The Growler Party

Here’s how Upton Sinclair introduces the judge that confronts Jurgis, one of the central characters in The Jungle:

court system“Pat” Callahan—”Growler” Pat, as he had been known before he ascended the bench—had begun life as a butcher boy and a bruiser of local reputation; he had gone into politics almost as soon as he had learned to talk, and had held two offices at once before he was old enough to vote. If Scully was the thumb, Pat Callahan was the first finger of the unseen hand whereby the packers held down the people of the district. No politician in Chicago ranked higher in their confidence; he had been at it a long time—had been the business agent in the city council of old Durham, the self-made merchant, way back in the early days, when the whole city of Chicago had been up at auction. “Growler” Pat had given up holding city offices very early in his career—caring only for party power, and giving the rest of his time to superintending his dives and brothels. Of late years, however, since his children were growing up, he had begun to value respectability, and had had himself made a magistrate; a position for which he was admirably fitted, because of his strong conservatism and his contempt for foreigners.

Back in the early part of the last century, Growler would definitely have been a Democrat. And an interesting fact is that to this day a politician in Chicago is still likely to be a Democrat. Is it possible that the current Republican Party looks on the corruption and political choke-hold enjoyed by the Democrats back when The Jungle was written as being an ideal state to strive for?

How about those qualifications for a sitting judge—”strong conservatism and …contempt for foreigners.” With qualifications like those, the Republicans probably would have no trouble confirming the candidate.

Maybe rather that referring to the Republicans as Fascists, we should rename them the Growler Party … Mama Grizzly Palin would like that (the open acceptance of violence and corruption would warm her cockles too).

Mama Grizzly

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