Aristotle and the Elections
November 3, 2016
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“Now it is best that there should be a public and proper care for such matters; but if they are neglected by the [political] community it would seem right for each man to help his children and friends toward virtue.”
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

Elections can make you wonder about where you live. It can be frightening to share so little in common with neighbors and fellow-citizens; and, especially, with those who rule over you.

Aristotle has a very specific recommendation as to one thing we can and must do in a degenerating political climate. I reflect on this here at First Things.

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3 comments

  1. John,

    I just finished reading your article at First things. I wish to thank you. It was excellent! Amanda and I have recently opened our home on a bi-weekly basis for a gathering of young persons (some Christian, some not) wherein I am giving a series of presentations aimed at showing the broad explanatory strength and attractiveness of a Catholic account of reality. The interest in the subject matter has been wonderful so far. Striving for the good, the true and the beautiful where we live and act can and will succeed – even if we must take the long view. Thanks again for a timely account of the way forward.

    – Ray Stamper

    1. Ray,
      It is very encouraging to hear this. What a great way to open your home. I am sure that God will bless your efforts and that it will be a source of blessings for all involved. Thanks so much for sharing this. With all best wishes, John

  2. I think your point goes even farther than you have suggested here.

    The conventional way of thinking about elections is that it is the means by which the free and equal citizens of the polity have their say in how we are governed. That conventional way of thinking is wrong.

    In fact, during our national elections the polity presents to us a very narrow range of choices, all of which are conventional liberal choices within the governing liberal consensus. The function of the election is to get as many people as possible to make an act of personal allegiance to – a vote for – that governing liberal consensus. In so doing, and by turning it into a dramatic battle of supposed opposites, the liberal polity makes other philosophies of governance unthinkable.

    A large-scale change literally *can’t* come from the top down, yet that seems to be all people focus on these days. It absolutely *must* grow up out of those healthy communities you speak of.

    (Quote taken from link)