". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Scary Thought

I saw Dick Morris on Bill O'Reilly last night, and he proposed that President Obama may actually be what a lot of people say they want: a leader who truly puts principle above politics. In other words, he cares not about reelection, but looks at this term as his best opportunity to put his permanent stamp on the country by enacting as much of his agenda as he possibly can before he has to run again. If that's the case, there's really no check on him, unless Democrats in Congress decide to cool his jets to protect their own reelection hopes.

"Politics" has become a bad word these days. We hear that we should put "politics" aside and work together to "get things done." Yet I always thought that's what politics was: people--citizens--functioning as a group to accomplish group goals. Sometimes it's a messy process, but it's not inherently bad (except for the fact that people are inherently bad). The etymology of the word is Latin ("politicus") and Greek ("politikos"), both meaning "of citizens and the state." The Greek word is rooted in "polites"--citizen, and "polis"--city. Politics is simply citizens working together to run the city (or organization, church, synod, state or country). So saying that we are going to eschew politics so that we can work together is like saying we are going to stop working together so that we can work together. It makes no sense. (But it sure makes a good campaign slogan.)

Aristotle got it right: "Man is by nature a political animal." We can't escape it, and we shouldn't try. It's how we interact to accomplish things. Otto Von Bismarck said, "Politics is the art of the possible." I think that's a pretty good definition. But considering the human capacity for messing things up, I think I like this one even better, from John Kenneth Galbraith: "Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable."

Oh, that we had choosen the latter in this last election cycle.

2 comments:

Phillip Magness said...

Love that last quote by Galbraith!
Just as I'm sure there are lots of Libertarian and Constitution Party voters (and 'righteous abstainers') who are thinking they'd really prefer the "unpalatable" McCain right now, conservatives have learned in the LCMS that infighting back in 2001 after Barry's death(and the consequant refusal of some to support Wente) has given us the disastorous Kieschnick administration.

"The perfect is the enemy of the good!"

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Yes but Aristotle, in his Nichomachean Ethics wrote that determining morality for the individual is "ethics." and determining what is morality for a group of people is "politics." So man is truly a political animal in that he is concerned with what is right and wrong for his society as a whole. (maybe these are two different quotes and have two different contexts, but it makes sense to me, when Aristotle lived in a true democracy, where all men were equal in making decisions).