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Where did the Statesmen go?

4776

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In thinking about the dearth of Statesmen, of the character the likes of Washington and others of his time, in today's American political scene it occurs to me that we have now few or none.

Consider this. The Revolutionary period, with a population of about 2 million, produced not less than 17 (off the top of my head) easily identifiable leaders who I would classify as Statemen. With our population now at about 300 million we should have not less than 2,500 Statespersons. Name one (or more), I can't.
 

MaggieD

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We don't respect our leaders anymore. We doubt them . . . we chastise them . . . we villify them. We play the "gotcha" game with their personal lives and political views constantly. I think many leaders today will become statesmen in the history books.
 

4776

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We don't respect our leaders anymore. We doubt them . . . we chastise them . . . we villify them. We play the "gotcha" game with their personal lives and political views constantly. I think many leaders today will become statesmen in the history books.

Then who, do you think, history may recognise as such?
 

Geo Patric

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agreed, maggie.

of course, it would help if the OP had identified what he means by 'statesman' - dictionary just defines it as an individual involved in politics. Perhaps he mean "great statesman", which then only begs the qualification of 'great'.

Most of what made great statesmen of the past great, intelligence, integrity, graciousness and a greater sense of 'public trust' than personal agenda are largely but not entirely absent.

We have such men and women. But they do not promise to make us richer, so we do not listen to them. We voters, too, are to held accountable. We might find a better grade of politician if we looked for those who have more vision than simply satisying our desires to have more stuff.

but... i am not holding my breath.
geo.
 

Groucho

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We don't respect our leaders anymore. We doubt them . . . we chastise them . . . we villify them. We play the "gotcha" game with their personal lives and political views constantly. I think many leaders today will become statesmen in the history books.

Agreed. If the press had gone after Jefferson or Franklin for their private lives, they may have well said, as many do these days, "Heck with it, I'll retire to private life, you guys are on your own."
 

4776

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Jefferson or Franklin"

OK, my list is down to 15 - that leaves a statistically adjusted expectation of 2,250 contemporary "Statespersons". Please name one.

BTW: Your link leads me to think you are a lawyer so I guess you'll excuse me if I say "Your response was not responsive to my inquiry" ;)
 

TurtleDude

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what sort of great man wants to have some bimbo with a face lift and a boob job ask him is he had an affair twenty years ago or smoked some reefer at a Dead concert when he was in law school?

its like the supreme court confirmation hearings. One of my good friends has been listed as a possible GOP supreme court pick (I will give you a hint-he founded the Federalist Society and was, with Estrada, AJ Kennedy's first two law clerks). I asked him how he could stomach being questioned about the law by morons like Joe Biden who barely graduated from a second string law school. As Senator Phil Graham eloquently noted after Bork was screwed over--what a disgrace it was that the man who was first in law school class and held the most prestigous chaired professorship in American Law (the Sterling Professor of Constitutional Law at Yale) was being judged by a man who was thrown out of harvard for cheating (Ted Kennedy) and a guy who graduated almost last in his class at the 6th best law school in NY (Biden)

being harassed and judged by idiots is enough to keep most great men (and women) from wanting to be in politics. While some of those men and women still answer the call (like it or not GHWB was such a man), most of those who choose politics do it as a way to enrich themselves (rather than taking a major pay cut as GHWB did).
 

Fiddytree

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In thinking about the dearth of Statesmen, of the character the likes of Washington and others of his time, in today's American political scene it occurs to me that we have now few or none.

Consider this. The Revolutionary period, with a population of about 2 million, produced not less than 17 (off the top of my head) easily identifiable leaders who I would classify as Statemen. With our population now at about 300 million we should have not less than 2,500 Statespersons. Name one (or more), I can't.

"Men always praise ancient times and condemn the present, but not always with good reason, and they are such partisans of the past that they celebrate not only those eras they have come to known through the records that historians have left behind but also those that they, have grown old, remember having seen in their younger days. When their opinion is mistaken, as it is most all the time, I am persuaded that there are several reasons leading them to error. The first reason is, I believe, that we do not know the complete truth about ancient affairs, and that most frequently those matters would bring disgrace on those times are hidden, while other matters that would bestow them with glory are recounted most fully and magnificently. Most historians follow the fortune of the conquerors, and in order to render their victories more glorious not only amplify what they have most skillfully achieved but also magnify the actions of their enemies in such a fashion that anyone born afterward in either of the two provinces, that of the victor or that of the vanquished has reasons to marvel at those men and those times and is compelled to the highest degree to admire and to love them. Besides this, since men hate things either out of fear or out of envy, two very powerful explanations for hatred of things in the past are eliminated, for they cannot harm you nor can they give you cause for envy. But the contrary occurs with those matters which you handle or observe, no part of which is hidden from you, because you know them in great detail, and recognizing in them along with the good, numerous other details which are not so pleasing, you are constrained to judge them as being much inferior to ancient affairs even though, in reality, present affairs may be much more deserving of glory and fame; I am not discussing matters pertaining to the arts, which shine with so much brilliance in themselves that the times can neither take much away from them nor bestow much more glory upon them than they intrinsically deserve, but I am speaking rather of those matters pertaining to the lives and customs of men, for which we do not see such clear evidence."
-Niccolo Machiavelli "Preface to Book II" Discourses on Livy
 

MKULTRABOY

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Politics is to blame for turning our statesmen into politicians. The blame lands squarely on us :p
 

Fiddytree

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We don't respect our leaders anymore. We doubt them . . . we chastise them . . . we villify them. We play the "gotcha" game with their personal lives and political views constantly.

We have always done so. Elections and post-election times during the early days of our Republic were still filled with venomous rhetoric, using the same topics that spread through our tabloids today-sex, religion, atheism, accusations of being a monarchist, and so on. It is the speed of communications that has accelerated, but political tactics have remained similar long before any of us have been alive.
 

TurtleDude

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Politics is to blame for turning our statesmen into politicians. The blame lands squarely on us :p

the whores in the press and the need to sell advertisement hasn't helped.
 

MKULTRABOY

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Are the press 'whores'? What makes you say that exactly? :shrug:
 

4776

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There is one other political forum with a Google page rank of 4 and I posted on it also. After 48 hours between them we got Geo H W Bush, Gen Petraeus, and Clarence Thomas

OK - I fibbed I've got two, Fred Thompson and Sam Nunn
 
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