TPP Summertime Update

Even with cities burning and an election mere months away, the summertime doldrums have hit.  “Doldrums” isn’t exactly the right word, as things are going pretty well, but the long (for me) Father’s Day weekend distracted me from the woes of the world.

There’s also the issue of unlimited free time that is summer vacation.  Don’t get me wrong—I’m not complaining—but when I have one slender hour in the day to get my blog post done, I tend to be much more productive and focused.  It takes pressure to make diamonds—or 600-word blog posts full of sweeping generalizations.

I’ve fallen a bit behind on SubscribeStar content.  I still owe $5 subs a couple of editions of Sunday Doodles, which I will have up soon.  All subscribers missed out on a SubscribeStar Saturday post, which I will also attempt to make up soon.

History of Conservative Thought is going well, and we have two more meetings before the Fourth of July break.  This Wednesday we’ll be reading documents from John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, the Federalists/Northern Conservatives.  Next week we’ll dive into Southern Conservatism with John Randolph of Roanoke and (possibly) some excerpts from Richard Weaver‘s Southern Essays.

So that’s it for a quick Monday update.  Be on the lookout for more substance tomorrow.

—TPP

America’s Roman Roots

The Portly Politico is striving towards self-sufficiency.  If you would like to support my work, consider subscribing to my SubscribeStar page.  Your subscription of $1/month or more gains you access to exclusive content every Saturday, including annual #MAGAWeek posts.  If you’ve received any value from my scribblings, I would very much appreciate your support.

Armchair historians and dime-a-dozen political pundits (like yours portly) love to compare the United States to the Roman Empire, usually during its decadent latter-day decline.  The comparison is an easy one to make; just like Rome in the fourth and fifth centuries, the United States possesses an underclass of wage slaves; an obsession with mystery religions and spiritualistic fads; an immigration crisis; a decadent, self-indulgent quasi-morality; declining birth rates; and a sense the precious liberty of the old Republic has been lost.

Yet for all those declinist comparisons—apt though they may be—Americans should extend their historical gaze back further, to the Roman Republic.  That is what Dr. Steele Brand, Assistant Professor of History at The King’s College, urges Americans to do in an op-ed entitled “Why knowing Roman history is key to preserving America’s future” (thanks to a dear former of colleague of mine—and a regular reader of this blog—for sharing this piece).

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Lazy Sunday XVII: #MAGAWeek2019

This past week was #MAGAWeek2019 here at The Portly Politico.  Each day’s post was a SubscribeStar exclusive.  For a subscription of $1/month, you gain exclusive to each day’s posts, as well as exclusive content every Saturday throughout the rest of the year.  Visit my SubscribeStar page for more details.

In case you missed anything from #MAGAWeek2019, this week’s edition of Lazy Sunday is dedicated to catching you up on what you missed.  But remember, you only get a teaser of each post; to read the full posts, you have to subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1/month or more.  That includes exclusive content every Saturday, too, like yesterday’s review of my trip to New Jersey and Coney Island, NYC, “Mid-Atlantic Musings.”

But enough sales pitches.  Here were the highlights from #MAGAWeek2019:

  • Fast Food” – After a long day on the road last Sunday, I decided to do something fun and lighthearted to kick off #MAGAWeek2019.  President Trump famously loves fast food, even feeding it to the Clemsux National Championship football team in vast quantities.  I, too, appreciate good fast food, and marvel at its ability to provide a filling, calorie-rich meal at an affordable price.  You can read more of my high cholesterol musings on the topic at my SubscribeStar page.
  • Alexander Hamilton” – Hamilton engenders a great deal of debate between decentralist Jeffersonians (such as myself) and centralists, but his influence on and importance to America’s early political and financial formation cannot be denied—indeed, it should be celebrated.  Jefferson and Madison were probably correct, constitutionally, on the issue of the national bank—Congress had no explicit constitutional authority to create such an institution—but Hamilton’s financial reforms placed the nation on solid financial footing, ensuring the United States had the financial infrastructure in place for explosive growth and expansion.
  • John Adams” – John Adams is an unappreciated Founder and Framer, though David McCullough’s magisterial biography of the second President of the United States has done much to lift Adams’s profile.  Adams served the United States ably as our Commander in Chief during his single term, staving off a full-blown war with France while protecting American mercantile shipping on the high seas.
  • President Trump’s Independence Day Speech” – On a particularly star-spangled Fourth of July, President Trump delivered a powerhouse of an Independence Day speech.  Not only were the multiple flyovers of military aircraft impressive (ending, of course, with the Blue Angels soaring majestically over the National Mall), the speech itself was a masterclass in what I dub “old, patriotic American history.”  It’s well worth watching—and reading my full analysis on my SubscribeStar page.

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: Mid-Atlantic Musings

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Thanks to everyone who supported #MAGAWeek2019.  Those posts—on Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, President Trump’s Independence Day Speech, and fast food—will always be available in full on my SubscribeStar page with your subscription of just $1 a month or more.

I’ve been writing all this week from central New Jersey.  Other than a brief stay in Jersey City on a school trip to New York City in 2014, I’ve never really been to New Jersey.  Contrary to my assumptions, New Jersey is not a dystopian nightmare covered in asphalt and broken dreams (although I’m told Newark is).

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

TBT^2: Happy Birthday, America!

It’s Independence Day in the United States!  God Bless America!

I hope everyone has been enjoying #MAGAWeek2019.  Remember, you can read those full entries only on SubscribeStar with a $1/mo. or higher subscription.  Your subscription also includes exclusive access to new content every Saturday, as well as other goodies from time to time.

