When we define politics as a fight, we all lose | Commentary

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The DNC and RNC are competing heavily in so-called “battleground” states, the choices being Gettysburg and Antietam. If the country’s two main political organizations commit themselves to leading the fight, a fight is inevitable.

Brendan Smialowski and Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images/TNS

Former Vice President Mike Pence, speaking to the Republican Jewish Caucus shortly after announcing that he was ending his presidential campaign, praised candidate Nikki Haley for “fighting for America, and fighting for Israel.”

However, Pence has never served in the armed forces of either the United States or Israel. Haley was speaking metaphorically, which is a political leadership battle.

In Arizona, Cary Lake, too, has never served in the military, but former President Donald Trump endorsed his bid for the U.S. Senate, saying, “When I get back to the White House, I need tough fighters like Cary in the Senate.” “

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We frame our lives with words, and when civic engagement is realistically imagined, we make culture wars inevitable and violence more plausible.

Ron DeSantis served with distinction in the U.S. Navy, but he wasn’t repeating the word “warrior” four times when an ad aired on November 4, 2022, prompting him to declare that God created him to be a warrior. Anything he did while deployed in Iraq. He was presenting himself as a pugilistic president.

Bellicosity is bipartisan. The Democratic National Committee website explains: “The Democratic Party elects leaders who fight for equality, justice and opportunity for all.

Similarly, the Republican National Committee said on its website: “We are engaged in a national effort to fight for our proven agenda, get our message to every American, grow the party, strengthen voter loyalty, and elect Republicans up and down the ballot.” “

The DNC and RNC are competing heavily in so-called “battleground” states, the choices being Gettysburg and Antietam.

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If the country’s two main political organizations commit themselves to leading the fight, a fight is inevitable.

Nor is it surprising that interest groups seek fighters to represent their interests. For its 25th anniversary, mixed martial arts promotion company Ultimate Fighting Championship produced a documentary about Trump called “Combatant in Chief.” “This guy’s a fighter,” UFC president Dana White said of the then-President of the United States.

Of course, bone spurs saved that man from military service.

“Words rule the world,” said John Selden, a 17th-century English jurist. And if we use military terms to describe the functions of our government, our leaders become warriors.

Of course, we should expect our elected officials to be diligent and zealous to work for the common good. But working is not fighting. Could the polarization and paralysis of our government be due in part to the expectation that our leaders will be gladiators?

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A better model of democracy than Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” might be JS Bach’s “The Art of the Fugue.” Fugues combine strong and varied sounds to make sweet music.

Steven G. Kelman is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio.



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