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Why I'm here (this blog's raison d'etre) - Part II (of II)

Is everything as it's always been? I touched on this point last week. American political life has from its very beginnings been filled with animus and rancor. The election of 1800, pitting John Adams against Thomas Jefferson, two American icons, was filled with the very worst tactics of political campaigning: mud-slinging, backstabbing, and scare-mongering, making it not much different from the American presidential elections of the 21st century. The election of 1824 between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson was a particularly nasty affair, featuring all sorts of slanders and outrageous fabrications.

This thought reminds me of an op-ed written by a conservative columnist years ago, in which he argued that the voting patterns in Tennessee in the 19th century were basically the same as they are today. The gist of his argument was there's nothing to be improved upon and we should be content with the way things are (since that's the way it's always been).

So, there you …
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Why I'm here (this blog's raison d'etre) - Part I (of II)

Is the United States in terminal decline, or is the American Republic so durable and its institutions so well-created that nothing can undo it? If the answer is the latter, this blog will have a short existence. As soon as I get a little more evidence for it, I will close up shop and occupy my time some other way. If it's the former, it's about time "We The People" did something about it.

On the face of it, this is a question for historians, who, by virtue of their training, can (or ought to be able to) see long-term trends. Much of what we experience today, after all, has been seen before. That's why George Santayana remarked, "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." This is a point lost in our 24/7 media frenzy, whose purveyors promote the novelty and urgency of the most minute and trivial of events as though it's all new and of the greatest import.

I will say more about this at some future point. For now, a lot of people (…