Red and Blue Roses

I'm still deep in the weeds of the Wars of the Roses, not only reading Alison Weir's excellent history but also Philippa Gregory's series of novels, The Cousins' War. There's something disturbingly familiar about this 15th century story of warring factions that filled fields and rivers with blood.

There are issues of foreign policy, the appointment of incompetent favorites, out-of-control spending, and corrupt county officials. And overall hangs a cloud of uncertain legitimacy. Hereditary monarchy and the church were constitution and capitalism to these people, even to the 47% of the time.

It is, in part, the story of a queen who, blind to the needs of the nation and the far more than 47% of its people who are dependent on peace and stability in order to thrive, will go to any lengths to regain and assure power to herself and her son.

It's also the story of another ambitious family, with its full share of scoundrels and favor-seekers, but one that also sees the advantages of peace and stability to its own well-being. And indeed, whenever that family gains the upper hand, a measure of peace and stability return to the land.

But does the queen see this? At those times when her faction rolls back into London, does she take a bit of advice from her adversaries? Why, no. She does not. She seeks to punish, to treat those she cannot punish with contempt, to rule through fear. She keeps an enemies list. Heads roll.

One can carry analogies too far, but some old battle cries sound eerily familiar. And I can't help but be reminded of today's birthers and make-him-failers. Of a party that sees the possibility of peace and stability brought by its opponents as a threat to their ultimate hegemony. Margaret of Anjou wouldn't let John Boehner help her into her carriage, but if they ever had a chance to sit a while and chat, they might discover kindred souls.