Donn Piatt on political parties

From “the sage of Mac-O-Chee1”, Donn Piatt:

Recognizing as I do that Democracy is the organized ignorance of the country and the Republican party the organized greed, I could not belong to one or the other.

American politics has crystallized into two hostile camps that differ from each other only in name and possession of offices.

Ask a Democrat why he’s a Democrat and he will tell you it is because he is not a Republican and a Republican, asked the same question will give the same answer reversed. The ludicrous part of this lies in the fact that neither party dares avow opinions because such avowal may loose them votes!

A man can be a Republican and hold any political opinions he pleases, provided he stands by the camp and votes the ticket. This is like the condition of the Democratic organization.

Instead of views being promulgated as a test of party fealty, they are avoid or concealed. Success depends on the number of votes obtained and as opinions are apt to offend, they are hidden or ignored. Nothing is so amusing as a platform, as it is called, solemnly proclaimed at intervals.

It is the nature of human beings to lose in an organization itself, the purpose for which it was organized. This obtains in politics as in religion.

It is worth pointing out a few things here. First that Donn was largely responsible for establishing a strong Democratic party in western Ohio. And second that Donn was also one of the primary founders of the Republican party. President Abraham Lincoln was among his friends, Donn campaigned hard for Abraham Lincoln.

So Donn’s comment about not belonging to a political party is not to say he was not political or did not join with a political party when He believed it served him. Donn’s political involvement truly centered around the issues. It’s probably why his political career was so very short. Donn only served one term in the Ohio state senate.

While I don’t agree with Donn’s entire quote above. For example his views on economics are downright deplorable, some of which you can see above in his swipe at the Republican party. I think Donn is spot-on when it comes to how dreadfully few politicians are true statesmen in his word, the difference being a focus on the issues (statesmen) rather than the votes (politicians).

  1. Further reading here. []
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