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

Thomas Paine's Influence

posted Dec 16, 2012 01:05:43 by LinhQuan
Paine was an undeniably influential figure during the nation’s fledging moments but his works after Common Sense caused public opinion of him to fall. He eventually became unknown and ignored. It is a pity that he fell so far from his place in society since he was someone who was able to “express more boldly and eloquently than any other writing of the time” the ideas and sentiments of the revolution to the colonist and to other international powers at the time. (209) His work acted as another one of the numerous pushes that caused the colonists to declare their independence. He fits into our modern political culture in that in wrote things in such a way that “reach people with a simple common style” because “he wanted to write for ordinary people.” (220) People always want a political figure to be relatable and seem like they care for everyone on a personal level. Paine’s way of writing did just that. Modern politicians see the effect of Paine's writing style on the common people and follow it. Paine also exemplifies why most politicians decide that it is beneficial to keep a more moderate view on many issues. Paine invoked the disdain of his fellow colonists when he “vehemently attacked Christianity, the Bible, and the orthodox religion and said things that most ordinary folk found unforgivable” in The Age of Reason. (221) Since a majority of the people held the religion close to their hearts, the public opinion of him plummeted.
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3 replies
maryanngill said Dec 16, 2012 17:34:52
I agree that modern politicians have adopted Paine's style of writing for the common people. I read an article recently about how all of Obama's State of the Union addresses have been delivered at an eighth grade reading level. It seems like modern media is also influenced by this idea. The media serves as a linkage institution to make political ideas accessible to the public, often boiling down complex legislation or political platforms to make them easier for the general public to understand.
LinhQuan said Dec 17, 2012 00:22:55
It's pretty interesting to know that people are being addressed in an eighth grade level. There is that increasing trend where the media is "dumbing" things down for the general population. This also means that people aren't fully understanding what is going on in the political world that they are living in. That might have also been what was happening in the past since the people who were writing the Constitution were mostly scholarly while the other colonists didn't have the time for that.
KeykoRegalado said Dec 17, 2012 01:00:20
It's sad to see how poorly the media views the general audience if it needs to "dumb" reports down so often. Aside from that, it's a shame that the people of Paine's time did not appreciate his observations on moderate views of religion in a time of supposed "Enlightenment". He was honest about his views even during a time where majority of the public disagreed with him- a quality which Americans today doubt politicians have. I agree with your explanation of the benefit of moderate views. Ironically enough, Paine’s views eventually were appreciated by the general public; for although religion is still a controversial issue between politicians today (for example, Obama speaking about how America is no longer just Christian and Romney accusing Obama of insinuating that America should be "a less Christian" nation), a large chunk of society has stepped away from religion and would refuse to have religious extremist in power.
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