August 9, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The toxicity of politics is not a 21st century creation, as this op-ed piece from the Capital Journal sets out, and all that needs to be done to bring it up to the present is to change references to fit one’s bête noire:

Politicians Who Capitalize Strife A Menace To Government
Neglect of Agricultural and Industrial Opportunities A National Crime

There never was a time in the history of this nation when we needed statesmen more or agitators less than at the present moment. The opportunities now afforded us on land and sea demand the best there is in statecraft and the possibilities that are confronting us call for national issues that unite the people, build industry and expand trade. The agricultural and industrial development of this nation has suffered severely at the hands of agitators who have sent torpedoes crashing into the port side of business and whose neglect of the interests of the farmer makes them little less than political criminals. We want no more of these evil sprits to predominate in government. Too long their hysterical cry has sent a shiver down the spinal column of industry. Too long have the political agitators capitalized strife, pillaged progress and murdered opportunity. And industrial corpse is not a desirable thing, a crippled business an achievement or neglect an accomplishment about which any representative of the government has a right to boast.

Ah, hyperbole. Using prohibition as an example, the author writes that “the political agitator must be eliminated from public life before thoughtful consideration can be given to a constructive program in government.” Concluding the op-ed piece the writer speaks to the demands for constructive statesmanship:

We have in this country too many red-nosed politicians – both pro and anti. A candidate with political delirium tremens, a preacher with political snakes in his boots and an agitator drunk on the liquor question are the saddest sights in civilization and they should all be forced to take the political Keeley Cure.

It is far more important in government to make it easier for those who toil to eat than to make it more difficult for a few topers to drink. There is not one person in a hundred of our rural population that ever touches liquor but we all eat three times a day.


About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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