history, humor, oversimplify, politics

Who Wrote That?

The following 3 quotes all come from the same person.  Can U guess who? 

  1. The citizens … must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they themselves have called into being.
  2. It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced.   Corporate expenditures for political purposes … have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs.
  3. Those who oppose all reform will do well to remember that ruin in its worst form is inevitable if our national life brings us nothing better than swollen fortunes for the few and the triumph in both politics and business of a sordid and selfish materialism.

The choices listed in the following poll have varying plausibility; they do include the actual author.   Please have a go before scrolling down to see the answer and why it matters.

Scroll down for the answer …


The image of the US Constitution’s famous oversimplification “We the People” was downloaded and resized from http://mtviewmirror.com/wp-content/uploads/we-the-people-9.jpg.

All of the quotes are from a speech on The New Nationalism delivered 1910-08-31 by Theodore Roosevelt.  More than a century later, the work has still not been done.  More than a century later, pseudoconservatives still dump truckloads of ratcrap on anybody who opposes running the USA for the benefit of the biggest corporations and richest billionaires.

What to do in 2016?  Yes, I feel the pull toward a protest vote like writing in Bernie Sanders (or Theodore Roosevelt).  In what is not so obviously a mere gesture of protest, I could vote Green or Libertarian.  But I will not.  Unless U live in a cobalt blue or screaming red state, voting Green or Libertarian in 2016 is voting for Trump.  In the real world, all options suck.  Some suck worse than others.  Much worse.

Yes, one can hope that the combination of Trump in the White House with McConnell and Ryan dominating Congress will be so blatantly toxic that “the people” finally wake up, rise up, and wrest control from the plutocrats.  Alas, the 99% of us who are getting shafted includes bigots and nitwits.  It includes those who bought the Fox News claim to be fair and balanced.  It includes heavily armed crazies like Omar Mateen and Dylan Roof.

Popular uprisings do succeed now and then, as when the government of East Germany collapsed in 1989.  Hey, the good people on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall suffered only 44 years (*) of communist oppression before that.  More often, uprisings are either crushed (as in Hungary 1956) or seem successful for a while but descend into chaotic violence that spawns yet another tyranny (French Revolution; Russian Revolution; Arab Spring; …).

So I will trudge to the polls, hold my nose, and vote for Hillary.  I will also remember a more familiar quotation from TR, excerpted below with a few letters added in italics:

It is not the critic who counts; … The credit belongs to the woman who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; … ; who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; …

While Hillary is deeply flawed, she is not one of those “timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat” detested by TR.  For that matter, neither is Trump.  He has other issues.  While TR was far from being a pacifist, he could see the downside of putting an impulsive jerk in a position to start a war.  That jerk also thinks appeasing the NRA is more important than making it harder for crazies like Adam Lanza to murder school children and their teachers.

(*) The physical wall stood for less than 44 years, but the whole point of erecting it was to stop desperate dashes thru the political wall erected in 1945.
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16 thoughts on “Who Wrote That?

  1. There is a benefit to a vote and nomination of Trump for President. It doesn’t even deal with his politics or his approach to change. It deals with a “passive” revolution to a system more interested in maintaining its structure and elitist status. Two party politics does NOT offer REAL CHOICE to create REAL OPPORTUNITY for growth and development for those without resources. Two party politics aims to increase domestic growth for the purposes of increased personal EXPENDITURE to support the US economy. Two party politics views a national debt where the “skies the limit.” Two party politics attempts to LIMIT change by imposing a system designed to mitigate critical thinking while maintaining “more of the same” with a color assignment (blue or red) that claims ideological differences to choose from. For over 40 years, health care, medicare, education, social security have been issues that each platform claims solutions for, yet remain the same issues today. Both parties use FEAR to achieve their ends.

    A vote for Donald (God willing he doesn’t destroy what currently exists) just might show the two party system that common people are willing to listen to and follow third, fourth and fifth party candidates. The APPROVAL VOTING METHOD just might find its way into our system providing better choices of candidates with varying ideologies allowing critical thinkers to express themselves.

    A vote for Hillary (in my opinion) is a vote for MORE OF THE SAME. Our choices are limited; the outcome, however, can open doors for future candidates if we vote AGAINST our current two party system. By the way, for those who believe Trump is a Republican, I would argue “Trump is whatever it takes to get elected.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is indeed a lot to be said for approval voting (or the Borda count). There is also a lot to be said for having parties that advocate coherent (and differing) visions of how to provide real opportunities for those not born rich, and for campaigns that debate those visions in a thoughtful way. How to get there?

      The sad truth is that a vote for Trump is not a vote for anything like approval voting or multiparty politics or critical thinking. A vote for Trump is a vote for bigotry and recklessness, for making stuff up rather than dealing with thorny problems.

      Whether a vote for Hillary is a vote for more of the same depends largely on 2 things that are unknown, at least until November. (1) Bernie pulled her in progressive directions; will she revert to the version of centrism that seemed good at the time (Bill’s presidency) but had hidden time bombs? (2) Will Congress be flipped from red to blue?

      Once in a while, we have a situation where one of the major US parties holds the White House, dominates both chambers of Congress (which requires about 60% of the Senate, under current rules), and has a rough consensus about what it wants to accomplish. Then we do get real changes, as in the New Deal. With an executive branch elected separately from a bicameral legislature, gerrymandered House districts, and campaigns dependent on the goodwill of wealthy donors for financing simplistic ads, we have gridlock baked in most of the time, broken more often by occasional mass delusions (as in the authorization for the 2nd Iraq war) than by substantive deliberations.

