I’ve been reading the biography of Theodore Roosevelt as my quarterly and self-improvement project. This is the original work by Henry Pringle, considered the definitive source on “Old Teddy.”
I find it to be a fascinating look at a very fascinating individual. While TR was, by all accounts, rather “high maintenance” by today’s standards, he was also overcome with the fervent desire to do the right things by the country.
More than that, though, is the revealing look into the inner workings of politics provided by the book. Today, we clamor for transparency and disclosure in politics. But there was none of that back then. For the politicians of T.R.’s day, it was about deal brokering, special influence peddling and a fervent desire to dominate the opposition. The politicians of his day no more considered themselves "men of the people" than today's political luninaries.
The more I read up on it, in fact, the more I find there is little difference in today’s politics than in Teddy's day. Oh, we cling to a pretense of openness and we give lip service to honesty. But these aren't qualities and attributes we actually hold anyone to.
When Barak Obama won the election I was interested to see Democrats in Congress pumping their fists, red-faced and flushed with emotion. As they jumped and reeled in giddy triumph, I was more shocked to hear the shouts from these so-called leaders… “We’re gonna show them – Now it’s our turn to stick it to ‘em!”
No mention was made by any of them about serving the people of their districts, or looking out for the country’s best interests. No, it was retribution time in their minds, and a pound of someone's flesh was going to be taken.
NOTE: This vid clip quickly disappeared from the various media outlets. I don't think it lasted a day and I doubt you can even find it on YouTube anymore.
The more I learn about how the fabric of politics is really woven, the more I realize that it is the very lack of unity that makes us strongest. Think about it for a minute:
If we are all of one mind, sharing one voice in a society-wide group hug… then what we have is a monocracy.
Democracy and individual choice is gone. There is no dissent, there is no one to raise the red flag in a monocratic rule when something isn't right.
Frankly, I'm firm in the belief that it is not in us to be unified. To impose togetherness on us artificially is the height of ignorance, or requires total brainwashing of the indivdiual.
This is why, in the end, Utopia never works out and why so many promised reforms fall short. Sooner or later, someone wises up and revolts – individually and often enough collectively. The trouble is, it’s very hard to undue the harm done by the ersatz "reformists" of the world while they hold sway. Best to nip it in the bud, before it goes too far, and let us go on with our separate ideals.
That is what Teddy would have done.