If one did not know which era the passage referred to, he or she might think Heale was discussing key problems confronting today's society instead of the sociopolitical environment in the the U.S. circa 1900-1917. Eerily, other issues, including the power of the courts, unlimited corporate donations to politicians, and voter apathy also figure prominently in this period. Granted, many of the specific problems facing the U.S. in that period, such as bossism, differ from the conundrums current Americans have to deal with. However, it appears that the meta-concerns are synonymous. The same thing probably holds true in other countries as well.It seemed to many that the tensions that threatened the peace of American society stemmed in no small degree from the malfunctioning of the political system. Government no longer reflected the will of the whole community; special interests...had insinuated themselves at strategic junctures...generally warping public policies. Party political machines too had intruded between the citizenry and the government, illicitly perpetuating their own power and promoting the interests of their particular clients...The idea of purifying politics by restoring power to 'the people'...
My takeaway from my reading is simple. Many of the underlying issues that divide Americans are not new. Rather, they go back decades if not centuries. However, many of us, including myself, tend to forget this fact due to our short lives and even shorter memories. With this in mind, it might behoove us to peruse through a history book before we try to devise solutions to our problems or to craft compromises on divisive issues. Perhaps, via our reading, we will be able to identify some approaches that did work or alternatively some schemes that failed (and will fail again if applied to today's situation).
My review of the book brought home for me the meaning of an old cliche, "The past often repeats itself."
Photo courtesy of Barnes & Noble website: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/twentieth-century-america-m-j-heale/1006245698?ean=9780340614075