Aristotle Was Right
April 13, 2019 § 4 Comments
I was reading a sports column (the link is to The Athletic, which is behind a pay wall) about the soap opera that has been the Green Bay Packers’ offseason. The author, Jay Glazer, was commenting on the drama and relationship breakdown between now former coach Mike McCarthy and star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The subtext was that Rodgers is at fault here, but that’s not what struck me. What struck me was Glazer then went on to state that McCarthy has ‘absolutely zero politics to him.’
Quite simply, I call bullshit. It is simply not possible to be a human being and have ‘zero politics’ to them. Politics, at its most base form, is concerned with power and status. We all negotiate power in human relations on a daily basis, we are all members of larger groups which are themselves engaged in power relations with other groups.
And McCarthy, as the long-time coach of the Packers, one of the oldest, most storied franchises in North American professional sports, had to engage in politics on a daily basis. It is impossible that McCarthy had ‘zero politics to him.’ Every single day, he had to negotiate his relationship with Ted Thompson, his general manager; his assistant coaches; his players; the media; Packers’ fans. And in his drama with Rodgers, McCarthy was the boss, the coach of the team. But given Rodgers’ stature, it wasn’t cut and dried.
In short, all relationships are power. All relationships are about status. To declare that someone has ‘zero politics to him’ is flat out stupid. Aristotle was right. Glazer is wrong.
“Politics” is often used in this country as if confined to partisan electoral politics. A misleading stance, to be sure, but one which makes it easy to say something isn’t political if it’s not about Republicans and Democrats.
That’s how politics is used in nearly every country, and that’s the issue I’m getting at. We’ve reduced the word to mean pretty much nothing, and that’s just wrong.
The other thing, too, which came to me this morning as I was pumping gas, is that the way in which Glazer meant this was in terms of workplace politics, and how we often criticize people for being political at work, always looking for their scheme and power play. And that is also where he is very wrong.
Aristotle described the role that politics and the political community must play in bringing about the virtuous life in the citizenry. That’s good politics, not petty politics.