What the Democrats have been up to since Brown’s election

If you’ve been wondering what happened with the seating of Scott Brown as U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, the Washington Times provides the unedifying lowdown. Even though the Democrats in the immediate aftermath of Brown’s victory backed off their thuggish talk of delaying his certification and swearing-in so as to push through the health care bill, they did in fact delay his seating as long as they possibly could under the law—15 days. They used that window of opportunity, among other things, to pass a huge increase in the debt ceiling in order to allow Obama his huge expansion of the deficit. Yesterday, February 3, was the 15th day since Brown’s election, and now, finally, the Democratic governor of Massachusetts has no choice but to certify the election and allow Brown to join the U.S. Senate as its 41st Republican member.

The Democratic Party (called at that time the Republican Party) began in the 1790s, with its founder, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, fomenting from behind the scenes vicious accusations in the Jeffersonian press that the President he served, George Washington, was plotting to make himself king. Jefferson helped encourage these lies, even though it was he who had persuaded Washington, much against Washington’s own desires, to remain in office for a second term. It was arguably the worst single act of vindictive double dealing in American history, and when Washington to his shock found out about it a couple of years later, after Jefferson had left the administratation, he ended his relationship with Jefferson and never communicated with him again, except on brief impersonal business matters. Today the Democratic Party, true to its roots in vindictive Jacobinism,—a vindictiveness that justifies itself by imagining that its opponents represent ultimate evil—is as low and dishonest as when it started out.


Note: Notwithstanding the tone of the above, I am not a Jefferson hater. I don’t think it is possible for a person who cares about America simply to hate Jefferson, as he is one of the most interesting and emblematic figures in our history. But his dark, dishonest side—which was inseparable from his egalitarian idealism—is an established part of the historical record.

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I’ve written previously about this prototypical but little known incident in American history, in my thoughts on James Thomas Flexner’s four volume biography of Washington:

I was also struck by the tragedy that unfolds in Volume Four, a scarcely known chapter in American history. “Anguish and Farewell” is exactly the right subtitle for this book. Having given up his highest values—the universal esteem of all Americans and his happy life in Mount Vernon, achieved at such great cost—to become a political leader, Washington now endures an almost Christlike betrayal. The worst betrayer was Jefferson, who successfully urged Washington against his will to remain for a second term as President, even as, behind his back, he encouraged vicious attacks against him as a proto-monarchist out to destroy the Constitution. When Washington discovered what Jefferson had been up to (Jefferson had left the government at this point), he wrote him a letter in which he made clear his indignation, while expressing it in the most restrained manner. It was their last personal contact. Reading of Jefferson’s dishonesty and vindictiveness toward Washington is a harrowing experience that will forever alter your view of the man. Flexner’s account of the bitter politics of the 1790s, with its astonishing element of revolutionary hatred that had been triggered in the souls of many Americans by the French Revolution, should be read by anyone who wants to understand the long pedigree of leftism in American life.

In the above, I don’t address the question why Jefferson so strongly urged Washington to stay on as president, even while attacking him behind his back as a monarchist.

The answer is that Jefferson sincerely believed that the new government depended on Washington’s continuance in office for another term, but that he also was deeply alarmed at what he saw as Washington’s monarchist tendencies, by which he basically meant Washington’s refusal to take the side of revolutionary France against Britain, but instead keeping the United States neutral in the conflict at all costs. The division in Jefferson’s mind vis a vis Washington is, again, deeply typical of liberalism. With one side of his personality, the liberal wants his country to survive and thrive; but with another side of his personality, he identifies with an egalitarian ideology according which his own country is shameful and wicked, and the liberal is forever veering back and forth between these two attitudes.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 04, 2010 09:31 AM | Send

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