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Mr. Ulmschneider's Forums > AP Government: Madison, Paine, and Politics

Paine's influence as a writer

posted Dec 16, 2012 17:19:30 by maryanngill
In his article, Wood points out that Common Sense "did not cause Americans to think of declaring independence," but "it did express more boldly and eloquently than any other writing what many of them had already come to think about America's tie to the British crown" (209). Maybe it's true that Paine wasn't the most original thinker, but he deserves way more credit for what's described in the second part - his role as a writer. Paine could be compared to today's media based on his mission to make political ideas "accessible to the common reader" (220). However, Wood makes it clear that Paine did not write for money. He simply considered it his purpose to translate ideas from "rational, enlightened, restricted audiences of educated men" (219) for the common American people, promoting values of democracy and equality. Paine served a purpose similar to historical figures such as Dante, the father of Italian language, or Martin Luther, who translated the Bible into German to give access to commoners. He should go down in history along with such important figures, not as a Founding Father or a politician, but as a writer.
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4 replies
DanaMoore said Dec 16, 2012 19:39:19
I agree with you! Paine was a writer in a time of politicians. Just like the Pope, who is a religious figure,has taken issues relevant to the Catholic Church to twitter, Paine took the issues of government reform to the people through his writings. He was a voice to the people that helped them become active in the state of their government affairs, which would have been out of their reach otherwise.
maryanngill said Dec 16, 2012 22:13:09
That's a great modern example, Dana! It's perfect because the Pope's username (or whatever you call it) on Twitter is @pontifex, which means "bridge builder" in Latin. The big difference is that Pope Benedict XVI is much more well-known, and comes up with more original ideas. I've heard speculation that he has assistants who write the tweets for him. Paine might be more similar to one of those assistants because they act as middlemen to orchestrate communication of ideas between the pope and the people.
Kia Jordan said Dec 17, 2012 04:52:08
Mary Ann your post reminded me of what we discussed in class earlier this year: infotainment. Paine's informative writings were clearly for the commoners who would have no access to government news otherwise. Today, we've seen a shift in the media where people don't just want the information, they want entertainment. This entertainment can be tragic or comedic, but nonetheless it's entertainment. Despite having full advantage over revolutionary times and now having speedy access to information, people want more. I almost feel that if Paine were alive today, he would be just as much dismissed now as he was then. The majority of people would not want to read about his writings unless they were entertaining. I definitely agree with you though. Paine should be praised for his writings, radical or not, and for his intiative to get information out to commoners.
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kayla.fynaardt said Dec 17, 2012 05:02:55
Mary Ann, I completely agree with your ideas. Perhaps it is a stretch to define Paine as a founding father, but his writing certainly had an impact on the political atmosphere and on the people of the time. I think it is interesting to note that while he did seem to desire to bring a political awareness to the people, it didn't appear that he was really aiming to gain their approval or anything in terms of his own character. I think that today, people who act as these messengers to the public, like news stations and the like, strive to maintain an image of being trustworthy and reputable... Paine seemed not to care at all, as he was described as having the appearance of a drunkard and he made the mistake of being a little too open about his beliefs and criticizing the Christian religion.
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