I awoke to a thunderstorm last night, half drunk, half lucid, completely dehrydrated. I rushed downstairs to grab glass of water and as I drank it walked over to the large bay windows in the foyer facing the street, and admired the storm. However, the comforting aura that the sound of rain brings at night was completely replaced with one of an eerie, spectral nature. A sense that something was wrong, like this storm brought evil with it like an old horror story might detail. But rather than fear that filled my mind, it was a question: Who is our Alcibiades?
The name Alcibiades elicits a vivid memory of a story I had once been told. In ancient Greece, there lived an Athenian named Timon. Timon was a misanthropist; he hated all men, and would frequently demonstrate his disdain by shouting vitriolic curses at those who caught his eye at the Athenian Agora. However, one day Timon ran into Alcibiades, a powerful politician and general, and instead of the typical stream of insults, Timon showered praise on Alcibiades. He made sure to let everyone present know that Alcibiades was a great man, one who should lead Athens. After he was done, a boy from the crowd approached him and asked “Timon, why is it that you like Alcibiades but hate everyone else?” to which he replied “because Alcibiades is going to bring great harm to the people of Athens”. And with classic Greek justice being meted out for the sin of hubris, Alcibiades did just that.
Fast forwarding 2000 years, I wonder, who is our Alcibiades? If Timon were alive, whom would he be heaping praise on?
Would it be the conservatives, who would rather see the wealth of the United States squandered on wars across the globe? Or the liberals, who would see our prosperity slowly taxed out of existence?
Would it be the conservatives, who wouldn’t increase the debt during the Great Recession to put people back to work, but gave $1.5 trillion corporations less than ten years later? Or the liberals, who’s ever increasing welfare programs threaten the very livelihood of the nation?
Would it be the conservatives, who’s sanctimonious, pious evangelical charade degrades the institutions of science, justice and liberty? Or would it be the liberals, who’s core social principles elevate the rights of illegal immigrants over American citizens?