Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Principle for Politics

I have a column out today entitled: We Need a Return to Principled Government. As always, comments and links welcome.

PS I submitted it with this post's title, any thoughts on which is better?

6 Comments:

Blogger Burgess Laughlin said...

> "PS I submitted it with this post's title, any thoughts on which is better?"

The general advice I have always received from editors is to look at other titles in the same publication category. Mimic their style.

Here is an example from the "Most Popular" list next to your article:

"Debate Over Tea Party Protest Numbers Masks the Real History Made"

Most titles in that list are active in the sense that they are either questions or complete, active-voice sentences. Your original title is a label title that might be more suitable for a paper or treatise.

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Sidney Cammeresi said...

I have to agree with Mr Laughlin that the original title is passive, and it sounds pretty high falutin' as well.

I'm not thrilled with the revision either. What about simply "Return to Principled Government"?

8:18 AM  
Blogger Amit Ghate said...

Thanks Burgess, that makes sense.

Sidney, your suggestion is definitely better than my original.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Burgess Laughlin said...

Here is another, perhaps more useful perspective on the two titles.

Your original title is a title of identification.

Their title is a title of provocation, that is, one that provokes the reader into responding in some way. This is a technique for "engaging" the reader as the reader skims headlines.

A well written title can do both: identify the subject and provoke the reader.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Amit Ghate said...

My title definitely lacked any provocation or motivation. I always worry about giving too much away in the title, but obviously I need to come up with lines that will draw a reader in. Thanks for the comments and suggestions.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Dear Amitl,

I appreciated the excellence of your article, but must ask why you included this parenthetical remark:
"tragically the Founders didn’t choose to abolish slavery. This shameful and glaring self-contradiction almost tore the country apart in the decades that followed." (my bolding)

Having read "The Pursuit of Reason: the life of Thomas Jefferson" and "The Enlightenment in America" I do not believe The Founders *indulged* in a "glaring self-contradiction", nor that their decisions were in any way "shameful".

Jefferson himself was unsure as to whether the intellectual nature of the Negro was sufficient for living in a society that acted on Individual Rights. In fact, Adams was utterly convinced that Americans from Europe could not be expected to do so. In fact, the irrational immorality of ordinary American-Europeans was his major reason for promoting a government that was a near monarchy. At the time, Adams's view was in no way radical. In fact, he had substantial support among educated Americans. This, I suggest, was no contradiction.

Even if Jefferson was convinced (which he was not) that the Negro was equal to the European, in possessing natural, inalienable, individual Rights, it remained that without the southern slave colonies' support New America could not have opposed the British King and military forces.

The Founders were not, in my understanding, engaging in a contradiction.
Theirs was an issue of understanding the Nature of all Men, of all races.
Theirs was an issue of "which battle is the more urgent?" Should they fight regional slavery, or the slavery of all Americans to the King of England?

Clearly, The Founders, by winning the battle against the British, paved the way for the abolition of slavery in America.

In fact, I now believe it was a tragedy that the Politically-Correct abolitionists so agitated the North that a civil war was initiated. Had the Lincoln era used reason and patience, in Jeffersonian style, the slaves would have been released within ten to fifteen years, without the horrendous mortality of Americans killing Americans!

The Civil War took a ghastly 620,000 American lives (on both sides). This was far more than ANY American involvement in any war since! Even WW2 'only' cost 418,500 American lives.

I suggest that The Founders' choice was prescient in its intelligence, and that the North & Lincoln made a far greater error, as measured in human lives.

If I am wrong, in the above summation, I would love some good reasons as to why.

5:24 PM  

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