      While I agree that the current US 2-party system stinks, I do not attach much importance to the number 2. We could have similar gridlock with 3 or more parties, as with a Green majority in the House of Representatives, a Libertarian majority in the Senate, and a Tory in the White House. Israel has a zillion parties, and that does not work well. No major party holds enough seats in the Knesset (their unicameral legislature) to govern, so whoever is trying to form a government has to make deals with minor parties, each of which is narrowly focused on its own parochial agenda. In their different ways, both the US and Israel suffer from systems that usually prevent elections from making serious decisions about which way to go. Devising a better system is tough; getting it adopted is even tougher.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Trump fucking scares me as do a lot of Republicans who preach about God and then attack each other (within their own party) as if there is no merit, no honor, and no God. I’ll vote for Hillary with a clear conscience.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Very chuffed to have got the answer! One wouldn’t intuitively associate it with T. Roosevelt but it was a time when huge fortunes and monopolies were a source of concern – a time we seem to have encountered again. And when I say ‘we’, it’s global (not being American myself, simply a very aghast bystander).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for responding to the poll (and getting the right answer for a good reason); it is a little disappointing that nobody else has tried. On the other hand, it is a lot disappointing that the world in general (and the US in particular) has frittered away so much of the hard-won progress from well after TR’s time but well before now.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, I got the wrong answer for the poll; however, I believe I got it wrong for the right reasons… huh?

    Anyway… fantastic post my friend. You covered the issue so well, I don’t have much more to add. Although, I will agree with one of the comments about voting for Hillary with a clear conscience. I, like you, wish we had a better alternative but the worse Trump gets, the better choice Hillary becomes. Thanks for sharing the link with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From now til 11-08 is a fairly long time, so I have hopes U will think of yet another unusual angle for approaching this big topic. I do think nonstandard arguments are helpful; the standard ones have long since convinced everybody they will ever convince.


  5. Sorry! I kind of cheated (not really). I thought I had taken the poll when I first read this shortly after you posted. But in reading the comment, it apparently didn’t “take”. So I went back and voted for Bernie since that was who I thought had said the quotes when first reading.

    Mel I appreciate you posting this and generating a political conversation.

    I am actually optimistic about things politically right now. I am a Libertarian. I believe less government is generally better than more. I believe that most of the time when government acts, it necessarily must be picking a winner, i.e., determining one persons/groups rights trump another’s (sorry for the distractive pun). The more decisions that can be made on a more local and decentralized basis, the better. But I am also not a militant Libertarian and acknowledge there is sometimes a place for the “heavy hand of government”. Generally I think the growing disproportionate movement of income and power that we have seen recently is due to the distortions introduced by government laws and regulations. But I am optimistic because I see the growth of technology and the energy and attitudes of the wonderful “younger generation” moving us into a coming age of enlightenment and empowerment. We are truly in the curve and opportunities are growing exponentially. Human interactions, which are also increasing exponentially, most always create mutually beneficial results and both parties are better. I know that sounds pollyanna. A book that changed my life was “Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny” by Robert Wright. This is the very “over-simplified” thesis.

    I am in Florida which is a battleground state. I am probably voting for Hillary. I say probably because I would like to vote for Johnson, the Libertarian. But I don’t want my vote to come anywhere close to potentially unintentionally electing the blowhard-fearmongering-threat-to-national-security-raise-tariffs-35%-I’m-using-this-office-for-my-own-gain-narcissist Trump. But I’ve always been a believer that eventually all truths are revealed. And so I am also optimistic because the polls seem to be indicating that finally more and more of the die hard vote-Republican-anything-but-Hillary crowd may be finally coming to their senses. I think it will be an historic landslide. And I actually think there is the potential as we look back decades hence, that we may see Hillary was truly an historically good president.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My own general attitude is basically libertarian conservative, with deep distrust of concentrated power in any form (federal gov; big corporations; big unions; …). I agree that faulty legislating and regulating is partly responsible for the absurd levels of economic inequality we see now (and had not seen since the runup to the Great Depression).

      I do like “Bernie Sanders” as the best poll answer other than the correct one, and I am glad U took the trouble to make it stick when PollDaddy lost it the 1st time. When I happened to read TR’s New Nationalism speech recently, I was amazed at how much the substance overlaps with a typical Sanders speech. Then I was amused to see how much could be lifted out w/o distortion yet w/o topical references and stylistic quirks that would expose TR as the author.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve always been suspicious of Hillary because of her cosiness with big business. On the other hand, this seems like a minor quibble when contrasted against the myriad catastrophic faults of her opponent. I don’t think voting for change for change’s sake is a very good idea. Changes can be for the better or they can be for the worse. It’s important to know which it’s likely to be before voting for it. Just my two cents, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dunno why WordPress put your comment in my spam queue. Maybe WP is as paranoid as Trump supporters about people with bags over their heads. I have put a few more specifics into e-mail. Just in case your e-mail account has a paranoid filter, please be assured that mail from [MellowCurmudgeon brosen24@optimum.net] is for real.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Visiting other people’s spam folders has become something of a hobby for me. I think I’m probably so good at it because of some mistake with the way I’ve set up my blog. (This seems likely because I basically have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to the technical side of blogging.) Thank you for taking the time to email me about it. I appreciate it. I’ll take a careful look at it when I get home. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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