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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

And thus spake James Madison of the 2006 elections

By Matt Won

When James Madison was 86 years old, he left his home and the lake of his home, and went into the mountains.
There he enjoyed his spirit and his solitude, and for 170 years did not weary of it. But at last his heart changed, and rising one morning with the carbon-rosy dawn, he went before the sun, and spake thus unto it:
“Lo! I am weary of my wisdom, therefore I must descend into the deep: like thee must I go down, as men say, to whom I shall descend.”

Thus began Madison’s down-going.

When Madison arrived at the nearest town which adjoineth the mountains, he found many people assembled in the market-place; for it had been announced that a political victory rally would be performed.
“God is dead,” said Madison. “Long live politics!” say the people.

And Madison spoke thus unto the people:
“Lo, I teach you the Superpatriot!
Partisanship is something that is to be surpassed. What have ye done to surpass partisanship?
Once the party looked contemptuously on the individual, and then that contempt was the supreme thing: the party wished the individual aimless, malleable, famished.

Oh, that party was itself aimless, malleable, famished!
But ye, also, my brethren, tell me: what doth your individuality say about your party? Is your party not poverty and pollution and wretched self-complacency?
Verily, a polluted stream is politics. One must be a sea, to receive a polluted stream without becoming impure.

Lo, I teach you the Superpatriot: he is that sea; in him can your great contempt be submerged.

What is the greatest thing ye can experience? It is the hour of great contempt. The hour in which even your victory becomes loathsome unto you, and also your partisanship and loyalty.

The hour when ye say: ‘What good is victory! It is poverty and pollution and wretched self-complacency.’
What is great in a patriot is that he is a bridge and not a goal: what is lovable in a patriot is that he is an over-going and a down-going.

I love him who loveth his cause: for cause is the will to down-going, and an arrow of longing.
I love him who reserveth no share of spirit for himself, but wanteth to be wholly the spirit of his virtue: thus walketh he as a spirit over the bridge.

I love him who maketh his cause his inclination and destiny: thus, for the sake of his cause, he is willing to live on, or live no more.

I love him who desireth not too many causes. One cause is more of a virtue than two, because it is more of a knot for one’s destiny to cling to.

I love him who chasteneth his representative, because he loveth his representative.

Lo, I am a herald of the lightning, and a heavy drop out of the cloud: the lightning, however, is the Superpatriot.

When Madison had spoken these words, he looked at the people, and was silent. “There they stand,” said he to his heart; “there they laugh: they understand me not; I am not the mouth for these ears.
Must one first batter their ears, that they may learn to hear with their eyes? Must one clatter like a pundit or stumping politician? Or do they only believe the stammerer?
They have something whereof they are proud. What do they call it, that which maketh them proud? A moral imperative, they call it; it distinguisheth them from the goatherds.

They dislike, therefore, to hear of “contempt” of themselves. So I will appeal to their pride.
And thus spake Madison unto the people:
“Alas! There cometh the time of the most despicable man, who can no longer despise himself.

Lo! I show you the last patriot.

The world of ideas hath then become small, and on it there hoppeth the last patriot who maketh everything small. His species is ineradicable like that of the ground-flea; the last patriot liveth longest.

No shepherd, and one herd! Everyone wanteth the same; everyone is equal: he who hath other sentiments leaveth voluntarily the party.

‘Formerly all the world was insane,’ say the subtlest of them.

They have their little protests for the day, and their little rallies for the night, but they have a regard for health.”

“We have discovered the life of righteousness,” say the last men, and handeth Madison a flyer.

[This editorial is adapted from Friedrich Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra]

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