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American Democracy from a Platonic View

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Autor:   •  October 11, 2017  •  Term Paper  •  1,089 Words (5 Pages)  •  195 Views

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American Democracy from a Platonic View

A platonic perspective of today’s democracy in America may look a little too similar to what Plato described. The democracy we live in today may very much so perfectly accentuate the shortcomings of democracy that Plato was so sure about.

Plato was sure that democracy derived itself from ‘a form of government called oligarchy, the rule of a wealthy few’ (Soccio 80). Today in America, and for the past two weeks, we as citizens have been subject to a new President, Donald J. Trump, who for a majority of his life has made up the top one percent of wealth in the United States. Plato asks, “Doesn’t oligarchy change into democracy because of lack of restraint in the pursuit of its objective of getting as rich as possible (Soccio 80)?”. Trump often comes off as very power hungry and greedy. He promotes policies that benefit the rich and take away from the poor, which could someday cause issues. Because according to Plato, ‘as the rich get richer, the poor grow angrier until they somehow overthrow the rich, either through armed revolt or by social and legal pressure. Resentful over their status, the poor initiate a program of equality (Soccio 81).”

To me, the above represents one of Mr. Trump’s main goals, to ‘Make America Great Again’ by making us a richer, more powerful country. How he plans to go about acquiring this money has not necessarily been set in stone or written out or planned, which may conflict with Plato’s cardinal virtues which he said are needed to create optimal functioning for societies and individuals. The cardinal virtue/s to which Trump’s unclearness may conflict is justice. Justice makes up the resultS of the three other cardinal virtues combined, which are temperance, wisdom, and courage (Soccio 80). Virtue reflects one’s ability to function in a reasonable, beneficial way. I do not believe that Trump can effectively have or display these virtues because he has seemingly lacked an essence of them. Regarding temperance, Trump scores very low, if at all. He has no self control (or at least a willingness to control) his speech, rhetoric, and temper. He guides his ‘reason’ by his opinions, hardly ever does he use research or logical facts. Regarding courage, I cannot think of a situation where he has worked hard to significantly ‘protect the community and enforce the just laws of the guardians (Soccio 80)’. He may believe he has/will protect our democracy through bans and walls, yet that calls upon another virtue that I believe he lacks; wisdom. One who is wise would learn from history. One who is wise would use reason and logic. One who is wise would not use hate and fear as a source of power. ‘Wisdom is found only in a community ruled by those fit by nature and training to guide it (Soccio 80).’ If Mr. Trump is not acting wisely, he affects the citizens’ ability to be wise as well. If all of the above virtues have not been met, it is impossible for him to have the virtue of justice, which lets them all work as a unit. Plato says that a just state is essential, and that it caters to each individual by supplying an adequate, fair lifestyle to citizens.

Plato also believed that ‘a good life can only be lived in a good society because no one can live a truly good life in an irrational, imbalanced society (Soccio 78).’ Can we achieve a good life in our own democracy if our President makes irrational decisions? Plato claims that a huge characteristic of a democracy is lack of guidance, the ability to have self control, the lack of wisdom and also the lack of temperance. This creates the possibility that one can be easily swayed by one’s or other’s opinions versus being able to be persuaded by knowledge and facts. It creates a constant state of change, always ‘becoming’ (Soccio 81). It was evident during Trump’s campaign and during his debates that he makes decisions based off of his personal opinions and that sometimes he is not even sure how much he supports his own opinions. He fluctuates between beliefs, claiming that he previously did not believe in the belief he OBVIOUSLY said that he believed in. This creates a state of consistent inconsistency. We accept that our commander in chief never has to be definitive or certain in his beliefs; so what does that mean for us as citizens? What kind of a ‘society’ does that create for us? If we have no one to lead us with confidence based off of facts and knowledge, are we going to accept that we have a man leading us strictly based upon his biased views? Plato says, ‘only very rare and exceptional individuals can grow up to be good people without good training from infancy, in a good environment (Soccio 81).’ If we grow up in an unsafe, unstable society (environment), how can we grow to be good people?


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