Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day U.S.A.

Today is the last day Americans can cast ballots for the 2012 general election.

As I avoid all media reports since they only irritate me right now, I am instead thinking about a conversation that Gore Vidal reported (in Inventing a Nation) having had with John Kennedy one fine day.  Kennedy asked how a "backwards country like this, with only three million people, could have produced the three great geniuses of the 18th century - Franklin, Jefferson and Hamilton.

Excellent question.  Allow me to update it.  How is it that an advanced country like this, with nearly 315 million people, does not seem to have produced even one political genius on the same level as a Franklin, Jefferson or Hamilton in the early 21st century?

And that is all I will say about it.

For those of  you who would like a 20-minute break away from the election madness may I suggest this excellent Ted talk by Michael Sandel who has some suggestions for how to raise the level of discourse in American politics.  Useful regardless of who wins tomorrow. And one of his examples is same-sex marriage which ties in nicely with yesterday's Flophouse post.





3 comments:

greg said...

How is it that an advanced country like this, with nearly 315 million people, does not seem to have produced even one political genius on the same level as a Franklin, Jefferson or Hamilton in the early 21st century?
We did and still do, but we tend to reject them based on what major media and ruling elites tell us. Dr. Ron Paul was one of them that offered real hope, and those in charge (media and the elites) told us he was nuts, so we all rejected him. What Paul said was right in line with what founding fathers advocated.

Anonymous said...

Hello Victoria
Great post, great TED talk, great food for thought. Michael Sandel is one of my favorites.
I believe that elected representatives, anywhere in the world, would greatly benefit from some training, it could include instruction in philosophy and sociology - as starters.
I also believe that money in politics is the root of all evil. It will be a great day when America, instead of telling everyone what to do, sets an example by removing the corruption from the US political system, starting with lobbyists, PACs, et al.
When is the last time that a grass roots movement, with no money, has been successful in making a fundamental change to a political system. I guess it might be the Arab spring? The indignados in the Western world seem to have gone no where fast.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Greg, to the extent that Ron Paul wants what I want - a modest little Republic that minds its own business- I am definitely one of his fans.

@anonymous, I think another reader made the point that philosophy is actually pretty useful. Couldn't agree more.

I must be breathing too deeply the air around the chateau here because some days democracy just seems to damn hard (not to mention beyond most of us) and I wonder if we shouldn't just restore the monarchy. And yes for Americans that would mean pledging allegiance to the Queen. :-)