In which an older and wiser yet terminally earnest former liberal struggles to come to grips with the cynicism, hatred, and paranoia that plague both sides of the American political spectrum. "Can we all get along?"
NOTE: The above Web pages feature chronologies, maps, and other kinds of political information.
"The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again: and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered."
Edmund Burke, 2nd speech on conciliation with America, Mar. 22, 1775 (Bartlett's 16th ed., p. 331)
Mrs. Powel: "Well, Dr. Franklin, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?"
Benjamin Franklin: "A republic, if you can keep it."
After Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Sept. 18, 1787. (Bartlett's 16th ed.)
"As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other, and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves."
James Madison ("Publius"), The Federalist Papers No. 10 (1787)
"Of the three forms of sovereignty [autocracy, aristocracy, and democracy], democracy, in the truest sense of the word, is necessarily a despotism because it establishes an executive power through which all the citizens may make decisions about (and indeed against) the individual without his consent..."
Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795)
"To act successfully, that is, according to the rules of the political art, is political wisdom. To know with despair that the political act is inevitably evil, and to act nevertheless, is moral courage. To choose among several expedient actions the least evil one is moral judgment. In the combination of political wisdom, moral courage, and moral judgment, man reconciles his political nature with his moral destiny."
Hans Morgenthau, Scientific Man vs. Power Politics (1946), p. 203
"Thus, whenever a concrete threat to peace develops, war is opposed not by a world public opinion but by the public opinions of those nations whose interests are threatened by that war."
Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations 6th ed., rev. by Kenneth Thompson (1985), p. 288
"The texture of international politics remains highly constant, patterns recur, and events repeat themselves endlessly."
Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979), p. 66
"Men wiser and more learned than I have discerned in history a plot, a rhythm, a predetermined pattern. These harmonies are concealed from me. I can see only one emergency following upon another as wave follows upon wave, only one great fact with respect to which, since it is unique, there can be no generalizations, only one safe rule for the historian: that he should recognize in the development of human destinies the play of the contingent and the unforeseen."
H. A. L. Fisher, History of Europe (1935), p. vii [Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991), p. 80]
"Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favour."
Robert Frost, 'Black Cottage' North of Boston (1914), [Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991), p. 86]
"My thoughts encompass divinity, therefore divinity is. The divinity that my thoughts encompass is associated with the order that arises out of chaos... As we expand our knowledge of this realm, we ... see it in terms of one sublime order that awaits full realization."
Louis J. Halle, Out of Chaos (1977), p. 646
"Here, then, is the complexity, the fascination, and the tragedy of all political life. Politics are made up of two elements -- utopia and reality -- belonging to two different planes which can never meet."
E. H. Carr, The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939 2nd ed. (1946), p. 93.
"My biggest blunder in life was attempt to seek common ground with Keynesians, based on the naive thought that by putting my ideas in Keynesian language that I would make any dent on the Keynesians."
Milton Friedman, New York Times, July 4, 1999
"War made the state and the state made war."
Charles Tilly, The Formation of National States in Western Europe (1975), p. 42
"Americans like to mock Kuwaitis as rich and pampered and lazy and decadent, which is exactly what the rest of the world says about Americans. Actually, we shouldn't mock Kuwait at all. It represents the hopes and dreams of Americans of all political persuasions. For liberals, it's a generous welfare state with guaranteed employment and a huge government bureaucracy. For conservatives, it's a country with no taxes and plenty of cheap maids who aren't allowed to vote."
Peter Carlson, "Castles in the Sand," Washington Post Magazine Jan. 14, 1996, p. 32-33
"[Bill Clinton's] greatest strength is his insincerity... I've decided Bill Clinton is at his most genuine when he's the most phony... We know he doesn't mean what he says."
Newsweek reporter Howard Fineman, in a speech in Indiana quoted by Howard Kurtz, Washington Post Apr. 27, 1996
"Whatever one thinks of Bill Clinton, his opponents [*] must be thwarted. They are enemies of democracy and of the Constitution that insures its possibility. We long ago lost the luxury of choosing our allies. This is war."
