Let  me  show my age by revealing that I grew up in a time when there was no penalty for face-masking in football  because there  were no face masks;  when people rode in vehicles called streetcars to baseball games that were played in daylight;   when characters in movies could smoke but not curse;  and when the  ­Number One issue in any election held while Americans were fighting and dying overseas was that Americans were fighting and dying overseas.

That said, please tell this relic of the 20th century how the most heated, divisive mid-term election in a generation could take place with candidates venting their feelings over health care, bailouts, taxes, deficits, immigration, but with no question raised over a decade-old war in which young Americans are fighting and dying.

What’s more, fighting and dying with no clear objective and, as the man in charge of the war, General David Petraeus, tells us, no end in sight. This, says Petraeus, is a war our children will inherit, the same view held by that great sage of the Vietnam era, Henry Kissinger, who warns that Americans “must be prepared for a long struggle.”

Read now, as quoted by Andrew J. Bacevich in “The New American Militarism:  How Americans are Seduced by War,” what another sage observer once said about long struggles:

“Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded,” he wrote, “because it comprises and develops the germ of every other: War is the parent of armies.  From these proceed debts and taxes.  And armies, debts and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. No nation could  preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

The sage in this case?  James Madison, writing in 1795, just two decades after the original Tea Partiers had their say.

Question: Given their professed reverence for the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, wouldn’t you think one or more of this year’s Tea Party candidates might have advanced Madison’s argument?  Or could it be there is less to today’s heated rhetoric about debts, taxes and preserving our freedom than meets the ear?