Politics Doesn't Have to Be This Way
That respect that people had for each other's office, Chris Matthews says, is completely missing today. It doesn't have to be that way.
The political cartoon above depicts an incident in 1856 in which the South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks nearly killed the Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner with a cane a few days after Sumner delivered a fiery anti-slavery speech.
After this incident, Senators were accustomed to carrying canes and revolvers with them at the Capitol in order to protect themselves.
We have since abolished slavery, but you wouldn't know it if you listened to some of the crazy charges and overheated rhetoric coming out of Washington these days. Some conservatives have compared Obamacare to slavery. Some liberals have compared Republicans to Civil War Confederates.
It hasn't always been this way.
In a speech at The Nantucket Project, a festival of ideas on Nantucket, MA, MCNBC host and former political operative Chris Matthews describes what it was like to work as a top aide to Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill at a time when Democrats held the House of Representatives and Ronald Reagan was in the White House.
Matthews says he has a nostalgia for "those two big Irish guys" - Tip and the Gipper - who used to fight with each other every day. Their dispute at the time was "the pure question of the role of government in our lives," a debate that Matthews says American democracy will always be renegotiating, along with the question of what our role in the world should be.
For six years Matthews worked behind the scenes with O'Neill as the two plotted their moves in the media war between Reagan and O'Neill that Matthews has recounted in his book Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked.
What Matthews feels nostalgia for, more than anything, was a time when politics had rules, or simple constraints that he says both men followed. When they crossed the line, they tried to correct the mistake. For instance, in 1981, Reagan called O'Neill a demagogue. O'Neill said "Don't call me a demagogue, I'm the Speaker of the House." The next day, Matthews says, Reagan was on the phone apologizing.
That respect that people had for each other's office, Matthews says, is completely missing today.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.
- Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
- Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
- Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.
- Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
- Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
- British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
The Green New Deal is an ambitious attempt to fight climate change, but is it destined to hit the political skids?
- Recent protests by the Sunrise Movement have taken the Green New Deal from forgotten policy to trending hashtag.
- The Green New Deal aims to move the U.S. to 100% renewable energy within a decade.
- Proponents also hope to catalyze a top-down restructuring of the U.S. economy and advance social justice issues.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.