Senator Reid Wants to Talk about History

On the evening when 60 Senators who caucus with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) voted to move forward with debate on the 2,074-page "health care" bill, Senator Reid pointed to this as a historical moment:

What happened just now has never happened in the long history of the United States Senate.

Through congressional town hall meetings, tea parties, and other rallies, Americans have made clear that they oppose this particular health care plan. They do want reform -- such as portability and tort reform -- but not what was in the original 1,000+-page House bill (HR 3200) or what is now in the new 2,000+-page bills in both chambers. Most Congressional Democrats have neglected to listen to their constituents, who have made their opposition known. What is Obama's response? The man currently occupying the White House reportedly referred to the people he is supposed to serve as "teabag, anti-government people" and "extremists."

As Reid brought up history, I am reminded of a previous era in history when a president wanted to grow government. In his inaugural address, President John Quincy Adams (the sixth president and son of President John Adams) spoke about the debate as to whether internal improvements by the federal government were allowed by the Constitution. He said:

I cannot but hope that ... all constitutional objections will ultimately be removed. The extent and limitation of the powers of the general government, in relation to this transcendently important interest, will be settled and acknowledged, to the common satisfaction of all; and every speculative scruple will be solved by a practical public blessing.

Adams' first Annual Message (what we now call the State of the Union) made a statement similar to the attitudes of today, just without the childish name calling:

... were we to slumber in indolence, or fold up our arms, and proclaim to the world that we were palsied by the will of our constituents ...

The two terms of Adams' immediate predecessor, President James Monroe, were known as the "Era of Good Feelings." The big-government Federalist Party had lost power, leaving the Republican Party (not to be confused with the current Republican Party) as basically the only national party. Adams mistakenly assumed the era of partisanship was truly over and noted in his inaugural address that the "baneful weed of partisan strife" had been "uprooted."

After Obama defeated McCain in 2008, and in the months leading up to his entering the White House, the legacy media (including taxpayer-funded media) was abuzz with news about a post-partisan era. Yet in early January, the Democrat House planned to limit Republican input, and they certainly did so on major legislation like the "stimulus." We can certainly see where "post-partisanship" has gone when Speaker of the House Pelosi refers to people who disagree with the direction of our country as "astroturf" and when Obama directs the aforementioned insults at them.

Unlike Obama in 2008, Adams did not win a majority of the popular or electoral vote in 1824. None of the four presidential candidates in 1824 won a majority, causing the House of Representatives to determine who would be the sixth president. Henry Clay was Speaker of the House at that time, and he wielded considerable influence. There was a controversy over Adams' appointment of Henry Clay as Secretary of State, which was referred to as a "corrupt bargain" for partisan purposes. Historical accounts say there was no corruption. Even Martin Van Buren (who opposed Adams' ideology and would later serve as the 8th president) cleared Adams of the charge (Parsons, The Birth of Modern Politics, 2009, p. 110). 

Regardless of the controversies surrounding Adams' entry into the White House, those issues alone did not sink his chances of serving a second term. Adams was seen as an elitist who could not identify with the common man (Parsons 167). As Adams continued to pursue his agenda for internal improvements by the federal government, along with various other political mistakes, the old Republican Party broke into factions of support or opposition to the administration (Parsons 120).

Andrew Jackson, as a hero in the War of 1812 and a presidential candidate in the previous election, was a popular figure. As concern increased over the usurpation of states' rights by the federal government, the beginnings of new parties formed. Martin Van Buren, then a senator from New York and leader of a faction that supported strict adherence to the Constitution, would not throw in his lot with Jackson until he could be sure that Jackson would support his party's principles. When Van Buren had that assurance, he focused on uniting his faction behind Jackson for 1828 (Parsons 126-7).

Andrew Jackson worked his way up from virtually nothing. He was not educated at the best schools. He did not even go to college. While he had considerable wealth by the time he reached the presidency, he came from humble beginnings. He was seen by many as a common man. At the time, Tennessee, his home state, was considered the frontier. A coalition formed around him which later became known as the Democrat Party (Remini, The Election of Andrew Jackson, 1963, p. 52). (Yes, they actually attempted to be strict constructionists in their early history.)  

