Legislative ‘bluff and bunk’ no different after 100 years

Rufus W. Hitchcock was the publisher of the Hibbing Daily Tribune and a member of the state legislature from Hibbing in 1921.

Just when did politics get so … weird? When did politicians become sociopathic performance artists, huffing their own vapors long past the point of inebriation?

Of course, we begin by blaming the other party, whoever they may be. But then, upon sober analysis, we might conclude that it’s the internet’s fault.

The answer, however, is much more damning. This sort of behavior is very old, so old that a Minnesota State Representative wrote about it 100 years ago. Machiavelli wrote in the 14th Century, after all. We might have to acknowledge that humans, when they get a whiff of power, don’t always behave ideally.

This is the subject of my latest column for the Minnesota Reformer, “Iron Range publisher-legislator often got it right — a century ago.”

I wrote about Rufus W. Hitchcock, the publisher of the Hibbing Daily Tribune, who was also elected to represent Minnesota’s 60th Legislative District, including Hibbing, Chisholm, and Buhl, in 1918. He would write his own legislative reports and they were remarkably unflinching in their candor about the doings of the legislature. One of them describes, with wry humor, the “bluff and bunk” of legislative service. Check it out.

Until I finish “Power in the Wilderness” (now a sprawling manuscript beckoning from another tab here on my computer) you’re just going to have to deal with all the 100 year callbacks in my current writing. I think the results will be worth it, anyway. Though the book may be about Hibbing mayor Victor L. Power, it is really more of a study of power, with a small “p,” and its effects on every layer of society.


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