Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The American Sphinx

Frank Rich writes an extended version of the GOP as the party of nullification schtick we've heard for a while now.

The only thing is he forgets who came up with the theory of nullification in the first place: Thomas Jefferson.

We have so hallowed Jefferson in the American pantheon, we forget his role as a fairly radical political philosopher.  He was skeptical of the Constitution and actually preferred the anarchic Articles of Confederation.  His later doctrine of nullification was justified, because of the odious law it nullified, except that once you justify nullification, you don't know where it will end.

I doubt Jefferson would have approved of what Calhoun did with it, but I'm not entirely sure.  Jefferson may have found slavery morally repellent, but unlike Washington, he never freed his slaves - even after his death.  And Jefferson was nothing if not a man of the agrarian South.  Would that solidarity with Calhoun have trumped any feelings of national unity?

With Jefferson, you can never know.

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