…and no one’s there, does it make a sound?
Over at dotCommonweal, Robert Imbelli had a brief post on the buzz-producing “Yes” from Scott Brown on yesterday’s jobs bill. While many analysts have spent the last little while dissecting the vote itself, Imbelli noticed a much quieter (yet much more depressing) note in the story:
Three hours before the jobs-bill vote, the Senate chamber opened with its 117-year tradition of reading Washington’s Farewell Address on his birthday. The current lawmakers evidently didn’t think much of the tradition, for they assigned the reading to Roland Burris, the senator from Blagojevich. Total number of senators at their desks for the reading: zero.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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That’s truly demoralizing, and more troubling to me than whatever the nation’s youngest senator may or may not have meant by his “Yea.” The Farewell Address, which wasn’t actually much of a farewell or much of an address when it was first delivered, certainly seems like the sort of thing that could be heard with good effect about now:
Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.