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Long Ago, But Not Far Away

18 August 2010 @ 14:55

I just finished read David Pietruska’s damn fine book 1920: The Year Of Six Presidents.  It is a fascinating history of the people and ideas in existence during the middle of the First Progressive Era in America.

The author combs through all the various shades of Progressive and conservative thinking and presents a picture of an age where the former’s ideas were first saturating the latter’s minds, causing them to abandon a lot of the philosophy of The Founders.  But it also chronicles the backlash against Leftism that occurred because of the excesses of the Socialists and Communists.  This was best exemplified in the evolving philosophy of Calvin Coolidge and the desire for a return to ‘Normalcy’ by Warren Harding.

I highly recommend this book, if for no other reason than to see how the Leftist cancer scored some of it’s initial victories thanks to fools like Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt.  It will also act as a good introduction to Mr. Coolidge if you are not that familiar with who he was and what he believed.

While reading 1920, I was struck by how much has not changed in all these years.  This example struck me.  In a speech in his ill-fated train trip in 1919, Woodrow Wilson said the following while advocating for The League Of Nations:

…My clients are the children. My clients are the next generation. They do not know what promises and bonds I undertook when I ordered the armies of the United States to the soil of France, but I know and I intend to redress my pledges to the children; they shall not be sent upon a similar errand. [page 45]

Even back then, the Do-Gooders were claiming that they were doing what they did ‘for the children’.  I wonder if Wilson was the first to use this skeevy tactic?

Warren Harding, while infected with a touch of the Progressive Disease, retained enough of his senses so that he could say things like this:

The world cannot be established on dreams, but it can be established on evident truths.  It is a perfectly normal humanity which delights in a new sensation.  One can only pity a people which becomes blase.  It is better to be simple than surfeited.  The new thrill is sought on the stage, and is sought everywhere in human life.  Some of our people lately have been wishing to become citizens of the world.  Not so long since, I met a fine, elderly daughter of Virginia who would have been justified in boasting of her origin in the Old Dominion, and uttering her American pride, but was shocked to hear her say. ‘I am no longer an American.  I am a citizen of the world.’  Frankly, I am no so universal.  I rejoice to be an American and love the name, the land, the people, and the flag. [page 322]

The lines drawn in 1920, when this speech was delivered, are the same as today.  We, those who love and honor America and what she stands for and believe we are charged with preserving and protecting and defending her freedoms and liberties freedoms are pitted against a Superforce that wants to forcibly engineer Paradise on Earth.

One of the great joys of reading Mr. Pietruska’s fine tome is getting to know Calvin Coolidge a little bit more.  The author quotes from a famous speech by then-Massachusetts State Senator Coolidge that helped make his reputation.  It was delivered on 07 January 1914 as his acceptance speech upon being elected Senate President.  A highlight that quotes more of the speech than the author does:

The commonwealth is one. We are all members of one body. The welfare of the weakest and the welfare of the most powerful are inseparably bound together. Industry cannot flourish if labor languish. Transportation cannot prosper if manufactures decline. The general welfare cannot be provided for in any one act, but it is well to remember that the benefit of one is the benefit of all, and the neglect of one is the neglect of all. The suspension of one man’s dividends is the suspension of another man’s pay envelope.

Men do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of righteousness. That state is most fortunate in its form of government which has the aptest instruments for the discovery of laws. The latest, most modern, and nearest perfect system that statesmanship has devised is representative government. Its weakness is the weakness of us imperfect human beings who administer it. Its strength is that even such administration secures to the people more blessings than any other system ever produced.

No nation has discarded it and retained liberty. Representative government must be preserved. Courts are established, not to determine the popularity of a cause, but to adjudicate and enforce rights. …The people cannot look to legislation generally for success. Industry, thrift, character, are not conferred by act or re solve.

Government cannot relieve from toil. It can provide no substitute for the rewards of service. It can, of course, care for the defective and recognize distinguished merit. The normal must care for themselves. Self government means self support. Man is born into the universe with a personality that is his own. He has a right that is founded upon the constitution of the universe to have property that is his own. Ultimately, property rights and personal rights are the same thing. The one cannot be preserved if the other be violated. Each man is entitled to his rights and the rewards of his service be they never so large or never so small.

