Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Term-paper cynicism, or a Thoreauvian aside

As I dig through Congressional Research Service briefs, I hear Thoreau in the back of my mind:
"No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America. They are rare in the history of the world. There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men, by the thousand; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of settling the much-vexed questions of the day. We love eloquence for its own sake, and not for any truth which it may utter, or any heroism it may inspire. Our legislators have not yet learned the comparative value of free trade and of freedom, of union, and of rectitude, to a nation. They have no genius or talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufactures and agriculture. If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislators in Congress for our guidance, uncorrected by the seasonable experience and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations. For eighteen hundred years, though perchance I have no right to say it, the New Testament has been written; yet where is the legislator who has wisdom and practical talent enough to avail himself of the light which it sheds on the science of legislation."


Sue said...

Absolutely fascinating! Thanks!

Pat Jenkins said...

a balancing act for any society, at least a democratic one. govern to keep the peace, at the same time allowing man the grace of self rule and soveirgnty. no easy task!!!

Sue said...

erd -- I notice that I posted my comment in the wrong place, the thank you was for the Appollo mission notes.