The Geography Behind Politics
David Fleming’s second chapter of his City of Rhetoric, entitled “The Placelessness of Political Theory”, attempts to address the what exactly defines one political boundaries. When defining the geography of politics and political theory, the first aspect to take into consideration would be the citizens themselves. Do politics and the laws/programs associated with it pertain only to a certain type of person, i.e. black, Christian, female, etcetera? David Fleming would say that is rarely the case, and rather politics is organized around certain geographical regions and shared common values. Rather than requiring all people under certain politics to share a certain skin color or religion, we typically ask that they instead share similar political views, such as agreeing to uphold a country’s Constitution. By doing this, we hope to create an “equal playing field” of sorts, that everyone can go into regardless of religion, race, class, gender, age, or sexual orientation. However, Fleming argues that those differences are actually an important and somewhat essential part of our society. In his own words, “democracy is thus inevitably about drawing boundaries around a group of humans who are equal to one another but superior, at least in certain respects, to outsiders” (22). Fleming goes on to talk about the two main types of political thought, republicanism and liberalism. Both centered around the “claim to be democratic and to support self-governing communities constituted by their members’ freedom and equality” (27), yet approaching this goal in fundamentally different ways. Liberalism is much more centered around the individual, while republicanism is dependent on everyone acting as a whole, at least according to Fleming. He closes this chapter discussing what he refers to as “commonplaces”, areas that link us to one another yet also allow us to be unique individuals. Fleming believes that these areas are essential for any sort of prosperous political system, and can be achieved.
Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany, NY: SUNY, 2009. Print.