History’s Stylus Remains Stuck in the Same Groove

The 2016 presidential election seems the most contentious of my lifetime. The amount of cognitive dissonance and outright hypocrisy among supporters of the front runners is, well, staggering. 

My fellow Americans seem unable or unwilling to shake off the shackles of the two-party system, so other party candidates often play to matinee-sized crowds or the fringes. That’s not to say these other candidates are not flawed – though for me one is, even with his flaws, the most reasonable of the bunch…not to mention the only one my conscience will not punish me for ticking the box.

Anyway, since I’ll be away on election day, I cast my absentee ballot by mail earlier this week.

Around the same time I received an email from a friend asking my opinion on a critical survey of democracy in today’s world by George Monbiot titled “What We Are.” The essay appeared in The Guardian on October 5th.

Of course, it set me to thinking about H.G. Wells’s own After Democracy of 1932 (Watts & Co., London), so I swiveled my chair and pulled my copy from the shelf. The book happened to fall open to page 22 where I found a passage on ‘Liberalism’ that still resonates 84 years later:

In the United States Liberalism has been completely suppressed for over a hundred years. That is due to its own blundering. In its days of opportunity it devised a Constitution of incredible pedantry, and that Constitution was studied very carefully, and then jumped by two powerful gangs, the Republican and Democratic Parties, which have ever since ruled the country with much violence and disingenuousness, a close association with gangsters, and an extremely efficient suppression of radical and socially constructive ideas.