History reveals no civilized people among whom there were not a highly educated class, and large aggregations of wealth, represented usually by the clergy and the nobility. Inspiration has always come from above. Diffusion of learning has come down from the university to the common school, the kindergarten is last. No one would now expect to aid the common school by abolishing higher education. It may be that the diffusion of wealth works in an analogous way. As the little red schoolhouse is builded in the college, it may be that the fostering and protection of large aggregations of wealth are the only foundation on which to build the prosperity of the whole people. Large profits mean large pay rolls. But profits must be the result of service performed. In no land are there so many and such large aggregations of wealth as here; in no land do they perform larger service; in no land will the work of a day bring so large a reward in material and spiritual welfare.

…Do the day’s work. If it be to protect the rights of the weak, whoever objects, do it. If it be to help a powerful corporation better to serve the people, whatever the opposition, do that. Expect to be called a stand patter, but don’t be a stand patter. Expect to be called a demagogue, but don’t be a demagogue. Don’t hesitate to be as revolutionary as science. Don’t hesitate to be as reactionary as the multiplication table. Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong. Don’t hurry to legislate. Give administration a chance to catch up with legislation. We need a broader, firmer, deeper faith in the people; A faith that men desire to do right, that the Commonwealth is founded upon a righteousness which will endure, a reconstructed faith that the final approval of the people is given not to demagogues, slavishly pandering to their selfishness, merchandising with the clamor of the hour, but to statesmen, ministering to their welfare, representing their deep, silent, abiding convictions.

Are they any men and women who hold such beliefs honestly and without trickery in their hearts these days?

Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?

SIDENOTE: Over at the website for his book, David Pietruska provides an epilogue of what happened to all of the non-main characters in his story.  This one I found very interesting:

Lothrop Stoddard, author of The Rising Tide of Color, continued writing racist books, including 1922’s proto-Nazi The Revolt against Civilization: The Menace of the Underman. In 1921, with Margaret Sanger, he helped found the American Birth Control League and served on its Board of Directors. In 1940, Stoddard interviewed Hitler, Himmler, and Goebbels for the North American Newspaper Alliance and conferred with prominent German eugenicists. He died in Washington, D.C. on May 1, 1950. He was 66.

Exploring the roots of the modern pro-abortionist movement are never a dull exercise.

9 Comments
  1. Sean Sculley permalink
    18 August 2010 @ 15:06 15:06

    Fantastic post as was the Chicom spike bench caper
    Never a dull moment in the COS!
    Many thanks,
    SWS

    • bobbelvedere permalink*
      18 August 2010 @ 16:49 16:49

      Sean: You’re quite welcome.

  2. 18 August 2010 @ 19:41 19:41

    In similar fashion … I’m in the middle of reading “The Cult of the Presidency,” an outstanding walk through history that explains a lot regarding how we got to where we are now – in a mind boggling mess.

    We could use a good man like Coolidge these days. Desperately. But would the populace go for it? Right or left? Unfortunately, we’ve come to expect too much from an office originally designed to do practically nothing. Coolidge was the last of the traditional presidents.

  3. Adobe Walls permalink
    19 August 2010 @ 01:12 01:12

    We could use a lot more of those simple people Coolidge was describing.

  4. bobbelvedere permalink*
    19 August 2010 @ 08:44 08:44

    TheCL: How about a combo of Cleveland, Coolidge, and The Raygun?

  5. bobbelvedere permalink*
    19 August 2010 @ 08:49 08:49

    Adobe: That brings up an interesting point. I think one of the good things to come out of the Restoration Movement is that many of us are simplifying our thinking. One of the most used tools by the Bolshes is the sowing of confusion in the soul through the insistence that everything is grey and nothing is black and white, that every issue contains nuance. The fact is: a lot of things in life are pretty straight forward, up or down, good or evil. I think we’re starting to get back to that clear-headed way of thinking.

  6. 19 August 2010 @ 12:49 12:49

    How about a combo of Cleveland, Coolidge, and The Raygun?

    I not only found Ronald Reagan inspiring, but believe him to be the only sincere man to sit in the Oval Office during my lifetime, and one of only 2 over the entire 20th century. But certain aspects of his administration troubled me. I have my theories, but haven’t had the time for thorough research. As much as I appreciate the man, he’d rank third on that list, but I’d certainly be happy to see him in office again.

    • bobbelvedere permalink*
      20 August 2010 @ 20:08 20:08

      TheCL: I would agree. He had strength, courage, Common Sense and, unlike the others, was a moving speaker when he was on his game – an important trait in a leader.

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