After three months a handful of stops and starts, I’ve finally finished Sean Wilentz’s The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. It is a beast – a beast – of a book, and I’m quite proud of myself for getting through it, however well-written it is.

My dad always says that when you study something in enough detail, then you end up studying everything. That happened a bit in this book – now everywhere I look I see founding fathers and divisive aristorats and democratic rabble-rousers. two examples from today’s news. First, Congress’s refusal to pass the $700 billion Wall Street bailout (700,000,000,000? What does that number even mean?) harkens straight back to Andrew Jackson’s anti-banking instincts, and all the populist rhetoric that it rode on. Second, watching Ecuador fight over and pass its new constitution – a 444-article tome, and Ecuador’s twentieth in 200 years – makes me marvel at how sturdy our own little constitution has proven, despite the hardly guaranteed development of democracy in the first half of the 19th century. It was a rough ride, no doubt about it.

One Reply to “Finished!”

  1. $700,000,000,000 =Gasoline for every car in the US for 16 months =Approx. the economy of the Netherlands-the 17th largest in the world=7% of the national debt ($9.8 trillion) = Full funding for the Defense, Treasury, Education, State, Veterans Affairs and Interior Departments, and NASA=$2,300 for each person in the US or $6,200 to each household=The income taxes for every American making $500,000 or less = Buying every NFL, NBA and MLB team, building each one a stadium, and paying each player $191 million for a year. Complements of TIME, sorry, it still comes to the house

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