Way back in the previous century my old man would say to me, “You know, Son, it’s not what you know it’s who you know that counts,” and I’d answer, “Thank you, Dad, that’s a very good thing to know.” He also said repeatedly, another axiom he lived by and conveyed repeatedly, several times a year, actually, “You know, Son, it doesn’t matter how much you know, it’s all useless unless you have that sheepskin,” and I’d answer, “Dad, I do know diplomas are printed on paper.” And the whole time I’m thinking, “Dad, if you’re so smart then prove it by applying that to earning your — parchment."
And that seemed like good idea for myself. If I think I’m so smart, then maybe I had just prove it at least to myself by taking college level exams. So I did. One after another until a full year’s worth of college was credited by simply taking college level exams.
They’re fun. And presently only $80.00. Compare that cost to the cost of university.
Recommended. For fun.
Give it a go. CLEP verisimilitude.
One of the exams was American history. The subject divided into two part. This exam counted for double course credit. It counted for two American history courses. A nice chunk. The text recommended at CU Denver campus is conveniently divided US history in half very close to the exams, pre and post Civil War. I read the college text book in a few days by way of review and I hasten to add it really is fascinating taking it in all at once like that and seeing again all the significant episodes put in their place in time so that the whole American experience runs like a river, its banks shifting in accommodation to its apparent ineluctable flow.
After all that bragging, after all that reassuring myself, after all that review and actual testing, and after all the intervening time, I still did not know 1/100 about the Whig party as this single Wikipedia page presents. Despite its source of received wisdom of consent it is a very good and informative page.
I had hoped to to use the Wikipedia page on the Whig party to develop a template to apply to modern day Republican party to show history repeating, and trying to stay honest with myself at least, failed at that effort. There are several striking similarities between the two parties as I imagined, while at the same time the Whig party template can be accurately applied to present day Democrat party as well.
So, the template idea is blown. The history is too much a mishmash for a Whig template to be useful for either, or rather, equally useful for both.
Instead, a different conceptualization formed as I studied, in understanding the failure of the Whigs and the failure of Republicans contrasting with the wildly successful and enduring popularity of the Democrat party.
Before the effort I regarded Democrats the party of worked up crackpots hell-bent on using government for their crackpot concerns as they shift in real time, the party their catch basin no matter the issues as they evolve and mutate across time. It’s why they’re impossible to engage and agree with for long, their heartfelt opinions shift at the drop of a dime and I cannot keep up with continually shifting my own worked out opinions to keep in agreement while the ground continually shifts underfoot. I’m not that flexible. Not when it comes to laws for everyone and not when it comes government domination by point of gun. While the Republican party fails to represent even slightly the vast landscape of conservative voters out there left stranded with nothing, in favor of representing themselves and their own conceits. In this sense modern Republicans really do match the efforts of Clay and his Whigs.
Over time, though, both parties Republican now, and Democrat still, together have carved out their own separate class from the bulk of well informed voters out there that suffer unrepresented while the representatives they send thrive in a separated carved out class. And over time, so pervasive is this carving out and placement that by successfully if only barely keeping disparate groups united and by permeating government at all levels, permeating entertainment industry, saturating media, and filling universities and factually achieving this grand Gramsci cultural institution capture a single massive party has formed and ossified and experiences faint resistance. To affect any real change it all must be challenged at once. And that does appear to be happening but only in patches. Government is challenged, media is deemed too biased to be of much use, alternatives to university education are being developed, and the entire entertainment industry has stagnated to remakes of remakes by barely adjusted new presentations that are hardly fresh and always disappointing so that alternatives inevitably become more attractive .
By reading this Wikipedia page on the Whigs and reviewing their history again, having their story retold this one paragraph sticks out and I wonder how it managed to pass Wikipedia consensus.
[Historian Frank Towers has specified a deep ideological divide:
Democrats stood for the 'sovereignty of the people as expressed in popular demonstrations, constitutional conventions, and majority rule as a general principle of governing, whereas Whigs advocated the rule of law, written and unchanging constitutions, and protections for minority interests against majority tyranny.]
Worked up political crackpots back then as now. It amazes me, this insight is deeply negatively impressive, now bringing all this closer to home, I look at the people I know, genuine political crackpots with political art on their walls. They actually decorate their homes with homages to their beloved party, its struggles and its conventions. Their party of the people. Framed and mounted, matted, with loving treatment, their advertisements of themselves, photographs of JFK and the White House, (!) framed Civil Rights legislation, ribbons, and placards, and political buttons, hundreds of political buttons arranged to show party loyalty, as art. The art of their lives. To a person all are sensible people outside of politics, to a person all conservative by their life choices, in their way of life. All their important decisions are conservative decisions, any area examined their decisions are all conservative, their homes, their clothing, their diets, their automobiles, their contributions, their manner of speaking, especially their money management, their investment, their travel, all their life choices are conservative, their professions, their educations, but in the area of politics to a person they’re all bat shit crazy. These people would be supremely well pleased with one ruling party and it doesn’t matter what that party does, all evil is excused as understandable error for the advancement and good of the party while nothing is excused or overlooked in their opposition. All is highest and inexcusable criminal effrontery in that opposition party, no matter how sensible, that is excused and handily dismissed in their own.
I realized by reading on Whigs that the people I know would be members of Communist party were this the Soviet Union, but it’s not, were this China, but it’s not. They would be cheerful party members were this country communist, but it is not. In this sense they are alike in fundamental political orientation. That newer foreign template fits better for comprehending political discord today by way of looking back at the Whigs.