Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Truman, Morris & Obama—Being Of And Above The People

I’ve long had identification with Harry Truman. Mr. Truman was our last President who did not attend college. He had a personal library of many books. While I did go to college, I’m not, strictly speaking, a white collar worker. And I have many books.

I see Mr. Truman as a man who did the best he could with the knowledge he had. And, also, as a good representative of what average folks can accomplish. He was self-made to a degree, but did not have a chip on his shoulder when it came to helping others. 

In contrast to President Truman, Gouverneur Morris, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and a Senator from New York, was not a champion of the average person.    

Mr. Morris believed in an aristocracy. I don’t. He also had doubts about the ability of average people to govern themselves. That I can understand.

I’d take Mr. Truman over Mr. Morris any day, but I can see where Mr. Morris was coming from.

Where does this mix leave me with Barack Obama?

I’d say he is the right combination of common origins and elitism to be an effective leader.

Mostly of the people and a little bit above the people at the same time. 

This is at least what I am hoping. 

June 20, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Facebook & Martin Van Buren Demand I Endorse Kevin Murphy For The Texas House

On my Facebook account a few days ago I got an invitation to be a friend from Kevin Murphy.

I don’t know any Kevin Murphy.

I investigated the matter. I established that Mr. Murphy is running as a Democrat for the Texas State House of Representatives from the Pearland area. This is House District 29.

Good enough— While I have no idea who he is running against, Mr. Murphy has my strong support.

For one thing, I’ll endorse and support any Democrat running for office who makes me a friend on Facebook. Doing so helps serve my need for attention.

For another thing, I’m a strong believer in partisanship. I don’t need to know what Republican is running against Mr. Murphy.

I’ve read about the founding of our party system in Richard Hofstadter’s The Idea of a Party System—The Rise of Legitimate Opposition in the United States, 1780-1840.  

I agree with what Martin Van Buren says as quoted in Hofstadter’s book—

“…political parties are inseparable from free governments…the disposition to abuse power, so deeply ingrained in the human heart, can be by no other means be more effectually checked.”

(Please click here for an essay on Mr. Van Buren’s role as a party builder in American history. There is also much more information on Mr. Van Buren to be found at that link.  The above cartoon suggest that Mr. Van Buren could not get anywhere without the help of Andrew Jackson. Such a charge is simply not the case. President Jackson had the good sense to often listen to Mr. Van Buren for advice and Mr. Van Buren was as skilled a politician as they come. )

Not only do parties help check the tendency towards an accumulation of power based on personality, they also provide a shorthand for voters to figure out where candidates stand on the overwhelming number of issues we face in the modern day.  

In the Texas House of Representatives, the absence of a party line vote for House Speaker makes that office a focus of backroom intrigue and sneaky double dealing. Democracy calls for the Speaker’s office to be awarded based only on what party wins control of the chamber on Election Day. 

There are, of course, limits to partisanship at the ballot box. A party that is certain it has your vote may be motivated to serve interests other than those of voters.

Voters have the option to not vote at all for a specific position on the ballot if they find the Democrat intolerable. Or they can vote for a Green or other minor party candidate. I personally never vote for any Republican because I feel to elect one Republican assists all Republicans. 

Also, voters should recall that with time the parties can switch ideological places. It’s possible that today’s Democrat would have voted for the more progressive Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, over the more conservative Democrat Alton Parker in 1904. In the end it is ideas that motivate the partisan.

This is especially so now that we don’t have party machines handing our free turkeys at Thanksgiving or able to give your brother-in-law a job with the sanitation department.

The bottom line?

Vote for Murphy!

June 20, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, History, Houston, Political History, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments