Monday, April 18, 2005

“I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress!”

The Movie: 1776, 1972 (Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone, screenwriters, from their play; Peter H. Hunt, dir.)
Who says it: William Daniels as Massachusetts Congressional delegate John Adams
The context: Adams has not been able to convince his colleagues to vote on independence from England.
How to use it: When reading the morning paper.

Happy Patriot's Day, a state holiday celebrated only in Massachusetts and Maine; the rest of the country is only dimly aware of it as the day of the Boston Marathon. The holiday (not the marathon) commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which actually happened on April 19, and officially started the American Revolution.

It depresses me to think about how the political culture has transformed, in just over 200 years, from Thomas Jefferson and John Adams debating the rights of man to Tom DeLay and Barney Frank squabbling over lawmakers' rights to accept expensive trips from lobbyists.

To be fair, the nation's founders were mostly landowners, and many were independently wealthy; they never envisioned such a thing as a political "career," and would probably have regarded it with suspicion. But they could never have envisioned a country of 276 million people, either.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

New York abstains. Courteously.