* (referred to elsewhere in this piece as "mad dogs bent on political annihilation")
Eric Alterman, "Democracy Disappears" The Nation, Jan. 11-18, 1998
"There are no enemies in science, professor. Only phenomena to study."
From the movie The Thing, 1951 (a Cold War sci-fi allegory)
Julia Roberts: "Can you prove any of this?"
Mel Gibson: "No... A good conspiracy is unprovable. If you can prove it, someone must have screwed up somewhere along the way."
From the movie Conspiracy Theory
THE 16 WORDS: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Pres. George W. Bush, State of the Union address, Jan. 2003
"When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out."
Pastor Martin Niemõller
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
"Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, to have approached global warming as if it is real means energy conservation, so we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy."
Sen. Tim Wirth, 1988
But we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can, uh, find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy."
Nancy Pelosi, March 9, 2010
"However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion."
"And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there?"
The lead character "V," from the movie V Is for Vendetta
Father (watching a falcon fly) to his daughter: "Nothing is more important than freedom. ...
You don't know what it was like before the thinking people mucked up everything."
from the movie Great Day (1944)
"Julia, there is truth and there is untruth. To be in a minority of one doesn't make you mad."
The lead character Winston (played by John Hurt), from the movie 1984 (1984), based on George Orwell's book 1984.
|Health & H.S.:||Xavier Becerra|
|Housing & U.D.:||Marcia Fudge|
|Veterans Aff.:||Denis McDonough|
|Homeland Sec.:||Alejandro Mayorkas|
|Other cabinet-level posts:|
|W.H. Ch./Staff *||Ronald Klain|
|U.S. Trade Rep.||Katherine Tai|
|OMB Director||Neera Tanden|
|Dir. of Nat. Intel.||Avril Haines|
|EPA Admin.||Michael Regan|
|Small Bus. Adm.||Isabel Guzman|
|Amb. to U.N.||Linda Thomas-Greenfield|
|NOTE: The official positions considered as cabinet-level may vary slightly from one administration to the next.|
* = not subject to Senate confirmation.
|Pres. Pro Tem||--||Patty Murray (WA)|
|Leader||Mitch McConnell (KY)||Chuck Schumer (NY)|
|Whip||John Thune (SD)||Richard Durbin (IL)|
|Seats||49||48 + 3|
|The President Pro Tem of the Senate traditionally goes to the most senior member of the majority party in the Senate, but in January 2023 Dianne Feinstein turned down the job, and Patty Murray was next in line. Three independents presently caucus with the Democrats, giving them an effective 51-49 majority.|
|U.S. House of Representatives
|Speaker||Kevin McCarthy (CA)||--|
|Leader||Steve Scalise (LA)||Hakeem Jeffries (NY)|
|Whip||Tom Emmer (MN)||Katherine Clark (MA)|
|NOTE: It took the Republicans 15 ballots and more than three days to reach agreement over the selection of a new Speaker of the House. House members of the 118th Congress were finally sworn in after midnight on January 6/7, 2023. One seat is vacant (VA-4), pending a special election.
The real leaders in each chamber are in bold face.
|Lt. Governor||Winsome Sears||GOP|
|Attorney General||Jason Miyares||GOP|
|Pres. Pro Tem||--||Louise Lucas|
|Leader||Thomas Norment||Richard Saslaw|
|Virginia House of Delegates|
|Leader||Terry Kilgore||Eileen Filler-Corn|
|The real leaders (as opposed to ceremonial) in each chamber are shown in bold face.|
* In the November 2021 elections, the Republicans won all three statewide executive offices (names in parentheses above, pending inauguration) and gained 7 net seats in the House of Delegates, going from 45-55 to 52-47; one seat became temporarily vacant in December. In the November 2017 elections, the Democrats gained 15 net seats in the House of Delegates (with one tied election being resolved in the Republicans' favor by drawing lots), going from a 66-34 to 51-49. In the November 2015 elections, the Republicans retained a 21-19 majority in the Senate, while the Democrats gained two net seats in the House of Delegates.
Government Online: Improving Service and Engaging Communities
by Constance Clem
Inside Knowledge magazine