Saturday, January 13, 2024
#13 / Governance And Grievance
That is Heather Cox Richardson, pictured above. Richardson is a history professor at Boston College, and she writes a daily blog, on Substack. She calls her blog, "Letters from an American." You can subscribe to Richardson's blog on a "pay to subscribe" basis, or you can subscribe for free. Whichever way you decide to do it, I certainly recommend that you do subscribe.
Richardson's blog posting on November 27, 2023, discussed prisoner exchanges between Israel and Hamas. It also commented on our two major political parties, identifying one of them (the Democratic Party) as focusing, in Congress, and in policies carried out by President Biden, mainly on "governance," and characterizing the efforts of the Republican Party as focusing mainly on "grievances."
I do think that Richardson can sometimes come across as more of a cheerleader for the Democratic Party than I'd wish, but leaving any partisan issues aside, I believe it's important to pay attention to the distinction that Richardson addresses.
As we consider the task of self-government - and particularly at such a difficult time in the history of our nation, and of the world, we (each one of us) should focus our thinking on "governance."
What should we do? How should we do it? What actions do we need to take to achieve the policy goals we think are important? These are "governance" questions. There are different ideas about how best to answer those questions, and there is probably at least some validity in almost every different idea out there. "Politics," with self-government being based on "politics," demands an active and energetic debate and discussion about what we, collectively, should do. When our politics is focused on the issues that need to be discussed and debated, "governance" is what we are doing, working through such debate and discussion to a decision. After that, we move on to subsequent action, based on the decision reached, and that will then change the world.
It is easier, oftentimes, to "bitch," to use a technical term - or to "carp," a term I used in a recent blog post. Our "politics" often veers from debate and discussion about what we ought to do to an exercise in which we focus on who is doing the wrong things, and who has wrong ideas. We start focusing on our "grievances," in other words, instead of on "governance." That is a detour from effective self-government, and it's a dangerous diversion!
"Governance," not "Grievance," needs to be our focus. If we don't focus on "Governance," to hail back to some Bob Dylan lyrics that I posted in an earlier blog entry, we are going to go "Down In The Flood."
Since "Grievance" is ususally easier, and is sometimes a lot more fun than "Governance," it is easy to spend most of our time bitching about what's wrong, and denouncing the people who are wrong, instead of trying to put together some sort of political action program that aims at effective governance, and that can garner significant support.
If that's what we do - bitch about our grievances - we are almost certainly going to go "down in the flood." And.... Mr. Dylan is indubitably correct. Just like his song says, if that's what happens it's going to be our own fault!