Good Governing Virtues
Like values, virtues can be a broad and disagreeable subject. Rather than diverge into philosophical debate, we’ll just come right out and say it. There are three virtues that are relevant to political context, and are therefore worth fussing about:
In order to make an accurate assessment of the challenges we are facing, we must be honest.
Being honest means expanding the scope of consideration beyond the narrow and constricting political trenches. Being honest means admitting when something doesn’t make sense.
We must be honest with ourselves as we evaluate our personal politics. Being honest means acknowledging when something does work, even when it sounds like a really good idea.
Humility is simply acknowledging the limits of our own understanding. It is humility that helps us shed the insidious assumption of super knowledge.
Humility in politics almost feels faux pas. Politicians get elected because they convey the greatest degree of certainty and conviction. We are easily convinced that everyone else is wrong.
Nevertheless, in order to get beyond the current political impasse, a healthy dose of humility is in order, and it should be administered across the board.
To honor means to show respect. We should honor our own traditions and respect the traditions of others. That is a lot easier to do when we are humble and honest with ourselves.
Honor extends beyond showing respect toward political opponents. On a deeper level, we need to honor one another out of respect for our shared humanity. We should honor the human condition.
Honoring the human condition is an anecdote to intolerable arrogance and misplaced judgement. That makes this virtue indispensable to civil political discourse.
Much more could and should be said about these virtues.
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