My main philosopher-king man KA has put forth a hypothesis, based on virtue ethics theory, that John Edwards is the best candidate for President. While I think that Edwards is an excellent candidate (and I have posted about him previously, and have given him my hard-earned money), I think that perhaps there is a slightly better candidate from a virtue ethics perspective.
I speak of Senator Barack Obama.
While Keith correctly identifies the corruption inherent in the current system and John Edwards’ rhetoric challenging it, I believe the aspirations expressed therein are slightly off point. Politics is the “art of the possible” (Otto Von Bismarck), not the art of the ideal. The ideal would be the complete overhaul (overthrow?) of the current corrupt political system, replaced by a totally public-financed system that serves to elect the best philosopher-king, reigning over a thoroughly enlightened electorate.
The possible is something different altogether. The possible, although still highly aspirational, is the overcoming of the Bush Administration’s Manichaean divide of the world, and of our own nation, into those “with us” and those “agin’ us”, those on the side of “good” and those who align with the “evildoers”. It’s just not that simple. There aren’t white-hat good guys and black-hat bad guys (not outside of country music and talk radio stations). The world is a palette of shades of gray. However, this Administration has taken advantage of (and played upon) our fears to create a dichotomy between the good and the bad, between the virtuous and the evildoers, between the red states and the blue states.
I believe that Barack Obama is the best candidate to bridge that divide. He himself embodies many divides in our nation, being a multi-ethnic son of an immigrant father. He understands and speaks the languages of the streets and of the Ivy League, of the Washington power broker and the community organizer. Obama calls us all to our better angels, to become our best selves. And is that not the heart of virtue ethics?
Submitted for your consideration is an excerpt from Candidate Obama’s 2004 keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. If you can read this without emotion, then go vote for someone else.
It is that fundamental belief: I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.
E pluribus unum: "Out of many, one."
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us -- the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of "anything goes." Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there’s the United States of America.
The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States: Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an "awesome God" in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
In the end -- In the end -- In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or do we participate in a politics of hope?
If you go vote for Edwards, I won’t begrudge you one bit. But I would like for you to consider Obama also. At the very least, find a candidate in whom you can believe and place your faith and trust. Don’t shy away; don’t simply vote for the supposedly “inevitable” candidate. Choose wisely.