Like any American, the Fourth of July gets me thinking about our republic, and all it stands for. I remember as a kid I saw a comic that looked like something out of Ancient Rome. It was in a history book we were studying in a high school social studies class. Thomas Nast drew it, aimed at someone named Boss Tweed. I did some research and found out the story behind him.
Today, the story seems quite relevant.
William Tweed worked with some Republican reformers to wrest power from the Democrats who held the New York City government. He got a job on one of the county boards, and from there he and his cronies gradually took over total control of the city and state governments. While they did some good, built orphanages, obtained land for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and so forth. They also lined their pockets with millions of taxpayers’ dollars.
Over time, more and more people became outraged at these wealthy men growing richer on the backs of the poor and the working class. One reformer was Thomas Nast. He was an artist who worked for a magazine called Harper’s Weekly. It’s from him that a number of our modern icons originated. He created the Democratic Donkey and Republican Elephant, Uncle Sam, Columbia, the beautiful image of America, and Santa Claus as a plump bearded man.
One of his comics was particularly powerful. It showed Boss Tweed as a Roman emperor, sitting in the Coliseum, and watching as a tiger devoured a woman named Liberty. The caption read: “What are you going to do about it?”
By that time, the public’s anger was up, and that image was the last straw. Boss Tweed and his cronies were stripped of power, many were indicted, and Tweed eventually went to prison.
All of this took place in the mid 1800’s!
As I said, quite relevant to today.
I have to wonder, given the control the wealthy and the corporations are obtaining within our government – at all levels – just how bad things are going to get? How much money are they going to bleed from the poor and the middle class? How long before someone says, “What are you going to do about it?”
More importantly, will the American public be as strong and determined as those New Yorkers of old; will they actually do something about it?
It’s up to you, America, what are you going to do about it?
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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