Dirty Hands, Dirty Politicians
One line that stood out to me in Walzer’s “The Problem of Dirty Hands” is the question as to whether or not one can govern innocently (p. 161). Do all political actions of authoritative figures have to end in dirtied hands? Do all politics have to be corrupt? It concerns me that, not only is this question often proven to be true, but Walzer also says that “nor do most of us believe that those who govern us are innocent” (p. 161). Now, I’m from the lovely city of Chicago, and we’re known for our corrupt politics (what’s up, Blagojevich?), so I’m accustomed to politics and corruption strolling along hand in hand. It’s truly alarming that not only do I have difficulty separating politics and corruption, but Walzer seems to believe that many others do, too. My mother warns me not to get involved in politics because she thinks that most of the time politicians are sneaky, devious, and hand out/receive bribes left and right. From what it seems, Walzer won’t be one to prove my mother wrong! Walzer writes of how politicians not only cater to our interests, but they act on our behalf (p. 162). If politicians are corrupt, and they’re acting on our behalf…then, well, you do the math. (Politicians = corrupt, politicians = acting on behalf of the people, the people = corrupt)
Machiavelli famously said that it’s better for rulers to be feared rather than loved. Walzer says that politicians have “dirty hands”. MLK says that some laws are made to be broken. Hobbes says that sovereign figures are expected to be just…but who’s to take action when they act unjustly? Aren’t they the ones wielding the sword on the cover drawing of The Leviathan?
When will politics get a good name? Don’t get me wrong, politicians and public leaders do noble, admirable, and beneficial things day in and day out and these actions do not go unnoticed, but why aren’t articles being written about the innocence of politics? Why must politics be viewed in a negative light? I’m waiting for the day when no dirt can be dug up about backhanded politics, and Chicago is known for something other than it’s corrupt politics (maybe then the Cubs will finally win the World Series).