Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic by Joanne Freeman (2002), the author was an excellent speaker on the binge watching of C-SPAN3 covering American History. A good follow on with my initial reading on the development of political parties.
Again, I read a bunch but did not write at the time so will have to check out from library again to be able to share the best parts and write my commentary.
Attack of the Theocrats: How the religious right harms us all and what we can do about it; a toolkit for building a secular America by Sean Faircloth. “We’re one nation under the CONSTITUTION” (2012)
Foreword by Richard Dawkins. This is a slim volume and a pretty fast read. He makes many astute comments on the sad situation we have in America with the bat-shit crazy theocrats, dominism, evangelicals, and other commercial ventures (aka scams, frauds, hucksters) like “seed” churches (give us your money and you will get money [not] and prosperity gospel megachurches that delude credulous and desperate people that if only they believe (and pay) the minister, they will be (a) saved and have a nice life in Heaven [rather than none at all or burning hellfire], (b) they are doing “good” somehow for others [the church owners], (c) their suffering will be mitigated by a “higher force” [never going to happen, better to live the life you have free of the fear of hell or hope that heaven will be better, and actively work to HELP YOURSELF to changed the existing world to be more like imaginary heaven than the living hell it is now].
This is a terrific book. I have to return it to the library so will have to come back another time to add some quotes of the best bits. But I highly recommend it as very entertaining and informing reading. The minds and education and quality of our Founding Fathers make me weep is shame for the politicians we suffer from today. They are mostly would be tyrants just as Abigail predicted for husbands which is also true for women’s rights today still. And getting worse, people like Ted Cruz want to remove the Constitutional government these brilliant men formulated and put his god on top with himself as the interpreter of “god’s will” which can be summed up as god wants the rich to be rich, the poor to remain poor, and women to bear children every year until they die to provide cheap labor and cannon fodder for the wealthy few and their corporations.
In the preface, the author describes how the Constitution, once revered as a uniting force, has now become divisive along ideological lines. “People see in our governing document only what they wish to see. It is not a unifying force, as its authors had intended, but a wedge that widens the partisan divide.” A little bit later he makes the point that history cannot “be understood by treating the past as if it were the present. Much has happened since the founders’ time: national expansion on a shrinking planet, nuclear and biological warfare, Internet and broadcast technologies, and so on — more than two centuries of subsequent history. He gives a rather amusing anecdote to illustrate the changes.
Compare then and now. On October 15, 1789, President Washington set out from New York with only two aides and six servants to tour New England. In his diary, he chronicled the first day of the journey:
‘The road for the greater part, indeed the whole way, was very rough and stoney [sic], but the land strong, well covered with grass and a luxuriant crop of Indian corn intermixed with popions [pumpkins] which were ungathered in the fields. We met four droves of beef cattle for the New York market (about 30 in a drove) some of which were very fine — also a flock of sheep for the same place. We scarcely passes a farm house that did not abd. in geese.’
Washington was traveling through what is now THE BRONX, traversed by interstate highways and expressways, not stony roads, and home to some 1.4 million people packed tightly within apartments. If the country Washington observed was very different back then, so too was the manner in which he observed it, close up and literally on the ground, experiencing every stone in the road. He could meet his constituency directly, without intervention from an advance team, a press corps , or a small army of secret service agents. (p. xi, emphasis mine as anyone who has ever been to the Bronx will agree)
This link is to the 2000 edition, the one I am reading is 1992 but not as dated as one might think given that it begins at the beginning of America’s founding and all the information up to then and is extremely detailed and analyzed and described very well.
This book answers the many questions I have had over the years of how we ended up with an essentially two-party system that is run like two warring corporations for a monopoly of the United States government as the prize.
I knew that the Founding Fathers had not begun nor wanted political parties, but apparently not “until they began running parties themselves.” Thomas Jefferson was pro-party. Alexander Hamilton “associated parties with ‘ambition, avarice, personal animosity.'” I’m going to side with Hamilton on this point. James Madison “wrote in Federalist Number Ten of ‘the mischiefs of faction. John Adams expressed ‘dread’ toward ‘division of the republic into to great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other.'” Now that was prescient!