I just finished reading Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow. This is the catalyst that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to create the Broadway hit, Hamilton.
This book is absolutely fascinating.
I had seen the musical and listened to the soundtrack (about a million times), and finally got around to reading this 808 page masterpiece. Chernow goes into every personal and professional detail of arguably THE most influential founding father of our country. His drive, work ethic, writing genius, and oratory mastery framed the constitution, our financial systems, and made it possible for us to enjoy the freedoms we do in this county.
The biggest takeaway (other than Hamilton being one of my new heroes and making it onto my table of historical figures with whom I’d like to have dinner) was how dirty politics were at the founding of our country.
When political power is up for grabs, humans resort to the lowest of low by lying, cheating, and name-calling.
Ken Burns said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but human nature remains the same.”
Here is a small set of slandering comments made about various founding fathers made in the press. A handful were true, but the vast majority were blatant lies.
Hamilton’s puppet, a coward on the battlefield, a British agent, a power-hungry monarch intent on ensuring the presidency was passed on through his family line, and incompetent both in war and government.
Accusations against Hamilton were many and I won’t list them all, but see if they sound familiar given our current political environment.
Impure blood, an illegitimate bastard, financial fraud, misappropriated federal funds, racketeering, bribes from other countries, spying for the British government, working to establish a monarchy, rape, incest, and countless extramarital affairs (one was confirmed to be true, many accusations were made).
Rape, incest with his daughter, hiring prostitutes, blackmailing women into prostitution, breaking up marriages by sleeping with women based on political position, abuse, and murder.
Spying for the French, adultery, rape (both of white women and slaves), abuse, desertion.
Again, some of these accusations were true (mostly the extramarital affairs). Most were not.
Several founding fathers either created newspapers with the sole purpose to slander opponents, hired writers at other papers to make up false accusations, wrote these horrible accusations themselves under pseudonyms, or did all three (Thomas Jefferson).
When we look at the political circus of our country over the past 250 years, when political power is up for grabs, human nature doesn’t change. Both sides revert to mudslinging of the worst kind, and we have to ask ourselves, “are we just puppets?”
What’s crazy to think about is that we have heard almost every single one of these accusations against the past 4 presidential candidates (Obama, Trump, Clinton, Biden).
Why do we let ourselves fall for it?
When will we see that we’re all being played by a system of political and media control that wouldn’t have a job if they didn’t incite hatred, disgust, violence, and scandal?
Maybe we don’t realize that it’s all a big game. Maybe we don’t believe we’re being manipulated in efforts to tear us apart, outrage us against other human beings, and shovel money toward media companies and political causes.
Maybe we are so determined to be ‘right’ that we’re looking for others to slip up, fail, and embarrass themselves so we can feel better about our own lives. Even if we’re wrong, we feel better about ourselves if those with whom we disagree politically do something wrong… and we find joy in it.
That is dangerous.
We are no better than uninformed colonial Americans reading the gazette.
In fact, we’re worse.
It’s gotten so outrageous that we believe, ‘like’, and share blatantly photoshopped images of our political foes in compromising positions. We believe Facebook and Instagram memes to be truth because we read words with which we agree in a nice font, set on a thought-provoking background.
Fake screenshots, misattributed quotes, and phony websites are true if they post what we agree with, but totally false if it’s something with which we disagree.
It’s easy to look back at history and think, “Man, they were so gullible!”
WE are the gullible ones.
I’m sorry, but your sources are no more credible than ‘their’ sources. All major media outlets have been caught falsifying stories, spreading propaganda, and faking coverage. We can easily recognize Communist propaganda (now Russian propaganda… funny how it’s always their fault), but we can’t recognize the propaganda being peddled in our country.
What do you think the Russians are saying about our media?
This started as a recommendation for you to read (or listen to) the book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.
It still is.
I loved it. Hamilton was a genius who did some stupid things. He was a loving husband who cheated on his wife. He was a loving father who went long periods without seeing his children. He was a loyal friend who quarreled and ended friendships. He was an imperfect man who made several missteps, miscalculations, and serious mistakes while trying his best to make his home, family, community, and country better.
Sounds like just about every person I’ve ever met.
We can choose to focus on the good people are trying to accomplish, or we can focus on their mistakes.
I genuinely believe that people on the Right and on the Left want to be safe. They want to feel protected. They want their families to be safe and their children to have opportunities in life that they themselves never had. They want to find more financial freedom. They want to enjoy luxuries in life. They want meaningful relationships with others.
We are more similar than different. And just because I have a different idea of how to get these things doesn’t mean we’re right or wrong, righteous or evil (we’ll write a post on that later).
We may disagree on things, but I’m working on trying to understand both sides of an issue rather than searching for fault on one side with a microscope while burying my head in the sand when something uncouth pops up on my side.
We can’t control how our beliefs are portrayed in the media. We can’t control what others believe, say, or do.
But be kind, both to people you know, and the people you don’t.
They could be going through the unimaginable, so give them the same lenience you would expect from others towards yourself.
You can control that.