.

Thinking of the Donald confronted with Putin moving into Ukraine or maybe Poland, or ISIS moving into an alliance with the Taliban in Afghanistan, you can only imagine what the Donald would do.

In the end, one would hope, once they've had their fun at the rally, the knuckleheads will calm down and cast a vote for the good of their country.

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