The Politics of Philosophy in the World’s Oldest Democracy

World's Oldest Democracy America

Obama Versus Romney

by Josh Stewart

Have you ever wondered why America seems so politically divided? Even regarding issues that most Americans would agree on in principle, both sides ultimately end up creating a hostile relationship filled with vitriol and contempt. And while much of what is played out in public can be attributed to political posturing, the rhetoric is most often merely an outward manifestation of the inner ideological conflict. This dichotomy of thought can be divided between those who see the world the way it should be and those who see the world the way it is. Those who see the world the way it should be dream of a society that exhibits certain characteristics and then attempts to implement policies which ostensibly act to create such a place. On the other hand, those who see the world the way it is, acknowledge what they see as a world in which certain inevitabilities cannot be avoided.

The recent tragedy in Aurora, Colorado is a case in point. Regrettably, such events seem to repeat themselves every few years; and what inevitably follows is the reemergence of the divisive gun control debate. On one side, those who see the world the way it should be, envision a society devoid of such horrific events. They must, therefore, find a cause in order to find a solution. As such, they see not simply guns as the perpetrator, but access to guns as the main culprit. So, the logic follows that eliminating—or severely limiting—this action will eventually bring to fruition the outcome they so desire.

Hamilton World's Oldest Democracy

A Past of Polarization: Founder Hamilton fighting his fatal duel with Vice President Aaron Burr (the depiction is inaccurate: only the two “seconds” actually witnessed the duel)

On the contrary, those who see the world the way it is—while they in no way lack empathy or concern for others—understand that no amount of policy formulation or legislative implementation can ever truly counter the free will of human nature—be it the best or worst of it. Furthermore, they accept the reality that laws and regulations are, naturally, only regarded by those who are law abiding. Simply put, criminals do not obey laws.

Arming World’s Oldest Democracy

The outright banning of firearms can only result in the disarming of the innocent. And while the suspect of the Aurora, Colorado tragedy was apparently, up to this point, a law-abiding citizen, the simple fact is that criminals with existing records perpetrate the vast majority of crimes committed with guns. Access to guns by the average citizen can aid them in self-defense in many—if not all—attempts by those whom seek to commit such atrocities.

As so often happens after such horrific events, both sides will rise up and defend their respective positions; and ultimately, nothing of substance will come of it. Both sides will deride their opponents’ opinions as misguided, and the two sides will kowtow toward their respective lobbyists, resentful and indignant.

However, with a better understanding of the two foundational ideologies—namely seeing the world the way it is or the way it should be—perhaps the two sides might actually come to a point somewhere in the middle in an attempt to create a better society while accepting the limits to which policy can have a substantive effect.

US Constitution We the People - World's Oldest Democracy

Also see our World Democracy News page with more information on the global movement.

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