I’m happy to announce, too, that I have my first subscriber.  You, too, can support my work for just $1 a month (or more).  That’s the price of a large pizza if you paid for it over the course of an entire year—you can’t beat that!

In case you’ve missed them, so far #MAGAWeek2019 has commemorated our second President, John Adams; our first Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton; and our national cuisine, fast food.  You can also check out all of #MAGAWeek2018’s entries.

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#MAGAWeek2019: John Adams

It’s #MAGAWeek2019 here at The Portly Politico.  Each day’s post will be a SubscribeStar exclusive.  For a subscription of $1/month, you gain exclusive to each day’s posts, as well as exclusive content every Saturday throughout the rest of the year.  Visit my SubscribeStar page for more details.

Yesterday’s edition of #MAGAWeek2019 looked briefly at the career of our first Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.  Hamilton’s controversial financial proposals helped put the nation on a sound financial footing, but also created a rift between loose constructionist Federalists, who favored a national bank and closer commercial ties with Great Britain and protective tariffs, and the strict constructionist Democratic-Republicans, who wanted a nation of small, independent farmers and more diffused power.

Alongside Hamilton in the new Federalist Party was another important figure, one somewhat maligned by history, but who has enjoyed a revival of reputation thanks to a popular HBO miniseries and a thorough treatment from popular historian David McCullough:  our second President, John Adams.

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#MAGAWeek2019: Alexander Hamilton

It’s #MAGAWeek2019 here at The Portly Politico.  Each day’s post will be a SubscribeStar exclusive.  For a subscription of $1/month, you gain exclusive to each day’s posts, as well as exclusive content every Saturday throughout the rest of the year.  Visit my SubscribeStar page for more details.

Last year for #MAGAWeek2018 I highlighted several of our great Founding Fathers, including obvious picks like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.  I also threw in the less-obvious son of a Framer, John Quincy Adams.  One key Framer I left out:  the ubiquitous Alexander Hamilton.

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Southern Conservatism: John Randolph of Roanoke

MAGA Week 2019 is one week away!  Get ready to celebrate America all week long!  This year, all MAGA Week posts will be exlusive to my SubscribeStar page, so subscribe today!  $1 a month gets you full access to all posts, including new content every Saturday.

As my History of Conservative Thought course rolls on, I’m learning more about the forgotten byways and overgrown, stately ruins of the various branches of conservatism.  Students this week are reading a couple of documents from John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, the two founders of the Federalist Party, and key to the passage of the Constitution.  Hamilton, the author of the bulk of the pro-ratification Federalist Papers, also created the financial system upon which the United States functions today.

Hamilton and Adams have both enjoyed renewed interest in recent years, Hamilton due to the smash Broadway musical about his life, and Adams from a critically-acclaimed HBO series (one that, sadly, takes some unnecessary artistic license with the past).  In the case of Hamilton, American history students are often enthusiastic to get to him in my AP US History course, and Hamilton mega-fans often know more about the first Secretary of Treasury than I do.

But we’re reading a speech from another important figure from American history, albeit one largely forgotten:  John Randolph of Roanoke.

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Reblog: Practically Historical on the Electoral College

A quick (and late) post today, as the Internet is still out at home (although this time it’s not entirely due to Frontier’s incompetence).  SheafferHistorianAZ of Practically Historical posted another classic piece yesterday defending the Electoral College.  Rather than rely solely on abstract arguments, he went to the primary sources:  in this case, the words of James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, and Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of Treasury.

Here is an excerpt from SheafferHistorianAZ himself, taken from before and after quotations from Madison (writing in Federal No. 39) and Hamilton (Federalist No. 68; emphasis is Sheaffer’s):

Plurality is part of the Federal electoral process, but integrated to meet the needs of federalism.  States matter in our compound republic.  Madison wanted them involved in the process of choosing the executive.

Think of the electoral vote this way…  In the 1960 World Series, the New York Yankees outscored the Pittsburgh Pirates 55-27  and out-hit the hapless Pirates 91-60.  Using the rationale of plurality as demanded by the national popular vote crowd, the Yankees were clearly world champs that year.  But runs are integrated into games, and in 1960, the Pirates won 4 games, the Yankees 3.  Runs and hits are part of a process, but the process integrates all parts of the sport into choosing a winner[.]

That sports metaphor is one that I think will resonate with many voters, and it’s one that is intuitive.  It’s probably the best I’ve heard.  It’s a tough pitch to say, “the States have rights in our system, and without the Electoral College, LA and NYC would decide every election.”

Anti-Collegiates (the best term I can come up with on the fly for the anti-Electoral College crowd) always argue that States like Wyoming would get more attention from presidential candidates, which is numerically ludicrous—what’s 600,000 Wyomans against millions of New Yorkers?—and disingenuous.  No one arguing against the Electoral College cares about the people in Wyoming; they just want progressive elites and their urban mobs to always carry presidential elections for progressive Democrats.

But the sports metaphors takes something abstract but important—States’ rights and accounting for regional differences—and puts in terms that are more concrete but trivial.  Everyone knows it doesn’t matter if you win every game by an extra point—what matters is that you win every game (college football fans may disagree slightly, but a W is a W).

One final note before wrapping up:  I’ve recently heard proposals to reform the Electoral College to conform with congressional districts, so that it’s more reflective of the popular will, while still retaining the essential “flavor” of the Electoral College.  It’s intriguing, but I also think it’s a trap:  it’s a compromise position for a side that has no leverage.  Engaging in that debate tacitly concedes that there’s something wrong with the Electoral College, when there really isn’t.

Don’t fix what isn’t broken.  Yes, we occasionally get distorted outcomes.  But those “distortions” act as an important break on mob rule and the tyranny it inevitably breeds.