Aristotle, Political Platforms and the “Good”

Today was a tremendously difficult day for me.  I’m still in a state of utter disbelief.  I in no way want to be dismissive of anyone’s opinions in this post, but I’d like to comment on our new president-elect’s reliance on “uneducated” voters this election season.  I don’t wish to equate intelligence directly with a college education, though exposure to ideas for a sustained period through university-level reading, viewing and discussion certainly lends itself well to this direction.  I want instead to refer back 2,000 years to Aristotle, the immortal Greek philosopher, and a very brief definition he provides that I think we can learn a lot from in 2016.

Aristotle argues in his Rhetoric how things that are “good,” which he spends quite a bit of time explaining and detailing, are in part defined by “what knowledge and understanding will declare them to be” (26).  Our nation has plenty of uneducated people with substantial intelligences and just as many educated people without it.  There’s a clear statement made, however, when divisions like this one occur.  According to the Pew Research Center:

“In the 2016 election, a wide gap in presidential preferences emerged between those with and without a college degree. College graduates backed Clinton by a 9-point margin (52%-43%), while those without a college degree backed Trump 52%-44%. This is by far the widest gap in support among college graduates and non-college graduates in exit polls dating back to 1980.”

How are we to take it when something like education, a clear and fairly objective indication of “knowledge and understanding” points so clearly toward the losing candidate?  Unless you’re arguing education itself is a misleading signifier, I don’t know what else to say about this implication other than that when things like “knowledge and understanding” point toward one political platform over another, perhaps that is the one an intelligent and well-informed society should be following.

I don’t care about a candidate’s personality nearly as much as I care about their position on public policy.  How is it that we continue denying things like SCIENCE and RATIONALITY in 2016 in regards to climate change?

Do you feel our society well-informed? I could write a book on this, and perhaps I will.

I don’t think a Trump victory is a total loss for progressives in the US, but it reveals quite a bit about our makeup as a society.  Maybe we’ve forgotten the value of things that “knowledge and understanding” seem to place the most value on.



For reference and citation:

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