President John Quincy Adams was a true scholar. Despite having an illustrious pre-presidential career filled with experience -- as an ambassador to multiple countries, a U.S. senator, Secretary of State, etc. -- Adams was a one-term president. He was crushed by Andrew Jackson in their 1828 rematch. Adams would later go on to have an impressive career fighting slavery in the U.S. House of Representatives. His presidency was merely a low point in an otherwise distinguished professional life.

What do we have now?  We have Obama, a man who is increasingly out of touch with the American people as he flies all over the world, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars per flight, while Americans continue to lose their jobs. He bows to foreign leaders and apologizes for the United States at every opportunity. His administration has given "stimulus" money to phantom congressional districts like Oklahoma's 00th, Alaska's 99th, and Maine's 92nd, to name just a few. He came into the White House with very limited and lackluster experience in the U.S. Senate. He is presented as an intellectual, though we are not allowed to see his college grades. In fact, the few details released from his college years consist of photographs like this. When he does not read from a teleprompter, he has been known to make offensive gaffes. He tells our brave servicemen and women that they "make a pretty good photo op."

Then we have a woman named Sarah Palin who was on the 2008 ticket in every state, though not for the presidency. She continues to generate interest. She comes from a state that has issued license plates sporting the words "The last frontier." She did not go to elite schools. She was not born into wealth, though she has recently acquired wealth. She is able to make speeches without a teleprompter. In her farewell speech as governor of Alaska, she warned against "enslavement to big central government that crushes hope and opportunity." These are words which could have just as easily come from the pen of Thomas Jefferson.

While there are vast differences between Adams and Obama, as well as between Jackson and Palin, there are historical similarities between the circumstances surrounding the Adams administration and the Obama administration. We have people who never took an interest in politics before becoming interested; two administrations that embrace the idea of growing the federal government beyond its Constitutional limits; and a party calling itself the "Republican" Party that lost its way and embraced big government. In Adams' day, as in ours, a faction of that party began to develop which embraced strict adherence to the Constitution. It took a couple of years for the earlier faction to coalesce around Andrew Jackson. We shall see what happens in our future.

But one thing is definitely clear. Senator Reid talked about history, and he should know that history repeats itself. Human nature does not change. History has shown what happens when an incompetent, out-of-touch, elitist administration tries to push big government too hard and too fast in the United States...particularly when there is someone else from the previous election who captures the people's imagination.
On the evening when 60 Senators who caucus with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) voted to move forward with debate on the 2,074-page "health care" bill, Senator Reid pointed to this as a historical moment:

What happened just now has never happened in the long history of the United States Senate.

Through congressional town hall meetings, tea parties, and other rallies, Americans have made clear that they oppose this particular health care plan. They do want reform -- such as portability and tort reform -- but not what was in the original 1,000+-page House bill (HR 3200) or what is now in the new 2,000+-page bills in both chambers. Most Congressional Democrats have neglected to listen to their constituents, who have made their opposition known. What is Obama's response? The man currently occupying the White House reportedly referred to the people he is supposed to serve as "teabag, anti-government people" and "extremists."

As Reid brought up history, I am reminded of a previous era in history when a president wanted to grow government. In his inaugural address, President John Quincy Adams (the sixth president and son of President John Adams) spoke about the debate as to whether internal improvements by the federal government were allowed by the Constitution. He said:

I cannot but hope that ... all constitutional objections will ultimately be removed. The extent and limitation of the powers of the general government, in relation to this transcendently important interest, will be settled and acknowledged, to the common satisfaction of all; and every speculative scruple will be solved by a practical public blessing.

Adams' first Annual Message (what we now call the State of the Union) made a statement similar to the attitudes of today, just without the childish name calling:

... were we to slumber in indolence, or fold up our arms, and proclaim to the world that we were palsied by the will of our constituents ...

The two terms of Adams' immediate predecessor, President James Monroe, were known as the "Era of Good Feelings." The big-government Federalist Party had lost power, leaving the Republican Party (not to be confused with the current Republican Party) as basically the only national party. Adams mistakenly assumed the era of partisanship was truly over and noted in his inaugural address that the "baneful weed of partisan strife" had been "uprooted."

After Obama defeated McCain in 2008, and in the months leading up to his entering the White House, the legacy media (including taxpayer-funded media) was abuzz with news about a post-partisan era. Yet in early January, the Democrat House planned to limit Republican input, and they certainly did so on major legislation like the "stimulus." We can certainly see where "post-partisanship" has gone when Speaker of the House Pelosi refers to people who disagree with the direction of our country as "astroturf" and when Obama directs the aforementioned insults at them.

