By George Stahl
Ever since the world invented politics, there has been a curse on mankind. A participant in this world of constant conflict is known as a politician. From its inception, these politicians have been trying different ways of shutting their opponents up, down, and off. Debates, scandals, blackmail, public scrutiny, and lately, fake news. All of these can be somewhat effective, but the inevitable result is the eventual return or revival of the fallen politico. A few words of apology, an act of contrition, no matter how transparent, and the constituents are willing to welcome the shamed representative back into the fold, and as their leader nonetheless. Blemishes, bruises and accusations all forgiven.
This was not the case, however, when one man attempted to show the people of the United States that the only way to deal with a politician gone bad, or rogue, was a more permanent and absolute method. It was 1804, and former Vice President, Aaron Burr, decided it was time to put a bullet in his long-time rival, and thorn in his side, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. The place was a wooded area just outside of Weehawken, New Jersey. Burr challenged Hamilton to a good old-fashioned duel. Unfortunately, dueling had been outlawed both in New York and New Jersey. New York carried a death penalty with the winner, but New Jersey was a little more lenient, and the punishment not so severe.
Think about this. Dueling was and is illegal. Imagine, anyone who has a dispute with a neighbor, family member, or co-worker could simply slap their offenders face and challenge them to pistols, swords or hand grenades at 50 paces. Obviously, this means of settling matters could not be allowed today. But, what if it were a means available only to politicians to use with their dealings with one another?
It could be sort of like the gladiators, or those French Foreign Legion soldiers that dueled all the time in the 1700s. Congressional duels could be televised and even used to show the people how serious their representatives are about what they do for them. Talk about keeping campaign promises. Maybe as you are reading this, some potential duelers are popping into your minds. That maybe so, but, if this was a political tool, one of the rules for these contests would have to be that we, the people…do not get to pick the participants. That would be up to them and between themselves.
Remember, dueling was illegal. Probably because in most cases, some one was going to die, meaning someone was going to become a murderer. Well, in our non-barbaric society we certainly can’t have that. Imagine what kind of example that would set, if our political leaders were going around offing one another because of not seeing eye to eye on something. Why, we’d have the citizenry doing the same thing! There would have to be a better way for carrying out these duels.
In substitution for swords or pistols, we have paint balls. It is the most humane, most colorful alternative to bullets. The two duelers stand back to back. Someone, a neutral party preferably, counts as they walk 50 paces away from one another, turn and splat. In the case of a double hit, the shot that is determined to likely have caused the most damage is ruled the winner, and the politician with the fatal wound is then forced to leave his office. Not only that, he or she is not eligible to run for politics ever again. Even virtual death is forever.
Realize, that with the implementation of this kind of solution, comes a whole array of activist groups. Mostly started by losing duelers. They will try to stop the painting of innocent law makers. They will call for elderly statesmen and women to be exempt from the practice. They will call the practice unfair and will protest outside of every dueling site where a contest is being held.
Only certain topics will qualify for duel status and some measure of proof on the challenger’s part will need to be presented before the duel is approved by a committee set up to oversee the whole process. Agreed upon dueling sites will need to be built to government regulated specifications and will have to routinely be inspected to make sure nothing has been altered, tampered with or rearranged for one duelers advantage over the other. The equipment used in the duel will have to be regulated to insure fairness is achieved in the confrontation. Paint balls will have to meet the correct specs, the guns will not be allowed to exceed a certain PSI and the safety gear will be to military specifications.
Duels like this are being fought all of the time, right now. There are no paintballs, no CO powered guns and no fifty paces. There are television interviews, newspaper stories and magazine articles instead. Social media has become the mecca for these duels of character assassination and we have been drawn into it and are fascinated by it. With all of the alternative facts floating around out there, and all of the half truths being told by both sides, if the Burr-Hamilton duel took place today, it would just get lost in the social landfill called the internet.