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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Blueprint for America's Future (Part Three)

(Editor's note: This is the third segment in a multi-part series titled A Blueprint for America's Future. The underlying theme highlights the iconic presidential election of 1912, which some believe contains the true blueprint for America's future. The second segment covers Theodore Roosevelt's transformation of faith, acceptance of the nomination for his new "Progressive" or "Bull Moose" Party and vision for a moral society.)

As October 1912 reaches its midpoint, the political calendar reflects that US presidential election day is still about three weeks away.  This provides sufficient time for mystical interlude.  For if superior wisdom accepts that reason lies on one side of the purely psychic --- and faith on the other --- that interlude would project into the psychic realm.

A twenty-six-year-old unemployed recluse named John Schrank lives above a New York City saloon which had employed him once.  This is before Theodore Roosevelt, then police commissioner, had gone on a Sunday-closing crusade.  Schrank has been unable to get a job.

Shortly after President McKinley had been assassinated in 1901, elevating T.R. to the presidency, Schrank has a dream.  His shabby surroundings are transformed into a funeral parlor full of flowers.  An open coffin lies before him.  President McKinley sits up in it and points to a dark corner of the room.  Peering out, Schrank makes out the figure of a man dressed as a monk.  Under the cowl Schrank recognizes the bespectacled features of T.R.

“This is my murderer,” McKinley says.  “Avenge my death.”  Schrank awakens from his nightmare and checks his watch.  It is 1:30 A.M.  He goes back to sleep.  The appeal would not be renewed for another eleven years.

Fast forward to September 1912.  John Schrank sits writing poetry in his two-dollar-a-week apartment in downtown Manhattan.  It is the anniversary of the McKinley assassination.

When night draws near
And you hear a knock
And a voice should whisper
Your time is up. …

As Schrank doodles, he feels the ghost of the dead president lay a hand on his shoulder.  It does not stop his pen.

Refuse to answer
As long as you can
Then face it and be a man.

Later, it is revealed that the appeal of McKinley’s ghost has been renewed at the same hour of the same night of the week as the earlier episode.

Back in the real world, T.R. is scheduled on October 14, 1912 to give an important speech on Progressivism in Milwaukee.  On the way to the hall he takes his customary right-hand seat in his roofless, seven-seat automobile.  His escorts fan out to take their seats.  Acknowledging the crowd, T.R. stands up to bow.  At that moment, no more than seven feet away, Schrank fires. 

The bullet lays embedded against T.R.’s fourth right rib, four inches from the sternum.  Heading straight toward the heart, its upward and inward trajectory has to pass through T.R.’s dense overcoat into his suit jacket pocket, then through a hundred glazed pages of his bi-folded speech into his vest pocket, which contains a steel-reinforced spectacle case three layers thick, and on through two webs of suspender belt, shirt fabric, and undershirt flannel, before eventually coming into contact with skin and bone.  Even so, the force has been enough to crack the rib.  T.R.’s personal doctor points out that the spectacle case has deflected the bullet upward.  Had it gone through the arch of the aorta or auricles of the heart, his patient would not have lived 60 seconds.

A witness to the shooting marvels at the freak coordination of all these impediments.  Had Schrank’s slug penetrated the pleura, T.R. would have bled to death internally in a matter of minutes.  “There was no other place on his body so thoroughly armored as the spot where the bullet struck.”   As if by some miracle, T.R. survives the attempt, and actually recovers quickly.

At times Schrank claims he is penniless.  Other times, he claims he had inherited Manhattan real estate from his father, a Bavarian immigrant.  Whatever his finances, he has enough cash to purchase a gun and pursue T.R. for two weeks through the Deep South and on across the Midwest --- intending but failing to shoot him in at least five cities before Milwaukee.  “I intended to kill Theodore Roosevelt, the third termer.  I did not want to kill the candidate of the Progressive Party.”

Schrank later claims that he was neither insane nor a socialist.  T.R. is inclined to agree.  “I very gravely question if he has a more unsound mind than Eugene Debs (the Socialist Party candidate for the presidency).”