Unlike Obama in 2008, Adams did not win a majority of the popular or electoral vote in 1824. None of the four presidential candidates in 1824 won a majority, causing the House of Representatives to determine who would be the sixth president. Henry Clay was Speaker of the House at that time, and he wielded considerable influence. There was a controversy over Adams' appointment of Henry Clay as Secretary of State, which was referred to as a "corrupt bargain" for partisan purposes. Historical accounts say there was no corruption. Even Martin Van Buren (who opposed Adams' ideology and would later serve as the 8th president) cleared Adams of the charge (Parsons, The Birth of Modern Politics, 2009, p. 110). 

Regardless of the controversies surrounding Adams' entry into the White House, those issues alone did not sink his chances of serving a second term. Adams was seen as an elitist who could not identify with the common man (Parsons 167). As Adams continued to pursue his agenda for internal improvements by the federal government, along with various other political mistakes, the old Republican Party broke into factions of support or opposition to the administration (Parsons 120).

Andrew Jackson, as a hero in the War of 1812 and a presidential candidate in the previous election, was a popular figure. As concern increased over the usurpation of states' rights by the federal government, the beginnings of new parties formed. Martin Van Buren, then a senator from New York and leader of a faction that supported strict adherence to the Constitution, would not throw in his lot with Jackson until he could be sure that Jackson would support his party's principles. When Van Buren had that assurance, he focused on uniting his faction behind Jackson for 1828 (Parsons 126-7).

Andrew Jackson worked his way up from virtually nothing. He was not educated at the best schools. He did not even go to college. While he had considerable wealth by the time he reached the presidency, he came from humble beginnings. He was seen by many as a common man. At the time, Tennessee, his home state, was considered the frontier. A coalition formed around him which later became known as the Democrat Party (Remini, The Election of Andrew Jackson, 1963, p. 52). (Yes, they actually attempted to be strict constructionists in their early history.)  

President John Quincy Adams was a true scholar. Despite having an illustrious pre-presidential career filled with experience -- as an ambassador to multiple countries, a U.S. senator, Secretary of State, etc. -- Adams was a one-term president. He was crushed by Andrew Jackson in their 1828 rematch. Adams would later go on to have an impressive career fighting slavery in the U.S. House of Representatives. His presidency was merely a low point in an otherwise distinguished professional life.

What do we have now?  We have Obama, a man who is increasingly out of touch with the American people as he flies all over the world, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars per flight, while Americans continue to lose their jobs. He bows to foreign leaders and apologizes for the United States at every opportunity. His administration has given "stimulus" money to phantom congressional districts like Oklahoma's 00th, Alaska's 99th, and Maine's 92nd, to name just a few. He came into the White House with very limited and lackluster experience in the U.S. Senate. He is presented as an intellectual, though we are not allowed to see his college grades. In fact, the few details released from his college years consist of photographs like this. When he does not read from a teleprompter, he has been known to make offensive gaffes. He tells our brave servicemen and women that they "make a pretty good photo op."

Then we have a woman named Sarah Palin who was on the 2008 ticket in every state, though not for the presidency. She continues to generate interest. She comes from a state that has issued license plates sporting the words "The last frontier." She did not go to elite schools. She was not born into wealth, though she has recently acquired wealth. She is able to make speeches without a teleprompter. In her farewell speech as governor of Alaska, she warned against "enslavement to big central government that crushes hope and opportunity." These are words which could have just as easily come from the pen of Thomas Jefferson.

While there are vast differences between Adams and Obama, as well as between Jackson and Palin, there are historical similarities between the circumstances surrounding the Adams administration and the Obama administration. We have people who never took an interest in politics before becoming interested; two administrations that embrace the idea of growing the federal government beyond its Constitutional limits; and a party calling itself the "Republican" Party that lost its way and embraced big government. In Adams' day, as in ours, a faction of that party began to develop which embraced strict adherence to the Constitution. It took a couple of years for the earlier faction to coalesce around Andrew Jackson. We shall see what happens in our future.

But one thing is definitely clear. Senator Reid talked about history, and he should know that history repeats itself. Human nature does not change. History has shown what happens when an incompetent, out-of-touch, elitist administration tries to push big government too hard and too fast in the United States...particularly when there is someone else from the previous election who captures the people's imagination.