As Democratic candidates rush to be president, fund raise, attack each other, and make promises — some of which they have no intention of keeping, and some of which are impossible to keep — I think of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.”
Maybe you read this at a time in your distant past, and I’m hoping you philosophers out there will forgive me for simplifying it because I have no intention of writing about the Theory of Forms. I want to summarize the beginning of the allegory and quote from the ending because I have a strong sense that many of us are like those in the cave.
Socrates is teaching a young Athenian named Glaucon and describes a cave in which the inhabitants are chained to a wall and can neither turn their heads to the right nor to the left. All they see are shadows on a wall and those shadows become their sense of reality. Socrates asserts that most human beings cannot leave the cave and are doomed to a life of believing that reality is what they are experiencing. They, thus, are unable to comprehend that virtue and wisdom are the “ true blessings of life.”
Socrates asserts that the philosopher who has left that metaphorical cave is best suited to rule and should be required to rule, to accept leadership positions.
He has low regard for most who seek high positions and maintains, “Whereas if they go to the administration of public affairs, poor and hungry after their own private advantage, thinking that hence they are to snatch the chief good, order that can never be; for they will be fighting about office, and the civil and domestic broils which thus arise will be the ruin of the rulers themselves and of the whole State.”
I’m tired of the fighting about office, the scramble for “their own private advantage” by some persons who in no way are suited to be president. These battles seem to be ongoing, never giving us room to breathe, to handle issues we value such as family, work, spiritual matters.
Some of you might retort, “It’s always been this way, Vivian. Are you just now noticing it?” Because it’s always been this way doesn’t mean we must continue it. I’d suggest that instead of a system that encourages dissension, we have a system where all those seeking to be president sit together and determine who is best equipped to handle the issues that come with the office at that moment in time. They should then put that person forward and let the citizenry decide by popular vote on who should lead the country.
Yes, I’m suggesting doing away with the Electoral College which encourages nasty politics: corruption, favoritism, and expenditure of energy and funds that could best be spent elsewhere.
Some love the nasty politics; some earn their living by engaging in the brouhaha.
I want each political party to put in writing what it stands for and how it plans to make this country better, stronger. Too many wriggle about, engage in double talk, and refuse to answer the questions that are put to them.
I want clarity about national debt, taxes, deregulation, climate change, wildlife preservation, social services, entrepreneurship, racial issues, immigration, criminal justice, the opioid crisis, education, international relations and other issues we face.
We all know what happened to Socrates, the social and moral critic. He was sentenced to death. So be it for those who want to upset the status quo, metaphorically speaking of course.
Vivian B. Blevins. Ph.D., served as a community college president for 15 years in Kentucky, Texas, California and Missouri before returning to Ohio to teach telecommunication employees from around the country and students at Edison State Community College, and to work with veterans. Reach her at 937-778-3815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.