Political Idealism

Posted on December 7, 2011 by


Having just finished the second Age of Exploration project, I was feeling pretty good about my work. The topics were interesting to me (a benefit of a freer research-based class), but upon discovering the theme of the third project, I became a lot more excited. 17th century political theory. Yes! I thought to myself. And even better, we have a debate.

I’ve always been pretty interested in politics and history (separately), and now we have the opportunity to tie them together. Politics, despite being complicated and invariably messy, are a fundamental aspect of government, regardless of whether it is a democracy, monarchy, or military dictatorship. There will always be some form of politics in any form of government. However, a lot of the politics in the 21st century world revolve around money. Money becomes the driving force behind almost anything, and it ends up dictating our politics. To some extent that makes sense. Government can’t actually get anything done without funding the effort. However, money influences who end up in positions of political power. This ensures that the people who have the richest backing have higher chances of become elected (or in other forms of government, simply seizing power) rather than the people who are best qualified for the job.

“A fool and his money are soon elected.” – Will Rogers
Taken from BrainyQuote.com

On the subject of debating, I’ve always found that debating is an extremely effective method of learning, especially when it comes to topics, such as politics, where there are many answers to one question, and the person who is able to present the clearest and strongest argument reigns supreme. Arguing (albeit in an organized and disciplined fashion) allows the participants to see other sides of the situation, situations that are most likely not black-and-white. However, in forms of government such as democracy, debating can unfortunately lead hours of time-wasting, creating a situation where very little is actually done in a timely fashion. Someone (I don’t remember who) told me about a quote:

“The best form of government is a benevolent dictatorship.” – Unknown

To me this means that democracy, though it gives all parties (theoretically) a say in the policies and the direction of the country, it is a very inefficient form of governing. A dictatorship where the dictator truly cares for the welfare and well-being of his subjects ends up with a situation where things get done quickly because there is no one to oppose the dictator, yet the direction of the country displays a content populace. Sadly, a “benevolent dictatorship” is extremely rare (I can’t think of one off the top of my head), and it relies a lot on the conscience and moral principles of the dictator, not a very stable foundation.

In any case, I’m excited for this project, and I look forward to the discussion/debate

Posted in: Learning, Projects