John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Philosophers Collide

Posted on July 31, 2013
plato-and-aristotle

It’s a healthy debate, despite the nastiness.

Rand Paul is Plato.  He is all about the theory of forms.  The Theory of Forms is the belief that the material world as it seems to us is not the real world, but only an image or copy of the real world.

For Rand Paul, the ideas behind the forms matter most.  Abstract principles like freedom and liberty are the dominant “forms” of American society.  Reality can be a distraction from the ultimate goal of absolute liberty.

Chris Christie is Aristotle.   He cares about the real stuff.  Aristotle cared about ethics in a real sense, not in a theoretical sense.  He catalogued things in his Metaphysics.  For him, the thing is the thing, and all of this other stuff is non-sense.

To Rand Paul, the idea of America’s surveillance program is an affront to American liberty, an insult to the forms of freedom.

To Chris Christie, America’s surveillance program helped to save lives, and since he has constituents that were either killed or otherwise victimized by the attacks of September 11th.    To Christie, you can’t enjoy freedom in America if you are killed by a terrorist.

Paul is esoteric in his philosophy.   To him, the drug war is not only a waste of money, but also government’s attempt to limit the freedom of the American people.   People should be able to do whatever they want to do with their bodies.

Christie is maddeningly practical in his philosophy.  He gives Barack Obama a firm handshake and a metaphorical wet kiss when the President comes to New Jersey to help with Hurricane Sandy relief, right before the November election.   Obama helps his State, so the Governor is gracious, no matter what the bigger political consequences.

Paul cares solely about the intellectual bearings of the Republican Party.  He wants to take it to a purer place, a place where the forms of freedom are protected, where the free market is completely unfettered, where government has only tiniest role in managing the economy, where big government, big labor, big corporations are slashed down to a more manageable size.  He seeks a utopian world where the invisible hand of the market, coupled with the moral backbone of the Judeo-Christian heritage of America, make this country a better place to live.

Christie wants a Republican Party that can win.  He sees the uses of government on occasion, and he understands the practicality of using government’s power to regulate markets.  He has aggressively taken on big labor, especially at the state government level, but he does that because government unions have too much power over the state budgets, not because of any philosophical aversion to the union movement.

The Republican Party is now going through a grand discussion.  Should it be practical or should it be ideological?   Should it be Tea Party or Establishment?  Should it be pure or should it get its hands dirty with reality?  Should it be Platonic or Aristotelian?

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

But it is a good discussion to have.