I admire Paine's unrelenting efforts as a so-called public intellectual - "an unconnected social critic" who embraced a "thinking kind of life, and of course, a writing kind of life." Woods seems to praise this quality as well; he inquires as to why Paine never harbored the reputable title of "founding father", in spite of his great influence to the ideas behind the American Revolution. These ideas include "breathtaking vision, a humble respect for ordinary folk, and a sober recognition of the complexity of human affairs" and a strict condemnation of the monarchy. It is clear that these assertions are indicative of American sentiment during pre-Revolutionary times. With the publication of Common Sense, these ideas that were lucidly explained made Paine famous. Yet, just as he was successful in maintaining an uncompromising ideology, he ceaselessly defied the "gentlemanly" nature of the Founding Fathers. Additionally, he had radical religious views that disillusioned the "Enlightened" common people. During this time, his unconventional character made him unpopular; however, I believe that his radical ideals contributed much to the revolutionary cause, and despite him being a "disinterested citizen of the world" rather than patriotically "American", he deserves to be recognized more than what is granted of him. Prior to this article, I was aware of "Common Sense", but as for Paine himself, I do not know much especially in relation to Jefferson and Franklin. As for his story applying to modern politics, I think that Paine's downfall was his public image, which is something extremely relevant to modern American political culture. The media still castigates "lying, drunken, brutal infidels" (as Paine was called), in spite of how intellectual and influential they may be. Though it is important to note that we are probably more lenient in what is considered scandalous in this day and age.
[Last edited Dec 16, 2012 22:44:03]