The Corrupt Pleasure of Politics

One of the most troubling things about living in Washington, DC, is witnessing how many people find politics fun. These are the people who get super excited about a political candidate, talking about the chance of her winning with the same glee others discuss their team’s shot at a Super Bowl or World Series. These are the people who read Politico because they love the soap opera of Congress and the horse race of campaigns.

But it’s a corrupt pleasure and those who seek it ought to knock it off. Because politics is always and everywhere a failure of humanity. If we were better people, if we were of higher moral character, we wouldn’t need the state. We wouldn’t need, or feel the urge to, use the state to beat our neighbors into going along with — or at least paying for — our preferences, passions, and whims. We’d live our lives and let others do the same.

Thus the celebration of politics is the celebration of failure. It’s the celebration of our chronic inability to live up to the standards we ought to strive for. You can participate in politics because you want to make the world better. But you must at all time be aware that “making the world better” means making the world the sort of place where politics is recognized as the dirty and degrading business of people who are capable of so much better. It’s never something to be proud of, and it sure as hell isn’t something you should find fun.

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