It’s been awhile since I’ve done any sort of book review. But having just completed Adam Schrager’s The Principled Politician: The Ralph Carr Story, it seemed an apt time to change that. Those who won’t want to miss this book include students of Colorado history, fans of the World War II era (especially the home front), and anyone interested in a sadly forgotten inspirational story that seems foreign in today’s all-too-jaded and polarized world of politics.
As introduced to readers in The Principled Politician, Ralph Carr (1887-1950) — Republican governor of Colorado from 1939 to 1943 — was a rare model of statesmanship. Fittingly, he held deep admiration and adulation for our nation’s 16th president Abraham Lincoln. He recognized the value of Lincoln’s political maxim — “A universal feeling, whether well or ill founded, cannot be safely disregarded” — and sought to balance it with a commitment to upholding and advancing the ideal of equality under the law. (more…)
Coloradans need to wake up to the threat of House Bill 1299, which would spit on the U.S. Constitution and render Colorado irrelevant in national political elections. The Left is pushing the issue forward because it can, hoping to prey on the ignorance and apathy of the general populace. But perhaps they forgot what happened with Amendment 36 in 2004, which voters rejected nearly two-to-one.
HB 1299 is worse than that: Rather than divide up Colorado’s electoral votes proportionally based on our own state’s popular vote, this bill would sell all our electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. Colorado truly would be political flyover country, our state’s interests all but forgotten. (more…)
Update: Warner Todd Huston has a lengthier, more eloquent, and thoughtful piece up for your perusal.
Today is the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. And I’d be remiss not to acknowledge the moment. Ironically, even as we would honor the day of his birth, Lincoln himself would dismiss all inquiries about his youth and upbringing on the Frontier as “the short and simple annals of the poor”.
A man of rare ambition, savvy, and statesman-like vision, the colorful and quasi-religious mythology about our 16th President misses the mark, but not by as much as it would with most historical actors we can study. Outside the God-man Christ Jesus there have been no perfect men, no flawless or superhuman men, who have lived among us. But that doesn’t mean we have to imbibe the politically correct dogma that history is propelled forward overwhelmingly by sweeping social forces.
There are great men in history, and Abraham Lincoln is one of them. (Despite his best efforts to try to construct a comparative mythology, our current President is no Abraham Lincoln.) Black Power activists on the far left and neo-Confederate sympathizers on the far right are free to speak their piece, and they’re free to be wrong. I’ve been down this path before, and I have no time to travel down it again. (more…)
I don’t have time to put down much original thought this morning, so here are three pieces I commend to readers on the Morning After the inauguration.
First, the Denver Post‘s David Harsanyi eloquently asks the rhetorical question many of us have wanted to ask:
Do all Americans truly have a yearning to fundamentally “remake” our nation? There must be a subversive minority out there that still believes the United States â€” even with its imperfections and sporadic recessions â€” is, in context, still a wildly prosperous and free country worth preserving.
Some of you must still believe that politicians are meant to serve rather than be worshiped. And there must be someone out there who considers partisanship a healthy, organic reflection of our differences rather than something to be surrendered in the name of so- called unity â€” which is, after all, untenable, subjective and utterly counterproductive.
How about those who praised dissent for the past eight years?
David, consider me part of this subversive minority. (more…)
From the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech:
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” (more…)
Some cliches are just that because they pack so much truth, they become a frequent, handy reference. One of my favorites (originally attributed to conservative thinker George Santayana) is: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
I can’t think of anything more relevant to our current national political debate than this thoughtful and well-documented essay posted by Ross Kaminsky at Politics West: “The New Deal was a raw deal for the American economy”.
These days, the point can’t be hammered home enough. As of yet, I’ve seen little signs that any significant number of our leaders in Washington – many Republicans and nearly all Democrats – have paid attention to this historical lesson. The ramifications may be enormous.
Looking ahead to 2010 and beyond, this is what I want to see in the United States of America:
- A biblical, spiritual revival … something for which I pray to God
- The revitalization of conservatism (a shared value in the Founders’ “constrained vision”) in American public life … something of which I seek to persuade others
- A Republican Party more informed by conservative, limited government principles … also something of which I seek to persuade others
- A governing Republican Party majority …something for which I volunteer and vote
Where incompatibilities between the above priorities can be proven with a reasonable degree of likelihood, the higher priority wins. (And no, I can’t think of any situation where voting for or against a political candidate has any bearing on the possibility of a revival.)
For those who believe I have nothing good to say about our President-elect Barack Obama. He at least has some good taste in contemporary historical literature:
It so happens that Obama and New York Sen. Clinton share a reverence for “Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book about how Lincoln brought foes into his fold. Clinton listed it during the campaign as the last book she had read. Obama, clearly a student of Lincoln, spoke of it several times.
Now past could be prologue.
Obama is considering Clinton for secretary of state or another senior position, meeting John McCain on Monday to see how his Republican presidential rival might help him in the Senate, and sizing up one-time opponents in both parties for potential recruitment. He made one Democratic presidential opponent, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, his running mate. [link added]
In the coming days, as Obama’s appointments come forth, I may take the opportunity to deconstruct the breathless comparisons with the Lincoln presidency. For now, I’m glad to know we share an appreciation for Team of Rivals.
Are you up for a little distracting whimsy? A former elected official, Boulder attorney and self-proclaimed “former Republican” (one of the more popular descriptors being bandied about these days) offers this (over) dose of elitist smugness, painful self-indulgence, overwrought rhetoric, and selective historical knowledge:
I was a Republican for 28 years. Like so many others who now vote Democratic, I didnâ€™t leave the party â€” it left me. Based on the analyses of this monthâ€™s election, it also left college graduates, suburbanites and Hispanics in the red-state dust. The sad fact is that a map of the few counties that voted more Republican than they did in 2004 neatly overlays maps showing the nationâ€™s highest rates of obesity, poverty and lack of education â€” call it the Deliverance Belt â€” a sad state of affairs for the party of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.
