Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Demystifying a National Hero

On this election day, I pause to reflect on the memory of the man responsible for forming the precursor to the modern day Democratic party: Thomas Jefferson.

Upon closer inspection, he seems to have formulated the current strategy of many of the old guard of the Democratic party today--the fine art of talking out of both sides of the mouth.

This is a man who proported to champion the common man. However, this is also a person who is famously quoted as saying he admired the commoner, at a distance. His Democratic-Republican party favored the rights of the righteous yeoman farmer who made money by his own means on his own plantation, no doubt off the back of slave labor.

Alexander Hamilton's Federalists preferred trade and capital over such isolationist sentiment.
Thus Hamilton's North industrialized rapidly and Jefferson's South stuck to agriculture.

I have ambivalent feelings towards Jefferson. On one hand, I admire his eloquence but on the other hand I have a difficult time reconciling his devotion of the radical Jacobins whose agenda pushed France into a Reign of Terror mirroring the worse excesses of 20th Century Totalitarianism. Jefferson never fought in the Revolutionary War, so he had a view of war that was grandiose and romantic.

Those who fight in war know what an inhuman and horrific experience it is. This is why, for example, Eisenhower tried every way in hell to avoid war unless as a means of last resort. It is why William T. Sherman famously mentioned that "Gentleman, war is hell."

It is a sort of Jeffersonian naivete on the part of our current emperor that has bogged us down in a no-win war in Iraq.

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