The last couple of days have been a doozy, and I know I have contributed to the discussion about the DNC tangle. I have learned a lot about the Democratic Party governance and that’s good I guess, but the cause of the tangle is not corruption — it’s politics. I offer this excerpt from Chapter 1 of my book RealClout that lays out my definition of politics as an honorable activity that makes our world go round and well worth our time and energy. Even retired.
Politics is a process that decides who gets what, when, and how. Politics can be a difficult, unpleasant process of negotiations between people who don’t like or respect one another. And while everyone has to compromise some, somebody ultimately wins the most, somebody loses the most, and sometimes the loser gets sore and cries, “Politics!”
The philosophers Aristotle and Hannah Arendt described politics as the pacific alternative to war. And indeed, sometimes it is. Every civilization has documented family, tribal, and national political decisions allocating favors or resources that have been followed by murder, warfare, and genocide triggered by the loser’s angry cries of injustice, bias, or dishonesty.
Remember the competition between Cain and Abel? Remember what happened when a prince of Troy ran off with the wife of a Spartan general?
Now while state or county politics may not involve murder or warfare, it has never been described as peaceful. Although blood is not literally shed in the state capital or the county seat, the two are not always quiet places where well-intentioned people calmly negotiate a quick and comforting resolution. Rather, the state capital and county seat are places where differences of opinion (often strongly held) are debated (often vigorously) before being resolved by a vote. Somebody wins. Somebody loses. The majority rules. The minority vows to fight another day. And fight they do, using debating skills, press releases, and parliamentary tactics instead of guns, knives, and military maneuvers.
It was to stifle verbal abuse (including slander) and physical violence (including swordplay) that our country’s Founding Fathers designed formal political protocols to contain and rechannel hostility and rage.
For instance, the rules of legislative debate, which forbid members to address each other directly or by name, force enraged partisans to address remarks to the presiding officer, indirectly referencing opponents only by district or town. Today, wit and sarcasm are the only permitted weapons, and both are used to sharpen speeches with phony declarations of collegiality during the most heated and antagonistic debate.
Madame Speaker, I’m sorry to say that the previous speaker’s lack of good taste, good sense, and good humor was only exceeded by his lack of good arguments to support a silly little proposal.
Mr. President, I stand to respond to my colleague, the lady from Cobb County, to say that her persuasive and articulate arguments cannot make up for her lack of accurate facts, her inability to construct a logical argument, and her total disregard for the essential truths taught in the Bible that she so self-righteously waved before this podium.
Now don’t you think that this kind of civil debate is vastly preferable to fistfights and swordplay? At least more entertaining? How about less stupid? Less bloody?
You can download the whole Real Clout free here –