Pleading guilty to T.R.’s shooting, with qualifications, Schrank is committed to the hospital for the criminally insane and remains there until his death on the anniversary of his first vision of the ghost of McKinley thirty-one years earlier.

-Michael D'Angelo

(Editor's note: The fourth and final segment closes this multi-part series with the results of the 1912 general election --- and its aftermath.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Blueprint for America's Future (Part Two)

(Editor's note:  This is the second segment in a multi-part series titled A Blueprint for America's Future. The underlying theme highlights the iconic presidential election of 1912, which some believe contains the true blueprint for America's future. The first segment traces Theodore Roosevelt's exit from the Republican Party and the foundation of his new "Progressive" or "Bull Moose" Party.)

Many times, over the years, T.R. compares the machinery of politics to the workings of a kaleidoscope. 
At times brilliant colors and harmonious patterns can be seen, sometimes carefully shaken into shape, sometimes forming of their own accord.  At the slightest hitch, however, brilliance and harmony can fall into jagged disarray, leaving the viewer with clashing colors, shapes and shafts of impenetrable black.

T.R. knows that his third party candidacy is a long shot and that he would not likely win.  But he sees it as his duty.  “My public career will end next election day,” T.R. tells a visitor in the days preceding his new party’s own nominating convention.

He asks his wife to say what she thought of his situation.  A house guest relates that “She was quite radiant with trust and affection, as she expressed her faith that the path through honor to defeat was the one to take.”

T.R.’s transformational embrace of faith cause critics to suggest at the Progressive National Convention in August 1912 that Progressivism is a religion.  He nurtures the theme that he is engaged in Holy Work.

Familiar church hymns ring through the course of the proceedings, which are also held in Chicago, as the delegates sing and chant, surging the religiosity in the hall to the point of delirium.

Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

In his acceptance speech for the party nomination, entitled A Confession of Faith, T.R. repeats what he had stated earlier at the Republican National Convention, to a tumultuous response: “I say in closing what in that speech I said in closing: We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord.”  A New York Times reporter writes that “It was not a convention at all.  It was an assemblage of religious enthusiasts.”

The mocking prophecy of Eliju Root, US Senator, R-NY, and formerly T.R.’s Secretary of War and then Secretary of State, appears to have been fulfilled: “He aims at a leadership far in the future, as a sort of Moses and Messiah for a vast progressive tide of a rising humanity.”

Jane Addams, a proponent of women’s suffrage, says that “I have been fighting for progressive principles for thirty years.  This is the biggest day in my life.”  The convention commits the Progressive Party to a vast program of social, economic and environmental reform.  T.R. has made Progressivism a “moral” issue, entitled to use a superlative when he calls the program “much the most important public document promulgated in this country since the death of Abraham Lincoln.”  The Progressive motto is to be “Pass prosperity around.”

In his vision of a moral society, ethically based, T.R. poses that the

Material progress and prosperity of a nation are desirable chiefly so long as they lead to the moral and material welfare of all good citizens.  Just in proportion as the average man and woman are honest, capable of sound judgment and high ideals, active in public affairs, --- but, first of all, sound in their home, and the father and mother of healthy children whom they bring up well, --- just so far, and not farther, we may count on civilization a success.

The soldier, or ordinary citizen, has to have the right stuff in him.  He has to have “the fighting edge, the right character.  The most important elements in any man’s career must be the sum of those qualities which, in the aggregate, we speak of as character.”

We must have the right kind of character --- character that makes a man, first of all, a good man in the home, a good father, and a good husband --- that makes a man a good neighbor.  You must have that, and, then, in addition, you must have the (right) kind of law and the (right) kind of administration of the law which will give to those qualities in the private citizen the best possible chance for development.

It comes as no surprise that the platform of the Progressive Party of 1912 amounts to a re-drafting of T.R.’s New Nationalism program.  It is not matched again for initiative and specificity in detail until the platform of the Democratic Party in 1964.

-Michael D'Angelo

(Editor's note: The third segment in this multi-part series takes the reader on a spiritual journey, as events --- which may only be described here as psychic --- unfold in the weeks leading up to the 1912 general election ...).