Aristotle’s Tips for Voting in the 2016 Election

Annie Holmquist | October 4, 2016

The end of the 2016 election is in sight – thank goodness!


Despite this fact, approximately 10 percent of voters are still undecided in regards to whom they will vote for.


For the uncertain among us – or even for those who have already decided – some advice from Aristotle might be helpful. Throughout the work we know as The Politics, Aristotle lays out a number of essentials that a ruler must have, three of which are summarized below:


1. Virtue

According to Aristotle, “the ruler ought to have moral virtue in perfection.” What virtuous qualities are particularly needful for a person in leadership? Aristotle lists temperance and justice as primary qualities, and suggests that individuals who are “licentious and cowardly” will be unable to faithfully execute the office of a ruler. Furthermore, a ruler must have self-control and not be given to passion, for “passion perverts the minds of rulers, even when they are the best of men.”


2. Wisdom

As Aristotle explains, “The good ruler is a good and wise man, and … he who would be a statesman must be a wise man.” Aristotle goes on to say that “practical wisdom” is the character quality that sets a ruler apart from those he or she leads.


3. Ability to Obey

As a recent survey from Highlights Magazine demonstrated, kids think that one of the perks to being president is the opportunity to be in charge and not be told what to do. Nothing could be further from the truth in Aristotle’s eyes, for a good ruler, he notes, learns to carry out his responsibilities by being under the direction of experts. To underscore this sentiment, Aristotle quotes a popular maxim: “‘he who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.’”


As we approach the election, we would be wise to put the candidates at all levels of government – local, state, and national – to this three-prong test of Aristotle’s before choosing whom to cast our votes for.


And if none of the candidates pass the test, then perhaps we need to consider that they are simply an extension of those who nominated them.


If we want better candidates, do we need to incorporate Aristotle’s tips for rulers into our own lives before we demand them in the lives of those we vote for at the polls?


Image Credit: {PD-old}

Republish