Men of Gold

     Let’s talk about politics, Plato and “Hamlet.”
     Wait! Don’t go!
     I’m a patriot!
     With Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, our nation has achieved the utopia Plato designed 2,500 years ago in his “Republic.”
     In Plato’s utopia there were three types of men:
     the Guardians, a hereditary class of men of gold;
     the soldiers, men of silver;
     and the rest of us fellows, men of base metal.
     Women were here to do our bidding.
     Woo hoo! If only …
     Occasionally, not often, a base man might be elevated, or a noble degraded.
     But don’t count on it happening too often.
     That is our situation today.
     Congressional seats have become all but hereditary.
     Research on this is fiendishly time-consuming, so I turned to the indispensable Congressional Quarterly, which last did a story on it in 2004. In that year, 17 members of the Senate were boosted into their seats by family ties to the Guardians.
     Five senators were children of senators, three were spouses of former senators, two were sons of governors; there was a son of a congressman, a nephew of two governors, a cousin of two other congressmen, and four other assorted relations.
     When it comes to the White House, 18 percent of our nation’s 44 presidents have such ties: two Adamses, two Harrisons, two Roosevelts, and two Bushes. Barring a sudden national onset of sanity – not a safe bet – that number will almost certainly jump to 22 percent next year.
     I hardly need point out that our silver-plated Pentagon gets whatever it wants, all the time, from the Men of Gold.
     The rest of us are base metal.
     This concludes our introduction.
     There will be no transition.
     Here is part two.
     In the most famous dramatic soliloquy in the history of the world, Hamlet declared that “conscience doth make cowards of us all.”
     Not any more, dude!
     Not when nearly all of our national politicians are either cowards, or have no conscience.
     Pick your party, one on either side of the comma between “cowards” and “conscience.”
     Can you guess which party is which? Sure, you can.
     Who today would dare accuse a Republican congressman of
     a) being a coward, or
     b) having a conscience?
     No one.
     Who would dare accuse a Democratic member of Congress today of
     a)           or
     b)           .
     Oh, sorry, did I leave those choices blank?
     I thought that was the Democratic platform today.
     Democrats today are cowards, wishing our nation had a conscience.
     Or that they had the guts to stand up for theirs.
     Sorry, Democrats! It’s too late for you! You should have done it all along!
     But you didn’t. So now the men of Gold and Silver are in charge.
     Bring them your pennies of base copper and see what good it will do you.
     Go back to what you’ve been doing for years: begging your pennies from the men of silver and gold.
     Or stop being cowards.
     Until you make that choice, I’ll hang onto my pennies.
     It’s true, you know: You get the government you pay for.

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