Tyranny Essay, Research Paper
At its birth, the United State’s most pressing concern was to piece together a constitution to secure their floundering liberties and unite the states under a common rule of justice for all. From the Constitution’s elaborate system of checks and balances, one gets the sense the framers seemed very apprehensive about people and their politicians possibly using the government’s power tyrannically. This great problem did not cease when they penned the hopeful phrase “more perfect Union” into the Constitution. It continues today with each political decision made based on emotion rather than truth.
Long ago Aristotle identified the same problem. He labeled this passion-based rule as majority tyranny when done by the citizens, and flattery when encouraged by politicians catering to people’s self-indulgent tastes. Today majority tyranny and flattery can be seen in the United States through recent programming on television news, the Clinton/Dole presidential race, and the impeachment trial.
T.V. news has evolved into an Epicurean feast for the eyes and heart: flashing images of burning buildings, humorous blips of politicians caught at awkward times, sobbing mothers beside their dying children. These visual clips Michael Medved, the conservative radio host, identified as undermining the likely hood of people making rational decisions in their government. In a speech given at Hillsdale College in February, Medved placed blame on the television news networks for moving people to self-pity, decreasing their attention span, and increasing their appetite for superficial issues. Although not always the case, attention-grabbing emotion-based stories often are too tempting for producers to omit. As a result the shows content stimulates the public’s emotions and not their brains. This creates a huge problem for the U.S. political system, which depends on a rational, informed public.
On television many Americans viewed the Clinton/Dole debates. Even though viewers were supposed to concentrate on the real issues being presented, many succumbed to the problem becoming rampant through U.S. politics: voters approving of Clinton’s boyish good looks, yet being turned off by Dole’s scowling, weathered face. Instead of examining the rationale and truth supporting each candidate’s platform, any let their emotional instinct cast their ballot.
The most recent example of harmful emotionalism in politics appeared in the infamous Impeachment trial. Fred Barnes pointed out in February that many journalists overwhelmingly attach emotion-triggering words such as “basher,” “rapid,” and “hater” to those on the conservative side. Yet Clinton’s allies appeal to the public’s self-consciousness by emphasizing his privacy. Barnes also mentioned how the media goes so far as to evade the facts and instead questions the motives of those bringing forth those facts, as with the media’s personal attack on Kenneth Starr. These examples show the increasing use of emotion-based tactics by one political party to defeat another which bases their arguments on facts.
Television, political debates, and impeachment trials do not have to rely on emotions. A major problem in politics today is the strong reliance on emotions, a co-dependent relationship Aristotle and the founders feared. Its harmful effects are already showing.