Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What Would My Revolutionary War Ancestors Think Of Our Nation's Present Predicament?

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There is little doubt that Jacob and Conrad Brumbaugh, knowing what the rest of us know concerning Trump, would regard him as a traitor no different from Benedict Arnold.

Let us acknowledge the past is important to reference for perspective as well as to sustain a grounding in reality for current events. This is why history is so important: not to memorize and regurgitate a bunch of disconnected dates, but to ascertain and grasp how power is won and lost and especially - in our case- how democracies can emerge and then perish.

In light of the latter, many sentient Americans - those not trapped in the bubble of fake news spewed out by FOX -  know full well our Republic is in dire, manifest peril. This ought not be "rocket science" but it is for a large swath of the public daily fed lies by "Trump TV" and its assorted Trump surrogates across the media spectrum - including the recent spawn known as Sinclair Broadcasting.  Most critical, is the recognition by most of us we have a traitor in our midst, indeed, running the country - inserted into power by a hostile foreign nation. A nation whose autocratic leader, incidentally, Trump plans to meet with in 12 days.

With the Independence Day celebrations tomorrow, I thought it might be instructive to consider what my ancestors Jacob and Conrad  Brumbaugh - both of whom fought in the War of Independence- might think of our situation and Trump.  I ought to take time here to applaud Janice's notable efforts in finding the connections to  Jacob Jockel and Conrad as well as intervening generations, while doing research at Ancestry.com.

It was Janice's fine efforts which first turned up Eliza Ann Brumbaugh,  my paternal great grandmother, with her marriage certificate  dated Nov. 20, 1881- marriage to my great grandfather Phillip Adam Stahl.  From there, and getting hold of the book, 'The Genealogy of the Brumbaughs',  she could track back four generations to Jacob 'Jockel' Brumbaugh, and younger brothers Conrad, George, and Johann. It was Jacob and Conrad who fought in the Pennsylvania Militia during the American Revolution.

Specifically, Jacob Jockel Brumbaugh served as a Private, Seventh class, 4th Company of the First Battalion, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Militia.   Conrad served as a Private in Capt. John Orbison's Fourth Company, Fourth Battalion of the Cumberland County Militia - commanded by Col. Samuel Culbertson. Jacob and Conrad knew what they were fighting for:  home and country -   against a tyrant King (George III) and his whole gang of Redcoats.

However, there is no doubt at all that neither Jacob or Conrad - if confronted by today's appalling events and our dear "leader"- would wonder why the War of Independence had been fought at all. That is,  given so much liberty and a thriving nascent Republic appeared to have been so easily sacrificed to a latter day "Mad King George".  Only now in the odious person of a grifter-made billionaire named Donald Drumpf. And one in conspiracy with a hostile foreign power which clearly helped put him into office.

As James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, noted in a recent TIME interview:

"Of course the Russian efforts affected the outcome. Surprising themselves, they swung the election to a Trump win. To conclude otherwise stretches logic, common sense and credulity to the breaking point.  Less than eighty thousand votes in three key states swung the election, I have no doubt that more votes than that were influence by this massive effort by the Russians."

Both Jacob and Conrad would no doubt have weighed Clapper's words carefully, but also examined the deep background as turned up by the extensive reporting in  The New Republic (Aug./Sept. p. 29) to wit:

"A review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern: Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency, to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia. Over the past three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, or even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money .....Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics....It's entirely possible that Trump was never more than a convenient patsy for Russian oligarchs and mobsters."

The ongoing, deplorable actions of the White House occupant would also have angered and appalled both brothers, e.g.   the flouting of the emoluments clause in the Constitution by Trump and his family, e.g.


Neither Jacob or Conrad would have taken kindly to Trump's  continual reliance on rallies for his base, inciting their passions and presenting further evidence for the 'mischief of faction'  Madison warned about whereby "citizens - whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole - are united and actuated by a common impulse of passion (to cast their votes) adverse to the rights of other citizens or the permanent and aggregate interests of the community". 

This is exactly what the Trump voters did, motivated by passion and recklessness via Trump's often violent rallies to give a middle finger salute to the rest of the country - thereby militating against the majority's interests.  It is also what Trump's pandering to his base continues to do.  I suspect Conrad would be most exasperated at Trump's betrayal of long time allies, while also pandering to hostile authoritarian regimes, including in Turkey, the Philippines, and North Korea- even saluting a N. Korean General, e.g.

For which I can just imagine both Jacob Jockel and Conrad saying: "For that he should be hung!" E.g.
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What about Trump's "zero tolerance" policy of locking up infants, toddlers in cages at "tender age shelters"?  Jacob and Conrad would have blown their respective gaskets: "In cages? Children?  This vile filth should not only be hung but drawn and quartered too! Is that what he would have done to us on entering this country from Germany?  To our brothers too? Swine!"

In the end, it's good neither Jacob or Conrad is able to see the travesty, betrayal and destruction to which our country has been subjected.  At the same time, if their spirits were still alive and energized, they'd be literally screaming "Do not go quietly into the despot's  dark night! Fight, fight for what is right though all looks lost! This country we fought for is more important than one man - or all his supporting liars,  quislings and followers!"

Footnote:  It was Janice who reminded me that  Jacob Jockel also fought in the American Revolution, hence the edits made  to this post.

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