I was studying Demosthenes’s treatises on Rhetoric in college and I noticed an interesting insight. I had expected him to expound upon delivery, but he also emphasized preparation. It was not only important to have good arguments and the right presentation, you also had to make sure that the audience was prepared to receive your argument.
What that meant was: if your ideas were seeds for future action and growth, you had to also prepare the ground for the seeds to be sown. In Aristotelian terms, the Material Cause of the audience’s capacity for action had to be ready for the Agent Cause of your speech. The ground had to be tilled, before the seed was sown.
In business school at Duke this ancient insight was confirmed in our communications class where they taught us to get feedback from key stakeholders about a presentation before giving the presentation. The idea was to prepare them for the ideas you were going to present, to cultivate the field as it were, before sowing the seeds.
Aristotle’s four major works are the Rhetoric, the Poetics, the Ethics, and the Politics. Aristotle was very practical and realistic. His works also conform to his Four Causes -the Rhetoric is about Agency, the Poetics is about Formal cause, the Ethics about Material cause, and the Politics is about the Final Cause.
In the US, politics has become the essential final cause of all things. For Aristotle, Politics was a necessity and a reality, but it was not a religion. So if we look at partisan strategies from a practical view, they make sense in practical ways, often with religious-style morality as a cover.
In the US, the practical politics means that when parties are in power they try to gerrymander districts to ensure their party stays in power. [Overall, the two-party duopoly stays in power and very few incumbents ever lose.] Recently Republicans in North Carolina have been under federal scrutiny about gerrymandering districts to keep control of state politics. On the face of it the Republicans may seem to be wrong in terms of the civic religion, but you also have to realize that there has been a lot of migration from liberal, expensive, and bankrupt Northern states to the Charlotte and Research Triangle area of North Carolina.
Do native Carolinians have a right to control their state, and the laws and ethos of their state, in the face of a massive influx of outsiders moving into two tiny specific regions?
Because citizenship and voting laws in the U.S. are federal and not local (like Switzerland), theoretically a mass of voters from another state can move to North Carolina and by majority out-vote the families that have been there for over 250 years.
The Republicans in North Carolina are trying to control the Formal Cause of politics in order to ensure that legacy Carolinians are not out-voted by newcomers (most of whom are extremely condescending to the native population).
What I find interesting about this, aside from how useful Aristotle and Demosthenes remain to analyze issues in a clear way, is that Democrats are also attempting a very big gerrymander of their own, but their move has been imbued with a moral cover.
Democrats are trying to gerrymander the Material Cause of political life via mass immigration. (True, it is not a purely Democratic issue, the Chamber of Commerce Republican party puppets want cheap labor, local coherent communities be damned).
In fact, the Democrats have made immigration a major part of their electoral strategy.
The fight to protect Dreamers is not only a moral imperative, it is also a critical component of the Democratic Party’s future electoral success. -Jennifer Palmieri
As pundit Steve Sailer has pointed out, with the emergence of Identity Politics, the Republican Party has become the default “White Party” while the Democratic Party has become the “Coalition of the Ascendant” -a coalition that is organized around being not-white-middle-class.
Republicans, if they want to win, try to get legislation passed that suppresses non-white votes, and the Democrats advocate legislation that increases non-white votes. It’s politics, it’s dirty, it makes sense -both parties want to make the potential energy (the Material Cause) of the voting population more likely to emit an outcome positive for them. They each have different desired political outcomes, they each have different seeds, so they each need to condition the electoral soil to favor their seeds and their outcomes.
So, Republicans, who tend to be reactive to progressive movements, try to gerrymander the Form of elections. The Democrats want to gerrymander the Material of the election.
When the Hart-Cellar Act on immigration was passed in 1965, Ted Kennedy said it would not change the demographics of the country. Yet the country has gone from roughly 90% European descent and roughly 10% African descent to 62% European-descent.
Rhetoric depends both upon the agency of the argument and the material disposition of the audience. One party wants to change the material cause of the population in order to win elections, the other party wants to change the formal cause of the election process in order to win elections.
If the Democrats can stop gerrymandering against outsiders in North Carolina, is Trump allowed to stop Democratic gerrymandering against the current citizenry?
When ideologues want to change the world, they often find that regular folks are their biggest obstacle and so they eliminate them. As German author Bertolt Brecht wrote:
After the uprising of the 17th June The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
If Wall Street wants mass immigration to lower wages and increased consumer demand, and if the Democrats want mass immigration in order to win a demographic war for votes, I say those who already live here are allowed to use tools like “gerrymandering” to fight that. Because it licit tools are not allowed, beware the illicit ones that will come.