Politics is intoxicant from our sense that it could provide us the society we want, or at least from the sense that if it is not done right we’d get a society that would be unlivable. So much is at stake!
Maybe. My suspicion is that politicians are more like managers of grocery stores: most of the products and prices are determined in advance and are out of their control. Thinking that electing the right politician will give us the country we want is like thinking that the right grocery store manager will give us the diet we want. Hey, he’s in charge of stocking the food we buy, isn’t he?
I’ve spent most of my life listening to promises of reform and a better tomorrow that are indistinguishable from ads for diet plans. I don’t doubt that there is political justice and the opportunity for genuine reform any more than I doubt that there is a healthy body and the possibility of shifting to a healthier life, but the election rhetoric we have such a hard time not getting drawn into has the same relation to the former that a diet fad has to the latter. Both offer the promise of improvement for nothing, of becoming good without the sort of renunciations, faithfulness in small things, dedication to detail, knowledge of our limitations, and long-term commitment that real goodness demands.