Mood, and a thought on Partisanship

I am not in a bad mood. I am in an awful mood. I’m doing my best to remember that “I’m better than this,” but I need to get out, get my mind off where it wants to go.

I hate how my past defines me, let me put it that way. And I hate that I let this happen.

I’m going out to see The Dark Knight again in a few minutes, although Woody Allen’s latest has me tempted.

In other news – Josh and I discussed briefly yesterday a way to fix partisanship in this country, for both Left and Right. We really do need a crop of better leaders, but that isn’t going to happen as long as people believe that politics is a waste of time and not something in which one can be educated. People kinda have to believe this because of democracy’s reliance on equality. But they also believe it because they think “business” and “science” are real subjects, and learning how to use words wisely and approach issues carefully is merely a matter of temper.

Our thought is that if every College Democrat and Republican organization ran a group blog, not one venting about national issues or even issues of school governance, but just about day-to-day life, that would go a long way to advancing the state of politics in this country. People would realize that politics starts with the day-to-day. In college life, for example, it starts with dorms that are broken down and funding for student groups to how things are taught in class. There needn’t be any of the activism like the Right insists on where the sensationalist stupidies of academia are brought forth. What matters more is that people realize what everyday problems they’re confronting, and put forth the problem and try to work with others to solve it.

Partisanship isn’t “there’s some big corporate entity with officers and candidates called the party,” and you decide whether you join it or not. It’s really more like this – we have friends and interests. We join together to voice our interests together. When we get good at identifying and solving each other’s problems justly and efficiently, we’ve become good at governance in a way, and have something to share with the body politic at large. While types of governance have qualitative distinctions between them – i.e. the head of a household is not fit to be mayor on that experience alone, no matter how large the household – we can say a form of reasoning develops by taking rule seriously that ultimately is far more useful than ignoring politics altogether until it is time to vote.

What I’d like to do is run a group blog that highlighted the best of the college blogs, and attracted people’s attention to the state of the academy today. For whether the academy teaches politics properly or not, it does generate people who come out with serious amounts of education and contacts. Those people are going to rule, whether we like it or not. The issue is whether or not they can rule with any sort of tact and grace, an awareness of how to express themselves and an ability to allow others to communicate with each other better.


  1. In the Military they have this great Equalizing thing called Boot Camp. This is where you are broken down by removing all vestiges of “ME” from your persona. You become one part in a giant machine.
    This makes for a efficient machine, However do we not look for leaders based on Individualism?

  2. @ David – before the United States, the models of Republicanism were Venice and – most importantly – Sparta.

    The idea behind Sparta was that nearly every Spartiate, in addition to being a top-notch warrior with the discipline to stand in the phalanx, could organize and train nearly any body of ragtag wimps into an efficient fighting force. It goes without saying that in addition to being crass and not terribly bright, the Spartiates weren’t much in terms of individuals except killing machines.

    Laws exist to make us all the same, to put us on the same page. That’s why formal “rights” are very weird and self-contradictory instances of law – they express things that cause us to differ, except that in political society difference can only go so far, always. If you really wanted to accentuate difference, you’d try to keep law of any sort away from another’s way of doing things. Laws implicitly invoke something Spartan as a standard – there may be no militarism as explicit, but there is a sense “this is our way of doing things, it must be defended.”

    It does seem like we elect leaders based on our individual preference, and their cult of personality that tells us they’re an individual. But “cult of personality” is all you need to read into to realize what a shallow understanding of freedom this can be.

    Sparta lasted as a republic something like 800 years, I think. They weren’t free in our sense, but were masters of the Greek world for a long time. Sparta never had walls – no city dared to mess with them.

  3. Quite obviously, whatever we do in terms of forging a better approach to politics has to respect our difference, and probably emphasize speech and deliberation as opposed to the arts of war.

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