A video out of South Korea show legislators fighting for control of the Speaker’s chair. It is an amazing sight.
Of course, such displays show a still maturing political system. There were physical attacks in Congress as we honed our own political system. Perhaps the most famous occurred on May 22, 1856, with a serious caning of one member by another in the Senate. A few days before the attack, Senator Charles Sumner, a Massachusetts antislavery Republican, attacked Democratic senators over slavery and the Kansas question —Stephen Douglas of Illinois and Andrew Butler of South Carolina. He called Douglas a “noise-some, squat, and nameless animal . . . not a proper model for an American senator.” Of Butler he said he had “a mistress . . . who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight—I mean.” This upset Representative Preston Brooks who later grabbed a cane, went into the Senate chamber. Remarkably, Brooks defeated a censure motion. He later resigned and soon thereafter died at age 37. Sumner recovered slowly but served for another 18 years.
Of course, there are some in this country who would not mind a bit more passion and fight in our own legislature. Faced with evidence of an official torture program and criminal acts by our highest officials, leaders from both parties are going about their business in the usual fashion without obvious emotion or serious action.
Not one would want Congress to turn into the WWF like South Korea, but a little more passion and action might be welcomed.
For the video, click here