Madison’s political philosophy was greatly influenced by preacher and Princeton president, John Witherspoon. Witherspoon’s influence is apparent in places like the Federalist Papers where you see Madison’s realistic view of man’s fallen nature.
“Democracies allow the greatest number of citizens in ruling, Witherspoon notes, but often, as he learned from Aristotle, they degenerate into mob rule, ‘deceived by demagogues’ and ‘subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage.’”
Do you think that is a word for us today?
“Left” and “right” are thrown around a lot by, well you know, those on the left and right.
Did you know that the terms may be more beholden to the Enlightenment, so fairly recent?
Also, before we glibly designate someone of the left or right, we ought to consider whether we can answer a few questions:
What’s the difference between the left and the radical/progressive left as used today?
What’s the difference between the right and the far right as used today?
What is the irreducible minimum that makes one a “liberal”?
What is the irreducible minimum that makes one a “conservative”?
And I finish by recommending this terrific book:
HT: To Roger Berry for the picture. I am writing a book with Professor Michael Haykin on Ralph Waldo Emerson. It seems the president likes Emerson. I don’t think it is quite accurate to say, “I love Emerson,” but he has been a very productive conversation partner.
And now to the matter of this post…
Some of you know about my critical piece on Trump which was cited favorably on the Gospel Coalition and elsewhere. I still stand by everything I wrote. Here it is:
IS VOTING FOR TRUMP A “MORALLY GOOD CHOICE”? RESPONDING TO WAYNE GRUDEM
I did not vote during the 2016 election when it comes to president. For everyone else, I cast a vote. And I still stand by that decision. And yes, I think it was my patriotic duty to not vote.
But things can change…
I regularly preach (really I teach it) that true education is many things, but one thing for sure: painful. The ancient Greeks had a name for it: mathein pathein. “To learn is to suffer.” If you are truly learning, you have to face deficient views/ideas you previously believed.
Do I think my previous thoughts on Trump deficient? Largely, I do not, especially because I was addressing some specific areas of concern and those have not changed.
And yet, I want to remain open to new dynamics.
I’m still not sure what I will do in the upcoming election, but this is the best piece that is causing me to consider Trump:
I read a lot of history. Usually, I have to read long books (400 pages plus) to get as much insight as this much shorter one by Gregg. In only 166 pages the author gives intellectual insights on every page. It is a feast for both heart and mind.
The writing is clear and compelling. Gregg knows the flow of Western ideas very well. He communicates with ease some of the main currents of thought.
It is rare that the number of my markings (or marginalia) exceeds the number of the pages of a book I have read, but this is one of those rare times.
I highly recommend this balanced and beautifully conceived book!
“Conservatives believe in unchosen obligations, whereas classical liberals think that the only source of obligation is choice.”
Sir Roger Scruton
HT: Albert Mohler
One of the best conversations I’ve heard about what really matters to evangelical faith when it comes to President Trump:
HT: John Fea
My interview with a scholar of James Madison offers some help:
Staying Home on Election Day? What would James Madison Say?