As much as the Republican Party needs reform, it wonâ€™t happen. The far right chorus still bellows â€œWe Shall Not Be Moved,â€ with solos by the three tenors: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill Oâ€™Reilly.
Yes, the notoriously out-of-touch Limbaugh, Hannity, and O’Reilly (O’Reilly??) hold Security Council-like veto power over the Republican Party platform. So scrap the Party and move Left? Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Update: An astute observer has corrected a factual mistake. James Madison wrote “much of” – not “most of” – the Federalist. Alexander Hamilton wrote more, though Madison wrote many of the key essays that frame the meaning of Union. My faux pas.
The following is adapted and expanded from an email listserv essay I wrote recently, inspired initially in response to the following phrase someone had written: “The American Republic created by the founding fathers was destroyed by the civil war….” Here is my argument why libertarians should think long and hard before embracing a defense of the Confederate cause:
Quite simply, the noble libertarian impulse to champion resistance to government encroachment on people’s freedoms has led many astray to assail the Union’s cause during the Civil War and to embrace the validity of the Confederate cause.
This is not to imply in the contemporary spirit of relativist debate that holding this reflexive position necessarily makes one a racist or slavery apologist. But the line of argument that has been used takes the misguided tack of placing all blame on the eventual victors of the Civil War, while giving short shrift to the question of the war’s causation. Understanding who is responsible for the war and the political context of the era shrouds the ability to cast easy reflexive judgments against Lincoln that can be used to draw a straight line of rising statist oppression from then until now.
It was 145 years ago today that one of the more heroic and decisive – if also perhaps too well-known – actions in our nation’s Civil War took place. If you’ve seen the movie Gettysburg, then you know just what I’m talking about: The daring and desperate charge by the 20th Maine volunteer infantry regiment from its position on the far left flank of the Union line.
Led by Colonel (and future Governor) Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the 20th Maine swung down Little Round Top in the late afternoon of July 2 and captured numerous members of a Confederate raiding force that threatened a critical breakthrough in its own desperate Pennsylvania invasion. Chamberlain and the 20th Maine’s successful counter-charge played a pivotal role in setting the stage for General Robert E. Lee to dare the ill-fated Pickett’s Charge the following day.
Huzzah to Colonel Chamberlain and his 358 men, 131 of whom were killed or wounded atop Little Round Top that day. And to other lesser known regiments who paid an especially brutal price in the three-day fight at Gettsyburg, especially the 24th Michigan and 1st Minnesota.
Jason Janz – a personal acquaintance I met through his launching and running the successful Christian website Sharper Iron – wrote a Speakout published in today’s Rocky Mountain News about Denver’s upcoming Juneteenth celebration:
I am not African-American and I am going to Juneteenth. In fact, I believe that people of all ethnicities should attend if they are able. Why? Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom and equality, values that every American should embrace. Just because the peak of the civil rights movement has passed does not mean that racial tension in our community is gone. There is still much work to do. By standing next to the African-American community, you are showing solidarity with them as a partner for peace and harmony in our city.
I also believe that celebrating another culture will enrich your life. Learning about another culture will teach you much about your own. You cannot fully understand your own culture unless you understand others. Saturday will be a study for you in similarities and differences. You will see commonalities that show that all people are more alike than different. At the same time, you will see the differences between your culture and African-American culture as unique gifts from God to make this city a beautiful place to live and work.
Jason and his family left their more comfortable place in a suburban church ministry to start the multi-ethnic Providence Bible Church. If you are a Christian believer, please consider supporting the Janz family and their labor of love with your prayers. Or maybe you can join them at this Saturday’s Juneteenth celebration.
Yesterday, highlighting Governor Bill Ritter’s arrogant response to the recent court decision finding his property tax hike unconstitutional, Republican leaders in the state legislature Mike May and Andy McElhany dashed off a scathing letter:
It is irresponsible to assume that the Colorado Supreme Court will overturn the decision of the District Court that your property tax proposal from last year is unconstitutional.
A new analysis by Legislative Council shows that the cost of doing nothing to address this possibility, before the budget goes into effect on July 1, 2008, will be $272 million! The price of inaction is too great.
Serving in the justice system, you saw how difficult it is to win on appeal, and must recognize the need for a plan of action should the appeal fail.
It was unwise to ignore the opinion of Colorado Attorney General John Suthers: It is reckless to ignore both the attorney general and our District Court.
We are writing to request that you notify the legislature of your plan to address the unbalanced budget situation created by your unconstitutional property tax hike. As our governor, you have the power to make cuts to the budget or to call us into a special session.
If you refuse to act, we strongly believe you owe the people of Colorado an explanation as to why you are so certain that the Supreme Court will overturn the existing ruling.
We cannot help but wonder if you know something that the rest of Colorado does not, that causes you to be so confident that the Supreme Court, tasked with upholding justice and not agendas, will come down on your side….
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine.
Today, pay your respects to a fallen soldier, sailor, airman, Marine – and to their loved ones still with us. And don’t forget to thank the troops you meet for their service to us all. Happy Memorial Day!
Other local Memorial Day written and visual remembrances from Michael at Best Destiny, Jim at Thinking Right, Joshua at View from a Height, and Rossputin.
From farther afield, Maggie Thurber shares the history of Memorial Day, Fort Hard Knox posts the President’s Prayer for Peace, and Chuck Muth recounts the heroism of four recent Medal of Honor winners.