Friday, March 30, 2012

Dirty Hands

"…good and decent people still enter political life, aiming at some specific reform or seeking a general reformation. They are then required to learn the lesson Machiavelli first set out to teach: “how not to be good.” Some of them are incapable of learning; many more profess to be incapable. But they will not succeed unless they learn, for they have joined the terrible competition for power and glory; they have chosen to work and struggle as Machiavelli says, among “so many who are not good.” They can do no good them- selves unless they win the struggle, which they are unlikely to do unless they are willing and able to use the necessary means…No one succeeds in politics without getting his hands dirty…For sometimes it is right to try to succeed, and then it must also be right to get one’s hands dirty. "

After running across this quote I was struck with a thought. If much of the gridlock we see in our government today is caused by hyper-partisanship, extreme left and right zealots, misrepresentations of the character by members of opposing parties, and a willful disregard for trying to see things from other's perspectives is it possible that all of these things can be not bad in themselves? I don't know the answer to the question but I do believe that it helps to explain the levels of negative emotion we see in our politics today. People believe so strongly that what they stand for is right that they feel justified in painting as crude a caricature of their opponents as necessary to win the hearts and minds of the public. I posit that gridlock is perpetuated today by too many people righteously willing to get 'dirty hands'.
-Roberto Rivera

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