America Displays Cosmopolita–You know what, nevermind.

December 12, 2011

Political Theory


A few recent events have caused me to become very concerned with the state of things in the world today. Of course, these events involve the great cloud of ignorance surrounding the GOP during the debates. I want to begin by identifying that which may be the saving grace of mankind during this time, and which should certainly be the focus of policymakers at present and in the years to come.  I think, of all the theorists we read this year, the most sensible claims were made by Anthony Appiah, in his encouragement of cosmopolitanism. It is a valuable piece of knowledge that we must treat the entire world as one big community in order to gain greater peace and order, and a fact that can no longer be ignored.

If you’re going to run for President, if you’re even going to pretend to be qualified to assume that position, then you ought to know something about foreign affairs. This is why I consider Herman Cain’s Libya gaffe to be completely unacceptable. That kind of ignorance being demonstrated by someone who expresses a desire to be a public official sends quite a wrong message. At best, Cain seems a bit foolish, and at worst, appears egregiously unconcerned with the welfare of a fellow nation.

What kind of message does this send to United States citizens? What sort of message does it send to the world? It seems to me that  it shows citizens of this country that this sort of apathy is acceptable for public figures. And I think it shows the world that we are not prepared to undertake Appiah’s cosmopolitanism as a serious endeavor. Yes, I understand what it did to Cain’s reputation and chances in the primaries, but I think there is great concern to be had over the fact that this even happened in the first place. Someone who claimed to be so well versed in economics and so well prepared to become the leader of the free world blew a question whose answer could be found in headline stories, and the disregard for foreign affairs displayed by Cain here is positively revolting.

Another disturbing development is Newt Gingrich’s failure to recognize the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle for independence. Gingrich recently referred to Palestinians as an “invented” people. Wow. With such a careless statement, he alienates a large portion of the Middle East. How are we supposed to foster peace by insulting the plight of a displaced people? How exactly can we engender harmony by using such a harsh dialogue?

Newt.

The only thing this picture is missing is an evil laugh.

Both of these incidents indicate that our GOP front-runners completely whiff on Appiah’s words of wisdom. Instead of being concerned about the welfare of the world, they are only concerned with the United States. There is no collective effort to world progress evident in either of these statements. While I understand that United States political leaders need to pay attention to the state of affairs in the US, this cannot come at the expense of knowledge of foreign affairs. The United States cannot thrive by ignoring foreign uprisings and making flippant remarks about ancient feuds. We must show compassion for both ourselves and for the world around us. We must more actively seek to be peacemakers, and most importantly, must seek to spread understanding.

But maybe I’ve over-analyzed (as I am wont to do). So, faithful readers, tell me: are these incidents really as insidious as I have made them out to be? Do they do significant damage, or have I turned a molehill into a mountain?

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3 Comments on “America Displays Cosmopolita–You know what, nevermind.”

  1. rschles92 Says:

    First of all regarding Newt’s “invented” comment, we should be careful when looking at quotes that way. In a certain context the concept of Palestinian nationalism being invented would make sense in the matter that it was a hodgepodge of different cultures who met in a common homeland and created a nationalistic movement a long time ago.

    Anyways, I think you’re dead on in how disturbing it is for candidates to be so inept. I said the same thing when Sarah Palin was interviewed by Katie Couric during the 2008 election. Her answers on foreign policy and specifically Israel were not laughable they were terrifying. How could someone who is running for Vice President answer Couric’s questions that way and basically suffer no consequences? How were GOP members not calling for her to bow out of the election immediately? For a “true American” like John McCain not to fire her is a sign of carelessness for our country in my eyes. It shows that he clearly values winning an election more than helping a country.

    Palin became the butt end of some SNL jokes and lost the election but really she should have been expelled from American politics as soon as that interview aired. She not only showed incompetence but a complete disregard for her responsibilities a possible Vice President.

    The sad part is this is happening again. Herman Cain doesn’t even know the difference between pro life and pro choice. It seems to me that Obama could/should win another election on intellect alone. I think of myself as independent but I have tended to lean Democrat in the last few years purely because the GOP can’t come up with a candidate who can read.

  2. Austin Telling Says:

    These gaffes are certainly unacceptable for Presidential candidates. I feel that Newt’s comment, however, was less of a gaffe and more of political pandering. Unfortunately, that type of comment will go over well with the voters that Newt is trying to court. Cain has shown his ineptitude on foreign policy in previous comments before that, mainly relying on the talking point that he’d “talk to his advisors about it first”, without giving any substance to his answers.

    I’m sure this phenomenon of gaffes is nothing new, however. With the presence of the 24/7 media, the candidates are constantly watched and anything they say is immediately thrown into the public sphere. This wasn’t the case a hundred years ago, but I’m sure even Teddy Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland had their fair share of regrettable word choices.

  3. kaitlinlapka Says:

    It is a bit unfair now that candidates are watched constantly and everything they say can be construed in a different way and meaning. It doesn’t seem as comparable to past presidents. However, like stated above me, I am sure that every President has had their share of regrettable actions and word choices. This is true simply by the fact that they are human, and we have regrets like these all the time as well. They are not above the qualities of the rest of us, even though that is the pedestal at which they are placed. But this is the world that we live in now, and they need to watch what they say, do, and mean more carefully. Unfortunately, the media can take even the best of words into a different and negative meaning. However, that would be the difference between your becoming the president, getting the nomination of your political party, and becoming just another person who failed and didn’t raise enough votes along the campaign trail.

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