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The Wisdom of the Pope Applied to Elections

It is old news that “leftist” factions at La Sapienza University in Rome created such a hostile environment that Pope Benedict XVI canceled his appearance there. He was to have given a speech marking the inauguration of the new school year. The protesters claimed this pope was “anti-science” and pointed to a speech he gave as Cardinal Ratzinger that addressed the trial of Galileo. It is now known that the protesters were misquoting the Pope in his previous speech. Reading the words of the speech the Pope was to have given, it is clear this pontiff is definitely not anti-science. It is a lengthy treatise, but it is definitely a worthy investment of time and brain cells to carefully read it all.

I would like to draw your attention to one passage. As our American election season heats up, these words should be in every candidate’s and every voter’s mind:

Insofar as the reasonable mechanisms are concerned he notes that the issue cannot be reduced to a mere struggle for who gets more votes but must include a “process of argumentation that is responsive to truth” (wahrheitssensibles Argumentationsverfahren). This is well said but it is something difficult to turn into political praxis. We know that the representatives of this public “process of argumentation” are for the most part political parties which shape the formation of the public will. In fact they invariably will seek a majority and will almost always take care of the interests they pledge to protect which are very often partisan and not collective interests. Responsiveness to the truth always takes the back seat to partisan interests. To me it is significant that Habermas should say that responsiveness to truth is a necessary component of political argumentation, since it reintroduces the concept of truth in philosophical and political debates.

Thus the difference between a statesman and a politician. A statesman sees his role as one of service. A politician sees his role as one of garnering and preserving power. As we look at the various candidates, it is important to recognize who seeks to be a statesman and who seeks to be a politician.


Tausign said…
Introducing the concept of 'truth' in philosophical and political debate?...I sure hope that's a prophecy.

The best hope we have is when someone who 'doesn't want to be leader actually gets choosen to lead'. Think of the model used in choosing our spiritual Father, The Pope.

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