What We Talk About When We Talk About Politics

I feel like people are turned off to the idea of “politics”, because it makes them think of red vs. blue arguments, polling percentages, talking heads on television using dronespeak to discuss policy, and a certain nitpicky squabbling that’s become the de facto standard for how political discourse is conducted in America. But I think they wouldn’t be turned off if we remembered we were supposed to be exchanging ideas on how we should govern ourselves, and our foundations and philosophies which is what we should actually be doing. It seems like in America we don’t even get into those things when it comes to governance– how we do things, why we do things, if there’s a better way to do things, what our goals are, etc. If you don’t have a solid foundation of principles, how can you be sure anything you are doing is the right thing?

I feel like the media has successfully shifted the nature of the dialogue from “How can we best govern ourselves?” to “What’s wrong with those people governing us?” A subtle difference, maybe, but a significant one.

Wait a minute, I think I almost got this

I was researching Catharine Macaulay for my 18th century British Literature class when I came across this.

“Macaulay argues that it was the failure to guard against the growth of inequalities in wealth that led to the downfall of the Roman republics.

Had the Agrarian been ever fixed on a proper balance, it must have prevented that extreme disproportion in the circumstances of her citizens, which gave such weight of power to the aristocratical party, that it enabled them to subvert the fundamental principles of the government, and introduce those innovations which ended in anarchy. Anarchy produced its natural effect, viz. absolute monarchy (Macaulay 1767, 35).”

“Failure to guard against the growth of inequalities in wealth”… Hmm… Why does that sound familiar?