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

posted Dec 16, 2012 20:47:31 by emmalarson1
Wood argues that although Paine was not well recognized as a "founding father" of the nation, it was because of his outspokenness and lack of connection to the aristocracy, which were in themselves positive things. Because of his disconnect, he could "view the matter rather than the parties" and "endeavor to serve all." This was beneficial because he didn't have a lot of the biases and social positions to honor (like Adams, Jefferson, and Madison) that probably would have kept him from clearly forming and sharing his opinions. He was simply an intellectual. Additionally, he sought to inform the common people (including artisans, like he formerly was), through a "simple common style." This was extremely important because it brought the ideas of the Revolution down to a level that everyone could understand, and the Revolution did affect everyone, after all. Today, his legacy can be seen in the proliferation of media outlets like newspapers, magazines, and online, which an average person can use to harshly criticize the government from the outside.
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4 replies
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13hbarth said Dec 16, 2012 21:17:05
I agree that Paine's legacy is still seen today. He, unlike many of the founders, seemed to understand the importance of average people's access to information. Despite their ideals of democracy, it seems like some of the founders were almost content to allow politics to be confined to an educated elite class. Paine, however, made sure that ordinary people could understand what was going on, something that is essential for forming an opinion and participating in the political system. Paine was unpopular because he had strong opinions that he didn't try to hide. But this same outspokenness also accounted for his success. This reminds me of modern media figures who are loved by the side they support and hated by the other. Despite Paine's lack of connection to a party, I could see him fitting in pretty well with some of the partisan media outlets.
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emmalarson1 said Dec 17, 2012 00:20:33
I totally agree. People cannot participate in the political system if they do not understand what is going on in the first place. He not only informed the public, but also set an example as a critical able to voice their opinion about the government.
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EshwarCheekati said Dec 17, 2012 02:17:02
Although I agree that Paine's legacy can be seen through media outlets today where people can criticize the government, I also feel like Paine would be very disappointed in the way media functions. The media has been focusing more and more on the horse race of politics rather than on the issues and stances themselves nowadays. This is distracting the viewers and readers from the important information needed for a society to properly function. Furthermore, he would also been disappointed in how much the United States is involved in foreign affairs. He states "it is the true interest of America to steer clear of European contentions" but we tend to get involved in many matters over there.
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Mr_Ulmschneider said Dec 18, 2012 03:23:20
This is a really interesting discussion, tying Paine to modern media. So mix it up a little: would Paine be pleased with today's media's interest in sensationalism and emotionally stirring stories? After all, he certainly knew the value of a good, blood-stirring turn of phrase. What would he make of modern media's somewhat sensational slant and infotainment ways?
"An honest heart being the first blessing, a knowing head is the second." (Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, August 19, 1785)
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