Before there were lawyers, there were philosophers. The Sophists, given a bad name by Plato, earned their bread by teaching people how to plead their cases in court. There being no professional lawyers in 5th century B.C. Athens, people had to represent themselves. Witness this tale (probably too good to be true) of the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Protagoras:
It is said that [Protagoras] taught a young man on the terms that he should be paid his fee if the young man won his first law-suit, but not otherwise, and that the young man’s first law-suit was one brought by Protagoras for recovery of his fee.
Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, p. 75.
Posted in Books, General Foolishness, Great Thinkers, History, Philosophy, Pith
Tagged ancient greece, ancient philosophy, athens, bertrand russell, greece, greek philosophy, History, history of western philosophy, Philosophy, plato, protagoras, western philosophy
Good people generally do not become president. Good people don’t even want to be president.
Why? Power is one reason. There is nothing dignified or noble about seeking power over other human beings.
Morality in politics is that of Thrasymachus in Plato’s Republic: might makes right. No parent would teach that to their child. It is wrong.
The brutal campaigns are the other reason good people shy away from political careers. A successful campaign for even minor office requires months of the candidate prostrating himself before people he’s never met.
He has to tailor his opinions to match the median voter’s. He dares not follow his own heart or mind; he’d lose for sure.
Good people carry themselves with pride and dignity. The man or woman who voluntarily endures the modern campaign has neither.
Pundits started talking years ago about the notion of the “permanent campaign.” It used to be a cynical joke at the expense of a politician whose powerlust was a little too obvious; proper decorum demanded such impulses to be kept below the surface.
Decorum has declined. People who play for the Red Team are already jockeying to position themselves as their team’s nominee. More than three years from now.
The Blue Team already knows who their nominee will be. And he’s already begun campaigning for a second term. His first has not yet even begun.
The Politico‘s Ben Smith reports that President Obama has even named his permanent campaign: Organizing for America. This is unprecedented.
Smith describes it as a “potentially hugely, uniquely powerful tool, enhancing the muscle of the official who is already the most powerful man in America.”
Power. Always power. Politicians are terrible little creatures. May our children aspire to better things.
“The partisan, when he is engaged in a dispute, cares nothing about the rights of the question, but is anxious only to convince his hearers of his own assertions.”
Posted in Argumentation, Great Thinkers, Philosophy, Pith, The Partisan Mind
Tagged partisan, partisan hack, partisan hackery, partisan politics, phaedo, plato, plato quotations, plato quotes