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Port: Amid the chaos, something to be thankful for

It can be easy, amid the blaring sensationalism of cable news, the omnipresent rancor of social media, and the overweening cynicism so many today think of as wisdom, to lose an important perspective.

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Many of the protestors there say it is more than just the firing that upsets them. They say it is all an attempt to silence people.
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MINOT, N.D. — As we begin the week that encompasses the Thanksgiving Day celebrations, I know that many of you are feeling anxious about the state of our nation.

You're feeling beat down.

Discouraged.

I feel it too. So let us turn to history for an analgesic.

In 1921, Republican Warren G. Harding was inaugurated as president of the United States.

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It was then, like now, an uneasy time in our country with some themes that will seem familiar to Americans living in 2021.

We were emerging from the horrors of World War I. The fallout from the strident reforms of the Progressive Era, including alcohol prohibition, wracked the country. The national economy was in a deep recession. Labor unrest was widespread. There were riots around racial issues in Chicago and other communities. Violent socialists launched attacks on Wall Street. The Spanish flu epidemic, which had afflicted America since 1918, had just finally died out the previous spring.

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Into this environment doddered Harding who pitched Americans on a "return to normalcy."

The voters bought it. Harding won the 1920 national election with the largest margin of victory in the popular vote in American history.

(We must discount James Madison's 1820 win, at the height of the Era of Good Feelings , because he essentially ran unopposed. Yes, you pedants, John Quincy Adams did get one Electoral College vote, but it was cast by a faithless elector ).

Harding, historic landslide victory in hand, promptly launched himself into what is widely considered to be the worst presidency in our nation's history. He died before he completed a full term, and soon after news broke of the corruption the enveloped his administration.

His secretary of the interior took kickbacks for steering oil leases in the Teapot Dome scandal. His attorney general took bribes from bootleggers. His Veterans Bureau director profited from inflated construction contracts and the fire sale of surplus supplies from the just-completed war. Revelations of Harding's infidelity haven't helped his historical standing.

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Harding was, at best, a dope who was duped by the hucksters he brought into his administration. At worst, he was a willing participant in the corruption. Either way, Americans felt betrayed by the man to which they had turned to lead them out of a dark time.

It was a terrible beginning to the 1920s, but that's not what we should remember.

What we should remember is that we survived it.

It can be easy, amid the blaring sensationalism of cable news, the omnipresent rancor of social media, and the overweening cynicism so many today think of as wisdom, to lose an important perspective.

Ours is a resilient country, founded on ideas and principles that have stood the test of time.

We've endured bad times before. This, too, shall pass.

That, my friends, is something worth being thankful for.

To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com .

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Rob Port

Rob Port column mug sig fsa.jpg
Rob Port

Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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