What Philosopher Charles Taylor Would Do If He Were In Charge in America

Posted on November 12, 2016 By newsroom Taged: Trump-presidency

From a long profile of Philosopher Charles Taylor in the New Yorker:

Trump’s frank negativity—“We’re losing at everything” —spoke directly to Americans’ disillusionment; his emotional, unmediated spontaneity suggested, to some people, that a remote and overrehearsed political world might be made vibrant and fulfilling again. 

What Charles Taylor has some ideas about what he might do if he were in charge:

In big cities, he told me, it’s easy for people to feel engaged in the project of democracy; they’re surrounded by the drama of inclusion. But in the countryside, where jobs are disappearing, main streets are empty, and church attendance is down, democracy seems like a fantasy, and people end up “sitting at home, watching television. Their only contact with the country’s problems is a sense that everything’s going absolutely crazy. They have no sense of control.” He advocates raising taxes and giving the money to small towns, so that they can rebuild. He is in favor of localism and “subsidiarity”—the principle, cited by Alexis de Tocqueville and originating in Catholicism, that problems should be solved by people who are nearby.

And now for the most important bits of advice:

Perhaps, instead of questing for political meaning on Facebook and YouTube, we could begin finding it in projects located near to us. By that means, we could get a grip on our political selves, and be less inclined toward nihilism on the national scale. (It would help if there were less gerrymandering and money in politics, too.)

Joshua Rothman, who has done the New Yorker profile, adds on what this rooted, meaningful democracy might look like. Basically, leave your phone and talk to the neighbors.

A political life centered on local schools, town governments, voluntary associations, and churches; a house in the woods with the television turned off. Inside, family members aren’t glued to their phones. They talk, over dinner, about politics, history, and faith, about national movements and local ones; they feel, all the time, that they’re doing something. It’s a pastoral vision, miles away from the media-driven election we’ve just concluded. But it’s not a fantasy.

Bighow distils the daily news that is important to you, why you should care, and what's next.

The Success Manual