Friday, June 5, 2015

What If Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton Were Around Today?

C.F. Payne rendition of Hamilton, Jefferson
and Madison: 'Hey! What if we got it wrong?'
What would their political discourse be today?

We know there are the modern-day equivalents of Messrs. Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton in America today. We have met them by the dozens, hundreds by now across the state. Very accomplished people who care deeply about what is going on in North Carolina and the country.

The only difference?

Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton ran for public political office in the 18th century and made a massive difference not only for generations of Americans to follow (half of all Americans who have ever lived are still living today oddly enough) but whose ideas of freedom and democracy have been exported the world over.

All because they ran for public office.

Imagine that happening today. Our very best and talented citizens deciding to run for political office even if they only serve 2-3 terms in any elective body. Anywhere.

We got to wondering what the conversations of a modern-day Jefferson, Madison or Hamilton would be like given that so many #1 draft picks who are their modern-day equals have willfully opted not to face the challenges of modern-day politics and have declined to run for public office. At any level.

As hard as it might be to imagine our Founders not meeting the challenges of today, suspend your disbelief for a few moments and see what you think about the following 'conversation' that could very easily take place on a golf course, in a university club somewhere or maybe at a dinner with spouses and friends over one of George Washington's distilled libations:

'Oh man. Obama has done it again' says Tom Jefferson.

'What is it this time, Tom?' says Jim Madison.

'Oh, this time all President Obama has done has been to appease the Muslims in Iran by giving them nuclear capability they can turn into a nuclear device in 10 years or so'(1)

'That might be the first time you have been right in a long time, Tom!' says Alex Hamilton.

'Thanks, Alex. That means a lot to me, as in a lotta nothing!' retorts Tom.

'Hey, Alex!' pipes in Jim. 'Wadja think about the way President Obama concentrates a lot of power in the White House and basically ignores the Constitution and tries to bypass Congress all the time?'

'What is wrong with that? responds Alex. 'We need a strong executive in the White House. You know, like George Washington long ago. If our Founding Fathers hadn't given him strong executive powers to run the military and make decisions he thought were best for the country 223 years ago, we might still be a British colony!'

'Yeah' says Tom. 'Back then they were bitching about 'no taxation without representation!' Today we HAVE taxation WITH representation! What is so great about that?'

'You shoulda been a Federalist, Alex' scolded Jim. 'Instead of a fire-breathing Progressive Democrat who wants to run everything out of Washington'

'I still don't see what is wrong with that' Alex says.

'What about this $18 trillion national debt Obama has helped ring up?' interjects Tom as he cracks open a beer. 'He has rung up more additional debt that any President dating back to your beloved George Washington, big fella!' 

'Every President has rung up more debt than any President since Washington' snaps back Alex. 'It is a bigger country today than back then, you moron!'

'Aren't you worried about it in even the least little bit, Alex?' asks Jim.

'Of course I am worried about it. I just think we need to solve these massive problems first and then take care of the debt. After all, if you two clowns knew anything about international finance, which you obviously don't, you would know that we can keep issuing debt because America is still the safest place to harbor money in the world. And, to top it all off, we will pay of this debt just like we have all the other debt in history: with inflation over time.'

'Great' says Tom. 'That is all we need. Another dose of Jimmy Carter-led double-digit inflation! That about killed my family business in 1980, bub!'

'Well, what are you going to do about any of this?' asks Alex.

'Waddya mean 'What are we going to do about this?' asks Tom and Jim in tandem.

'I mean, are you going to run for Congress or something to fix these massive problems or go to work in the federal government as a Cabinet undersecretary or something or run for the state legislature to work on state problems such as public education or repaving these terrible roads that knock my car out of alignment every week or local office such as city council, county commission or school board?'

'Are you freaking kidding? Heck no, I am not running for any public office!' said Tom. 'I have been tinkering with inventing a few things and my roses are in the running for 'best rose' at this year's annual show. Ever since my wife passed away, I have been pretty busy writing, playing music and teaching at The University. Plus I have that big family business that needs tending to although I have tried to turn it over to some competent managers, who are hard to find'

'Tell me about it, Tom!'
interjects Jim. 'I have 5 kids, all in private school with big private tuitions if you know what I mean. We have the big house in Montpelier to tend to plus we have vacation homes all over the place and country club memberships I have lost track of counting. How could I ever think about running for public office?'

'I know what you are talking about' said Alex. 'I have been writing so much I feel like my fingers are about to fall off. My law practice is keeping me pretty busy and since we have offices in New York, Washington and London, I am always flying around back and forth trying to keep things going. I just don't see how I could possibly do all that and run for public office too!'

'Oh well' sighs Tom Jefferson. 'I guess we will have a presidential election in 18 months and then we will have a new President and things will get better'

'Yeah, that's right. There is only so much a man can do' says Jim. 'Only so much a man can do'

'Now if Hillary Clinton wins, I might go work for her as her Secretary of the Treasury' Alex Hamilton pipes in.

'How much did you give to the Clinton Foundation anyway, Alex?' laughs Tom as Jim rolls his eyes. 'See ya next week. Same time. Same place.'

And off they go back to their homes and real daily life activities. Never to be seen on a ballot, giving a political speech or advocating change for the public good in any government setting.

Sad, isn't it?

(1) Jefferson, who was not an international interventionalist by any stretch of the imagination or a warmonger to any degree, sent the US Navy to crush the Muslim Barbary Pirates of Tripoli who were demanding ransom for hostages. Ransom payments to such pirates amounted to 20% of the annual federal budget at the time

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