Prosperity–but at What Price?

Neville Chamberlain

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at Heston upon his return from Munich

On the afternoon of September 30, 1938, a Lockheed 14 Super Electra, piloted by Victor Flowerday, touched down at the Heston Aerodrome west of London. Among the small group of passengers returning from Munich, Germany that day was Great Britain’s Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. The large crowd that had gathered at the airfield cheered Chamberlain’s announcement that both Germany and England had agreed to never again go to war. That ill-fated pact, known as the Munich Agreement, promised all of Europe a new peace and prosperity that would never come to pass. And less than a year after the Prime Minister’s  Downing Street declaration of “Peace for our time”, the dive bombing Stukas of Hitler’s Luftwaffe would lay waste to the city of Poland.

While initially it may have seemed that the British population as a whole celebrated Chamberlain’s efforts at ensuring peace, there were many who viewed it at as an attempt by Germany to lull the English people into a state of blissful status quo as the forces of fascism, ever lurking in the shadows, awaited their marching orders from Berlin. At the forefront of those who who spoke out against the Munich Agreement was the former First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill. The man who would eventually replace Chamberlain as prime minister viewed this bargain with Hitler as a flawed policy of appeasement that would inevitably lead England into war, and a crisis of conscience for all those that believed in the rights of self-determination and democracy.

Today. as Americans head off to the polls, we are facing our own crisis of conscience. We must ask ourselves at what price prosperity?  For the sake of some promised growth and financial security, that, quite frankly, no president or congress can guarantee, will we ignore the plight and suffering of those beyond our borders?  Will we fail to address those issues and concerns that threaten our environment? Will we allow our fellow citizens to face financial ruin as a result of inaccessible and unaffordable healthcare? And will we continue to tolerate the blatant disregard of ethical behavior by those in power in exchange for a few more jobs in some coal mine?

Our values and principles hang in the balance. As Americans, if we do not stand for something, we will eventually stand for nothing–other than, perhaps, the national anthem at some meaningless Sunday afternoon football game

Mind you, I am not making a case for either the blue wave or a red tide at this particular political crossroads. If water is to be the metaphor of choice, I’m putting my faith in the constant stream. That stream in which swims the vast majority of Americans who are reasonable, rational, responsible, and always ready to work toward the common good in spite of our differences and varying opinions.

For the most part, historians have not looked upon Neville Chamberlain favorably. But there are a handful who believe that his compromise with the Germans in 1938 bought England the time it needed to rearm and make ready for the unavoidable conflict that lie ahead. And for whatever reason, the wiser minds at Morrison Bowmore Distillers did opt to include Mr. Chamberlain in their commemorative Prime Ministers series of very fine 15-year old blended Scotch whiskies.

So as I watch the incoming returns on this election eve, I will raise a glass to the well-intentioned efforts toward peace put forth by Mr. Chamberlain, but my glass will be filled with a spirit drawn from the well of Mr. Churchill.

“If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another.”    Winston Churchill

Mr. Churchill

Mr. Churchill

 

Mr. Chamberlain

Mr. Chamberlain

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

 

 

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The Road Less Traveled

Maloney's Pub - Hammondsport, New YorkAs a nation we always have the choice to travel to the right or to the left. But the true path to our collective wellbeing is probably somewhere in the middle–especially if there is a good tavern at the fork in the road”    Chris Poh 

The midterm election of 1962 was supposed to be a good year for Republicans, but then that pesky communist from Kalinovka Nikita Khrushchev decided to plant nuclear missiles in Fidel Castro’s patch of the Caribbean. And the toughness and leadership skills shown by John Fitzgerald Kennedy skyrocketed his job approval, and saved the political careers of many vulnerable Democrats that rode back into office on the coattails of their Commander-in-Chief.

Jupiter Ballistic MissileEven as a young boy of seven, I can remember those ominous warnings issued by the President, Walter Cronkite and whatever nun I had in second grade, as they stood in front of maps that showed just how short the route from America to Armageddon really was. In spite of the fear, paranoia, distrust and time spent under my desk in preparation for the nuclear winter—I really grew to like looking at maps. Today I still prefer my Rand McNally Atlas over the latest GPS technology. I like the overview of the journey, the chance to consider where I’ve been and where I hope to go. I also like being able to carefully consider all the possibilities before choosing which road to take—as opposed to being told which way to go by some voice coming out of an electronic box. When it comes to making political decisions I chart a similar course of action.

Unfortunately, most voting Americans use a form of GPS when deciding who will be worthy of holding elected office. The angry and the anxious, with little thought of what lies ahead, mindlessly listen to voices coming out of a box that tell them to turn right or left in order to reach their destination—and then wonder why they always wind up back at the same place from which they started. Regrettably, those lacking the benefit of a good map and a functioning compass are again about to determine the direction of the country. And this is simply because not enough of our citizens show up to vote.

If our politicians were assured that most Americans would come to the polls, they would be more prone to compromise and craft policies that would better serve the majority. But as long as our elected officials in Washington are facing the possibility of being unelected by a minority of angry extremists on either side of the political divide, they will continue to pander to their base, and to only serve the needs of those contributing special interests.

While the entire staff at American Public House Review is unanimously opposed to reinstating the closure of taverns on Election Day, we want to remind our readers to exercise their civic responsibility. Before you beat a path to your favorite bar spend some time on the road less traveled—find your way to the voting booth.

Posted by: Chris Poh

A Unique Strategy for Influencing the Midterm Elections

Considering the fact that the midterm elections are less than three months away, the atmosphere so far during this summer’s congressional recess is surprisingly calm. Perhaps this is because so many Democrats and moderate Republicans are considering limiting their public exposure to mostly “by invitation” events only–thus avoiding the terror of the town hall.

For those traveling Tea Party types that were hoping to influence the midterm elections by voicing their displeasure at local public meetings, might I suggest another strategy? Simply do what Robert E. Lee did when he wanted to help unseat a number of incumbents during the 1862 midterm elections–Invade Maryland.

In the current issue of American Public House Review we explore a bit of Civil War history while raising a few pints of Old Dominion at the Secret Six Tavern in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  

Posted By: Chris Poh

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