Tuesday, 9 February 2016

cabbages and kings

From Wikipedia’s On this Day… sidebar, I learnt that not only is this the anniversary of anniversary of the congressional selection (contingent presidential election) of John Quincy Adams in 1825, when a three-way split among the united Democratic-Republican party, the Whigs and the National Republicans resulted in no candidate a majority in the Electoral College, it also marks the date when young Alessandro Ludovisi, styled Gregory XV, was elevated to pope in 1621, not through the familiar conclave but rather by acclamation—a voice vote. Although sometimes agreement is still measured by yeas and nays, Pope Gregory was the last pontifex vetted in this way. I wonder how public versus a secret ballot sits with one’s constituency. President Adams was not America’s only president to bypass the conduits of the democratic-process (such as it is—creating the modern day two party system out of Republican-backers who supported the defeated Andrew Jackson and the sore-winner Democrats) and the majority of politics (sacred and profane) take place in smoke-filled rooms.
The origin of that term is sourced to a meeting in Chicago’s Blackstone Hotel (Room 404, as when someone attempts to make some spurious connections) when the Republican National Convention failed to produce viable candidate to block Woodrow Wilson’s heir-apparent and Warren G Harding was tossed in the ring, also under special-appointment. Weary from WWI and more resolved to take a stance of not being World Police, Harding’s regime was popular at the time though his cronyism and involvement in the Teapot Dome Scandal (over bribes from the oil industry which was the most notorious until Watergate) rather tarnished history’s opinion of him. With only a reign of two years, Pope Gregory was not able to accomplish a lot—other than making the penalties for witchcraft a little less severe and reserving capital-punishment for those proven to be in league with the Devil and instigating reforms in the way papal elections proceed, giving us the ceremony and closed-door meetings that we recognize today.