Olive Branch

I came back to Tucson about 5 years ago from a 10 year stint in Japan. In Japan, people don’t talk about politics, it’s sort of a rule. All the politicians are corrupt, everyone knows it, and (unless they are part of some nationalist cult) the topic is taboo. I come back to the States and pundits are yelling on top of each other on TV — the degree of polarization shocked me, and it’s only gotten worse since. It reminds me of a period in our nation’s history that few are aware of. No one is quite sure what really set off the War of 1812 between us and England, but they used to call it the 2nd American Revolution and we almost lost it. What was really happening was, a small group of royalists (called the Essex Junto, after Essex County in Massachussettes where many of them lived), who had infiltrated the Congress and the White house to some extent and parlayed their vitriol through the media they controlled, were intent on dividing the American political machine into two diverse camps to the extent that the hatred of one political party for the other totally paralyzed the country to the extent that the nation couldn’t put up a defense against the British we were at war with. The Brits actually burned parts of Washington D.C., and it looked like our idea of an independent and free country would be nipped in the bud. Then, in 1814, a protege of Ben Franklin named Mathew Carey published a book called Olive Branch. The book outed the Essex Junto and laid bare their involvement in dividing the country politically in pursuit of aiding the British. It literally exploded into the public eye, Olive Branch was the best selling book of the entire 19th century, save the Bible. The Essex traitors ran and hid, the country rallied and the British were defeated and the country survived … thanks to a book. The same thing is happening now (but without the book or the happy ending … thus far.)

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