- By Adam Allen
The play, “Hamilton,” strongly relates to current U.S. political situation
The hit Broadway play, and now movie, “Hamilton,” delivers brilliant performances, but perhaps more interesting are the lessons useful for today’s political environment.
One of the most important relationships in the play is between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Their relationship shows the overt juxtaposition of inaction and energy in politics and governing. This contrast is expanded through the songs, “Wait for It,” and “Non-Stop,” where Burr’s apathetic attitude toward taking political stances and Hamilton’s ethic and political energy are demonstrated. What is important to note is the variance in outcomes for the men; Hamilton becoming possibly the most important founder to never become president and Burr relegated to a footnote in history as his murderer.
“I’m not standing still; I am lying in wait,” Burr said in “Wait for It.”
Today’s politics are disfigured by a mass of Burr-like characters, with congress locked in constant legislative battles that are only escalated by deadlocks with the White House. The popularity of politicians who run on little to no concrete platform, are malleable beyond recognition and seem to be the norm among the many elected officials. Particularly as the population base of the election grow.
CCU senior, and avid “Hamilton” fan, Ariana Monroe said, “Later in the play, Hamilton endorses Jefferson strictly because ‘Jefferson has beliefs and Burr has none,’ with the background choir singing ‘we know it's lose-lose.’ Both of these phrases relate heavily to today's society.”
Another important and timeless aspect of politics that “Hamilton” highlights, is the division inherent in our bipartisan system. There are several examples of this verbal warfare throughout the play, specifically Hamilton’s feuds with Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, and of course our friend Aaron Burr (which ended in bloodshed). Hamilton’s uncivil discourse with Jefferson, Madison, and Burr fell along the partisan lines of the Federalist versus the Democratic-Republicans.
“At the end of ‘Hamilton,’ Burr sings the song, ‘The world was wide enough.’ In this song there is a lyric that goes as follows, ‘I should've known the world was wide enough for Hamilton and me,’” said Monroe in reference to Hamilton’s political lessons. “Burr learned this lesson once it was too late. I believe it is an important lesson that we, as Americans, can learn before it is too late. As the political spectrum continues to deeply divide, we should all take a step back and understand the world is wide enough for everyone to have different ideas and live in harmony.”
These political rivalries were often extremely contentious with open insults, character defamation, and demonization of policies. In fact, these public disagreements were much less civil than those of today. With this in mind, we can salvage some hope for the current political environment that has dissolved into the name-calling and fiery absolutist language it is. We have founders who worked together to frame American Republicanism and established the structures to enforce it. If we could produce much nastier rhetoric than what we are currently witnessing, then our modern society, with more developed views of social equality and classical liberalism, can certainly salvage its divided political state.
The play “Hamilton,” is designed to draw many parallels to the modern political structure, and it achieves this end to a strong effect. Now we can only hope that the people who currently sit in power will be inspired by the example of this founder to modify their behavior in a way that produces a more optimal outcome than the current political realities.