I don’t subscribe to the rosy idea that once not so long ago American politics was a bastion of selflessness and altruism, yet it does seem as though there has been a marked decline over the last two decades of the level of political professionalism and discourse in our society.

What happened?

Infotainment happened, pop culture politics, the fall
of the political parties, and too much democracy in our republic.

Why spend years working on building party ties, meeting people and
developing educated, moderated views that result in the party trusting
you when you can put out a youtube video and tell people just what
they want to hear? Why settle for a politician who you agree with 90%
of the time when you can have someone who promises you that you can
have it all? Why look for the person who can solve the problems we
don’t know about when we can have someone who promises us they’ll make
us feel like we think we did yesterday?

American politics is a reflection of American life, for better and for
worse. With notable exceptions politicians act the way everyone else
does, few rise above the image of those who created them. Sadly,
those true Statesmen have a hard time doing the hard, time and labor
intensive work of government while competing with every clown with a
web cam back home that thinks their fifteen minutes of fame will come
through fifteen second increments of attention.

And as we look at the fruits of our tree we grow angry at what we see,
so we demand that politicians and politics be “closer” through
referendums and term limits. We bind them close through polls,
commentary, and short elections, and if they aren’t sycophantic enough
to our demands we cast them aside in favor of someone who will be.
Rather than leaders, stewards, statesmen or trustees we make them
puppets, and destroy any sense of deliberation and debate that a
republic desperately needs in order to produce wise legislation.

Despite my cynicism I do have faith in America and its people, I
really do. But at the risk of sounding like Glenn Beck, I don’t
expect the quality of politicians or politics to improve until
Americans change, until we stop thinking ourselves so wise as to mock
the educated, until we stop thinking ourselves so exceptional as to be
beyond accountability, until we stop looking for the next Patrick
Henry or Ronald Reagan, but instead look for the next Madison and
Marshall.

We can’t expect politicians to be giants among men when we demand our candidates to think and act “just like me”, while decrying those who achieve more as “elites” who aren’t to be trusted. It doesn’t matter what Washington, Jefferson or Madison would think of politics today, because were they here we wouldn’t trust them anyway. Athens fell to Sparta, and Rome fell to Caesar, but America will fall to the MTV VJ.

*This will probably be adapted later on for a larger piece I’m wanting to write, which will likely be titled (originally enough) “The Rise and Fall of the American Republic.” It’s been on my mind lately and an opportunity came up earlier (after a long day at work that left my mind only partially functional) to talk about it some, with this being a result of that discussion. So, if it looks disjointed, incomplete, sporadic or not terribly well thought out… it probably is. The next one will hopefully be better. Also, read Hel. 13: 25,26

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