Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Hair, the Bear and the Election of 1884

Rum, Romanism and Rebellion, to revive the infamous phrase of the campaign of 1884. That's a platform the Bear can get behind! Or even on top of!

The Bear does not follow human politics much. It's too painful and depressing. In fact, he has no idea who Donald Trump is, except that guy who told people, "You're fired!" on TV. But Trump seems to cause the same kind of reactions bears cause. He's hard to take seriously, but you'd better. That sort of thing.

So in case Trump doesn't get the nomination, the Bear will happily permit him to lead the ticket of a new third party: the Bear Party. (Isn't it funny how the Bear always manages to make everything about himself? That's the way Bears are.) Its symbol? A Bear looking toward the past. And facing right. From the Bear's point of view, and, after all, that's the only one that counts.

What's that you say? Trump's not Catholic? Given several moments of privacy, the Bear is certain he can successfully proselytize him.

Now what about this "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion" thing?

Doomed Couple

The Republican candidates were James G. Blaine and John A. Logan. Logan is remembered as a minor, but successful general in Mr. Lincoln's army. He also happens to have haled from the Bear's neck of the woods. Blaine was infamous at the time for influence peddling. He committed his deals to writing, including one letter with the damning "burn this letter" scrawled at the bottom.

Blaine's opponents would taunt him by chanting, "Burn this letter!"

Grover Cleveland, on the other hand, was a paragon of virtue. Or so people thought. Then the Republicans discovered he had fathered an illegitimate child. Cleveland sort of admitted the slip-up; at any rate he paid money to the child's mother and lent his name to the lad. The mother was an insane strumpet, Cleveland more or less gallantly said, and he had no idea who the real father was, but did the honorable thing.

Cleveland's opponents would taunt him by chanting, "Ma, ma, where's my pa?"

With both parties tarnished at the top of the tickets, no one could predict who would win the election. The Blaine-Logan ticket had an excellent chance.

Then disaster stuck.

An enthusiastic minister thought to help Blaine's chances in the final week of the campaign. "We are Republicans," Rev. Samuel Burchard declaimed, "and don't propose to leave our party and identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents have been rum, romanism, and rebellion."

Though ignored by reporters, a Democrat operative was in the audience. The Democrats made sure the anti-Catholic remark got the widest possible exposure.

Blaine lost heavily Catholic New York, and Grover Cleveland was elected by the slimmest of margins.

Catholics do drink, and Baptists don't. And Catholics are nearly all of them Romanists. But most of all, they have been cast into rebellion against their culture and the laws of their country. The Bear thinks it's time to claim the slur of 1884, and that will be the slogan of the Bear Party. Should there be a need for a Bear Party.


  1. You're having way too much fun, eh?

    1. The horrible truth is the Bear enjoys his three-ring circus. A little slapstick, a bit of satire, some serious essays, and a curious historical fact from tie to time. He figures if its fun for him, it may be fun for others :-D


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