Ostracism: Should we cast our ostraka?
When the political waters got too rough in ancient Athens, the people (the demos) had a way of pouring oil on troubled political waters by voting to “ostracize” one or more of their political figures – especially those suspected of tyrannical ambitions or, maybe, just for being contentious.
Paper (papyrus) being too expensive to use for ballots, the Athenians of the 5th Century B.C. used shards (ostraka in Greek) of broken jars and dishes onto which they scratched the name of the public figure they wished to be ostracized – exiled for ten years. If over 6,000 ostraka were “cast,” then the way was cleared to ostracize the political figure or figures receiving the most ostraka. Failure of the ostracized to depart Athens was punishable by death. During the approximately 70 years it was practiced, ostracism served, in general, to reduce political tensions.
What if 21st Century Americans adapted ostracism to our system of political caucuses and primary elections? Even though the polling data collected at: www.realclearpolitics.com are too early to be meaningful, let’s use those polls to examine the presidential contenders of today’s two major political parties in terms of what their ostracism might do to calm our political waters:
If Hillary Rodman Clinton (36.3%) were elected President, that might be a way for taxpayers to get back some of the furnishings she carted off from the White House to her New York mansion. Since then, Hillary has probably thrown enough of our dishes at Bill to provide enough ostraka to hold a Greek-style election for the entire State of New York State. If Hillary’s attempt at a Restoration fail, she and Bill might be interned (bad word choice) on St. Helena.
For obvious reasons, Barack Hussein Obama (25.7%) cannot be ostracized. But when Hillary turns her attack-canine, James Carville, loose on Barack Hussein Obama, something Muslim is sure to surface. (Ironically, when John F. Kennedy (JFK) was running for President, we were told that religion shouldn’t be an issue.)
Mr. (anti-law-suit-abuse-reform) John Edwards (11.7%) could be ostracized for claiming there are two Americas: One for the poor and one for folks like lawyer Edwards and his wife who live in a brand-new, 28,000 square-foot mansion. That’s larger than many office buildings!
Al Gore (no poll numbers yet) could be ostracized because his Nashville mansion consumes more energy every month than the average American home does in an entire year. But, like the pre-Reformation sinners, Gore has purchased global warming indulgences from the Our Lady of Kyoto Cathedral for High Carbon Dioxide Producers.
Rudi Giuliani (36.9%) may be ostracized by the evangelicals because he and his current wife have each been married three times. For that, the evangelicals could send them into a ten-year exile to some foreign place like, well, Staten Island. John McCain (21.3%) could be ostracized for wanting to grant amnesty to illegal aliens and for his denigration of evangelicals. McCain could be sent to manage a Big Macquiladora factory in Mexico. Newt Gingrich (10.6%) with his three marriages could be exiled to update his Contract With America. Unlike JFK, Mitt Romney (8.1%) might be ostracized to conduct a ten-year Mormon mission
Brought back to life in the 21st Century, the ancient Greeks might ostracize all of today’s candidates. Unfortunately, others will come forward as in: “We child-proofed our house, but they keep getting back in.”
Republicans should fear U.S. Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana who says he isn’t running but has not done a General Sherman: “If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.” But, should the Democrats deadlock in Denver, there may be no sitting Bayh.
Democrats should fear former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson. With only one divorce (amicable), strong on fighting the war on terror and a conservative voting record, Fred Thompson might be the one to bring “law and order” not just to our land, but to wherever our troops are fighting the Islamic fascists.
So, let he who is without sin, cast the first ostrakon (singular).
Syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and a former research fellow at the U.S. Military History Institute of the U.S. Army War College. He is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2007. William Hamilton.