I’m reading Aristotle’s “The Politics” right now for a class on Democratic Theory. In Book 3, Chapter 4 he writes something that I found to be quite applicable to current American politics and specifically to the Democratic reaction to Barack Obama’s victory in the elections. In this chapter Aristotle writes that:
Hence this too has been rightly said–that it is not possible to rule well without having been ruled. Virtue in [each of these] cases is different, but the good citizen should know and have the capacity both to be ruled and to rule, and this very thing is the virtue of a citizen–knowledge of rule over free persons from both [points of view].
This spoke to me in realtion to the estatic reaction among Democrats to Obama’s election. Suddenly a mass of people has decided that they need to be involved in politics, community service, and day to day political news. Certainly part of this is due to the ever-worsening economic situation, but it seems undeniable that part of it is also a result of Democrats now being the “rulers” to use Aristotle’s language. What I wonder is where was all of this political activism during the past 8 years? There were certainly just as important of decisions being made during this time, but instead of being involved in the process the mass of Democrats seemed to be largely apathetic to the daily actions of George Bush.
To me a disturbing number of Democrats, perhaps epitomized by some of those currently serving in Congress, are happy to extol the virtues of the American political system when they control the presidency and both houses of Congress, but once the other party gains control they revert right back to decrying how disastrous that party is for America and how broken the system is. This kind of hypocrisy just doesn’t sit well with me and is one of the main reasons why I largely abstained from voting for candidates in this past election: they’re all equally hypocritical and despicable.