Saturday, September 06, 2008

The People's Choice

Recently my Grandmother had a slight stroke.  While she, my mother, aunt and I watched the news overhead, the controversy concerning McCain's vice presidential choice, Sarah Palin, and her pregnant daughter began.

Now I do not believe in the democratic process.  As Rousseau said of the English, that they are free to elect their leaders but after that go back to being slaves, can just as well be applied here.  However, I am liberal in my social view's and the hypocrisy over this matter sickens me.  At once they came to Palin's defense, my Grandmother accusing the Democrats of just trying to nit pick.  But this is no small matter.  To cry fowl when a major part of your policy is used against you is not an injustice.  This is just another example of the Republican double standard, of "it's okay for me because I'm rich, but not for you because you're poor" school of thinking. 

This episode has also given me an excuse to discuss politics in general.  I believe many would agree with me if I said it doesn't matter what form of government we live under, so long as those who govern are wise and virtuous.  There have been several enlightened dictatorships in history (Marcus Aurelius comes first to mind) and, though there are those who will argue that despotism is despotism no matter the quality of the despot, I thought it more productive to look at the other major flaw in this idea.

Plato said that unless kings are philosophers or philosophers kings there would never be true harmony in the state, and he set about his little experiment in engineering a society that could pop out worthy citizens.  I think I am more partial to the Confucian ideal of setting a good example and hoping others will follow, but the problems of producing worthy and reliable rulers remains the same.  What to do?  If we cannot go forward perhaps we should go back.  If we cannot guarantee a virtuous autocrat perhaps we should instead reverse that power, give even greater liberty to the individual and circumscribe the power of the state.

Now I am beginning to sound like a true conservative, but that is the crux of the matter.  Every political view, liberal, conservative, moderate etc. is divided into two positions, one social the other economic.  One can be liberal socially but conservative fiscally, and any combination there of.  It is no wonder such confusion reigns in the minds of many when they see the flaws but are uncertain how to fix the system.  Perhaps there is no perfect government as there is no perfect person.  Each has its pros and cons.  This does not answer the question (as I had no presumption of doing so) but it does lay out the complexities of a branch of human endeavor whose great ideal has always been to help us get along together and work for the common benefit of all.  Thus, in that sense at least, any choice of government remains the people's choice. One can only hope they choose well.