To know your place is a good idea in politics. That is not to say stay in your place or hang on to your place, because ambition or boredom may dictate upward or downward mobility, but a sense of place -- a feel for one's own position in the control room -- is useful in gauging what you should try to do.
The lounge of the main hotel is full of jollity, with large comfortable men sitting in braces; the bar is packed with talkative intellectuals, full of witty disloyalties. The next week the main hotel is suddenly full of dinner-jackets and large hats. The girls are dressed as if for a weekend in the country. When one of the great men of the party comes through, the crowd edges respectfully away, murmuring loyal noises.
In the school of political projectors, I was but ill entertained, the professors appearing, in my judgment, wholly out of their senses; which is a scene that never fails to make me melancholy. These unhappy people were proposing schemes for persuading monarchs to choose favorites upon the score of their wisdom, capacity, and virtue; of teaching ministers to consult the public good; of rewarding merit, great abilities, and eminent services, of instructing princes to know their true interest, by placing it on the same foundation with that of their people; of choosing for employment persons qualified to exercise them; with many other wild impossible chimeras, that never entered before into the heart of man to conceive; and confirmed in me the old observation, that there is nothing so extravagant and irrational which some philosophers have not maintained for truth.
When the doctrine of allegiance to party can utterly up-end a man's moral constitution and make a temporary fool of him besides, what excuse are you going to offer for preaching it, teaching it, extending it, perpetuating it? Shall you say, the best good of the country demands allegiance to party? Shall you also say it demands that a man kick his truth and his conscience into the gutter, and become a mouthing lunatic, besides?
A recent survey was said to prove that the people we Americans most admire are our politicians and doctors. I don't believe it. They are simply the people we are most afraid of. And with the most reason.