Tuesday, August 16, 2016

It seems little has changed in 132 years

by Mouser The King Cat

The quote “History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes” is usually attributed to Mark Twain. Whether he actually wrote or said it is up for debate; no matter, most reasonable people accept the notion. Which brings us to the presidential election of 1884, as told by Wesley Pruden, editor-in-chief emeritus of The Washington Times:

Politics were particularly rowdy in the decades after the War of Northern Aggression, and rarely rowdier than in the year 1884, with Gov. Grover Cleveland of New York, the Democrat, suiting up against James G. Blaine of Maine, the Republican. The Democrats rehashed old allegations of bribes, graft and grease suborned by Blaine, the man in the pocket of railroad barons, the Wall Street villains of his day. Like a presidential candidate we could name, Blaine didn’t brook allegations of sordid behavior but haughtily dismissed them as "stale slander." This gave Democrats the famous rallying cry, “Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, the continental liar from the state of Maine.” Not quite as to the point as “lock her up!” But it stirred the masses.

The Democratic base liked to cite evidence (in the form of letters that ended “burn this letter”) that Blaine peddled influence when he was speaker of the House. On the other side, Cleveland was nicknamed “Grover the Good,” having graduated from mayor of Buffalo to governor by cleaning out corrupt politicians. Back to Mr. Pruden:

As was the custom, newspapers took sides. Later came the era of “objectivity,” which morphed into subtle liberal bias and now rages as outright partisanship, mostly against Donald Trump and for Hillary Clinton. Mr. Pruden notes:

It must be noted that some of the bias runs the other way; several hosts of highly rated Fox News shows are blatantly pro-Trump. But remember this: Trust in media outlets is at an all-time low, perhaps because so-called gatherers of news are in the same space they were 132 years ago. Many individuals, perhaps even entire cable networks, eventually will be swept out with the tide.

The Cleveland-Blaine election was close, with Cleveland winning his home state’s decisive 36 electors by only 1,047 votes out of 1.17 million cast. Could we be headed for another rhyme on Nov. 8?

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