Send in the clowns

Quote thanks to Roderick Long (2008-07-05).

Does the history of politics teach us nothing? What have we ever gained by such means? The Republican party has robbed us by taxes. It has robbed us still worse by its financial legislation, its national bank laws and its depreciated greenbacks. It has given our lands to its servants and sold our birthright to corporations. Yet this was the reform party of half a century ago. As soon as it gained power, it kicked the men — and deservedly, too — who were fools enough to support it. Nor is the record of the Democratic party — which but a few years since claimed to be the only true reform party in the country — one whit better. For two years it had full control of every branch of the Federal government, and what did it do? It violated every pledge made before gaining power. It turned its back on those it promised to help. … As soon as a new party springs up and begins to show signs of success, a lot of political tramps are immediately attracted to its ranks. These men possess a certain amount of influence. They are trained politicians, well versed in the art of packing conventions and proficient at counting the ballots. When they come to the new party with crocodile tears of repentance coursing down their cheeks, it is too weak to refuse their aid. It opens its arms and kissing away their repentant tears, places them in the front rank where glory awaits them. The result of this is a large gain in votes and sometimes success at the polls. But this victory is only gained at the expense of principle, and the last state of that party is worse than the first.

— Francis Tandy (1896), Voluntary Socialism, Chapter 13 ¶¶ 14–15

I add only that making your living through itinerant begging and scavenging is certainly not for everyone, but it is an honorable sort of life and an honest sort of living; calling political hucksters and electioneering con men a bunch of tramps is decidedly unfair to the tramps.

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2 replies to Send in the clowns Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Natasha

    And guess who’s penalizing beggars with panhandling laws? The political hucksters.

    This is truly a bizarre world we live in.

  2. Natasha

    By the way, do you know how often vagrancy laws are enforced in the U.S.? And when they got their start here. Maybe, it had something to do with classism and the eugenics movement.

    You know, wipe out the “undesirables” or forcibly remove them from public sight.

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