Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2012 Presidential Election and American History

The upcoming 2012 election could be a turning point in the future direction of the United States. With the current Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements occurring,  most would assume the nation is about to become a battle ground of the "haves versus the have-nots".

This conflict between the wealthy and powerful versus the little guy has been an ongoing struggle since  the very early days of human history.  One has to remember that our own United States history  is but a speck in the total anals of human history with regards to this struggle.
And though I am most certainly not a successful historian as Newt Gingrich and will not be paid 1.6 million dollars for my historical observations,  I do know that by studying our own country's history, one can take a deep breath and realize today's  current conflict  has been going  on since this country was formed.

The ability to reflect on the historical past and put it into today's context is  probably one good benefit for those of you who may have struggled through American history classes either in high school or college.  Studying history can teach us about our mistakes which hopefully we do not repeat. 

Today the Jon Stewarts and Jay Lenos  can lend a certain amount of levity and satire to relieve our current anger with the current crop of elected politicians running our country.   With Fox News and MSNBC we are given many different observations about the state of our country.   In fact,  we are bombarded and that can indeed be distressing and cause one to think the country will most definitely fail.

But before the mass media exploded with television and social networking, people actually read newspapers and magazines.  And for those who liked a more satirical view of the state of the world,  political cartoons were  a great way to express national concerns and frustrations.

What was considered the first political cartoon appeared in the May 9, 1754, issue of Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette.  This cartoon served as a satirical look that the 13 British colonies would be more effective united against French expansion into North America versus the bickering as individual colonies.

America's First Politcal Cartoon

When I was in college, I remember the  many politcal cartoons which visually summed up the corruption of the late 1800s and early 1900s. 

My favorite political cartoon was  Joseph Kepler's Bosses of the Senate which could be a commentary on today's politics.

Most recently, President Obama invoked the trust busting Theodore Roosevelt who like himself attempted  to take on the big corporations.  At least for now, Roosevelt was successful and political cartoons at the time supported Teddy's endeavor.

Most of us remember the stories of New York City's Boss Tweed and the corruption of Tamany Hall. 

Tamany Hall was the New York City Democratic political machine which dominated the city's politics from 1854 to 1932.   

One of  the most memorable carton at the time was Thomas Nast's Cartoon which appeared in Harper's Weekly depicting politicians pointing their fingers at each other with regards to the graft and corruption at the time within the city.

So by reviewing history and the political cartoons of yester year, one can  pause, take a few deep breaths and hopefully recognize that historically the political shenanigans of today have been a  long unfortunate part of Amercian history.  

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