Those Americans who find themselves dismayed at the current lack of ethical and statesmanlike leadership in our country, replaced by the plodding puerile purgatory of partisan political power peddled to the highest bidder, need to be reminded that it was one of New York’s earlier self-styled political heroes, who preempted the Jeffersonian model of : “equal and exact justice to all… of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political;” as he spelled it out in his first inaugural Presidential address.
Someone has written that heroes are often created by popular demand, out of the scantiest materials and sometimes none at all, which seems to have been the case with Martin Van Buren, whose introduction of the ‘Spoils System’ of patronage, as payback for party precedence and loyalty, degraded our founders’ vision of equal opportunity and justice for all, to the partisan pawn brokerage of pelf and prejudice, that has reached the shameful nadir our governmental system reflects today. ‘Old Kinderhook’ may have earned himself an eternal place in the colloquial vocabulary of American politics but at what price to the hopes and dreams of the millions, who looked to our prototype of protection, for equal justice and an opportunity to realize the fruits of freedom, without impediments and kickbacks. It’s a pretty safe bet, that Van Buren, himself, didn’t consider the destructive extent to which today’s partisan political warfare would unhinge our system of governance.
Abraham Lincoln, the first truly Republican President, understood, only too well, the need to separate governance from partisan political control. “Politicians,” he said, “are a set of persons with interests aside from those of the people and are at least one long step removed from honest men. Being a politician my self,” he quipped, “none can regard this as personal.”
About one hundred and fifty years before Lincoln made his disparaging statement, the famed British poet and cultural commentator, Alexander Pope, said this: “Party is the madness of many, for the gain of a few.”
Now, if we can just convince the American people to take back legal and rightful control of their government, at the appropriate ballot box, from which ‘Old Kinderhook’ and his unsavory succession of political parasites purloined it.
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