Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A Warning from the Past

Earlier today, I was in an American Legion hanging up posters and they had the TV on. Well they had two TVs on, actually, Gunsmoke over the bar and the impeachment proceedings behind the pool tables. A bad guy in a black hat was threatening a woman in the bar, and in the billiard room Adam Schiff was addressing the Senate.

As I listened, I thought, man, Adam's been working on his speechifying -- them's some purty words there. He seemed to be describing President Trump, but in nearly poetic terms, brutally direct but at the same time the language was decorous and genteel. I saw some writing at the bottom of the screen and as I came closer to the TV I discovered that Schiff was reading a quote from Alexander Hamilton, writing to George Washington in 1792. Here it is:
When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may 'ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.'
Donald Trump is not a new or unique phenomenon, people like him have always existed. More than two centuries ago the Founders recognized the danger this kind of person posed to democracy and the way of life in our new country.