Patience, Republicans, Patience

On 2009.09.10, in Politics, by Greg

George Washington was succeeded in the presidency by John Adams. At the time, it was hoped that political parties would not be necessary because of a strong desire for unity in thought. It did not take long for parties to emerge. The first two parties were the Federalists and the Republicans. John Adams was a member of the Federalists and Thomas Jefferson was a member of the Republicans. (The “Democratic-Republican” Party of that day was the ancestor of the modern Democratic Party.) During Adam’s presidency there was a concern that criticism of the Federalists would undermine the effectiveness of the nascent government. The Federalists were successful in passing the “Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.” Of this series of four acts, the fourth, the Sedition Act, was used by the Federalists to silence criticism.  It made it a crime to publish “false, scandalous, and malicious writing” against the government or its officials. Twenty-five people, primarily editors of newspapers critical of the Federalists, were arrested. Ten were convicted of sedition often in trials before openly partisan Federalist judges. Ultimately the Acts backfired on the Federalists and were largely responsible for the ultimate demise of the party. Over the years, Congress repeatedly apologized and provided recompense to the victims of the Acts.

During this period, Jefferson was serving as vice-president, and urged patience of his fellow Republicans, arguing correctly that the Sedition Act would backfire on the  Federalists. He wrote in a letter to John Taylor in 1798 “A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight,  restore their government to it’s true principles. It is true that in the mean time we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the  horrors of a war & long oppressions of enormous public debt. . . . If  the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till  luck turns, & then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the  principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are the take. Better luck, therefore, to us all; and health, happiness, &  friendly salutations to yourself.”

In last night’s radio program, Dennis Miller urged essentially the same to his listeners. The Democrats of our time will do themselves in by their actions. They are “digging their own graves” with the massive deficits, tyrannical use of their majority, and attacks on their critics.

The Supreme Court has said “The nation has no right to expect that it will always have wise and humane rulers, sincerely attached to the principles of the Constitution. Wicked men, ambitious of power, with hatred of liberty and contempt of law, may fill the place once occupied by Washington and Lincoln.” Wicked men, indeed. With hatred of liberty and contempt of law, indeed.

And so it is much the same in our day as it was for Jefferson, except of course that we don’t have a founding father in the White House. Let us pray that the end of this misery will come soon. Meanwhile, patience Republicans, patience.

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