It's hardly been three days and already I'm depressed and worried.
First there was the "american carnage" speech. One that O.O. didn't actually write despite a tweet to the contrary.
Then the blatant lies about crowd sizes. Talking Points Memo had this good graphic summary:
Now we live in a world where "alternative facts" are to be believed more than real facts. George Orwell would be proud. His book should be re-published under the new title: "2017".
Then there is the odious "America First" policy that will seriously hurt Canada's economy. (It will also seriously affect the economies of many border states but, sorry, they'll deserve that.)
I'm a bit of a news junkie but I don't know how I will survive four years of this without switching off the web or retreating to a monastery.
* * *
Over the weekend, I read a sort of cri de couer by an American in which he wrote:
"We were founded by slave-owning, land-owning, white men who wanted lower taxes, and little has changed in 228 years."
I also saw a quote from John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the USA:
"Those who own the country ought to govern it."
It seems to me that the recent history of elections in the USA has merely re-confirmed the truth of Jay's maxim. Jay was born into a wealthy family of merchants and government officials. He did (eventually) oppose slavery. So there is that.
* * *
Within the past two years I have read two terrific books that deal with the history of the USA. Both were written by historian Alan Taylor. One (American Colonies: The Settling of North America) dealt with the founding of the individual colonies that united to form the USA. Two things struck me from reading that book. First, the character of today's States was set when they were founded (who founded them, and for what purpose. The history of the Carolinas was quite revealing.). Each State is very very different as a result. In addition, the successful States were the southern states where agriculture was possible. Plymouth may be a hallowed name, but Massachusetts was a most infertile place. Second, the settlers were morbidly afraid of the Native Americans.
The second book was "William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic". It describes William Cooper's purchase of land in a fore-closure type of sale. He used the land to found Cooperstown, New York. He ran the town - initially at least - much as a medieval lord with tenants indebted to his generosity. It is hard to read this book and not come away with the impression that the American Revolution was not a great exercise in democracy. Rather, it liberated the land owners and those who could become land owners to rule instead. I agree with the American whose cri de couer I cited above.
A number of Cooper's new tenants were exiles from Massachusetts. They had migrated (or fled, I don't recall) in the wake of Shay's rebellion. I had not heard of Shay's rebellion before and I do wonder how well known it is to modern day Americans. The rebellion took place in 1786 and 1787 - barely three years after the end of the Revolutionary Wars. The idea that there was a rebellion against the winners shocked me. And this was no uprising of disgruntled Tories. This was a rebellion of economically disadvantaged hill farmers in Western Massachusetts against the wealthy merchants of Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Plus ça change!