Vail Daily’s View: Hubris fells majority party, again
Vail, CO, Colorado
In the wake of Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts, we’d like to propose a new rule for candidates of both major parties – take a quick review of Greek literature to learn the definition of “hubris.”
One of the better examples is Icarus, who, ignoring the commands of the gods, flew his wax wings too close to the sun. The wax melted in the heat, and Icarus fell to his death.
It’s not too great a leap to connect Icarus’ pride and arrogance with modern politicians of virtually every stripe.
Just about the first thing out of former President George W. Bush’s mouth after his second inauguration was “I have political capital, and I intend to spend it.” All but Bush’s most dedicated supporters had to cringe at that one.
Just after his inauguration, President Barack Obama essentially told repudiated Republicans that they’d caused all the nation’s problems, so it was time for them to just be quiet, get out of the way and let his crew get to work. That was followed by an unprecedented deficit spending spree and work on legislation that had little, if anything, to do with the nation’s teetering economy and rising jobless rate.
The result? One day less than a year later, Democrats are reeling, and there’s serious talk that Republicans could yank back a majority in at least one house of Congress this fall.
It’s all due to hubris, the belief that any victory is total victory and that even a narrow win represents a mandate. People with any sense at all know that’s not true, but it’s a lesson that politicians apparently have to re-learn on a regular basis.
Besides a quick review of Icarus, Oedipus and Achilles, maybe national politicians should also be required to revive an old Roman tradition.
Whenever a Roman emperor or general returned from a successful military campaign, he’d have someone at his side during the victory parade – that person would whisper, “Remember, thou art mortal.”
Hey, it would at least create a few hundred new jobs.
Vail Daily Editorial Board