Arrogant politicians?: Just taking their cues from the culture

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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If you’re worried about how pop culture has infected politics, look no further than the government shutdown, where politicians of both parties have been displaying a sort of “me!” mentality.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this. In a society where pop stars are celebrated as they gloat about their material wealth, and football stars literally dance in the end zone, why should politicians (Washington is Hollywood for ugly people) put personal publicity over principle? Politics is, after all, downstream from culture, meaning that societies’ values — for good or bad — will eventually end up there.

Maybe that’s what makes David J. Bobb’s new book, Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America’s Greatest Virtue, so refreshing and timely (listen to our conversation here.). In fact, things have gotten so bad that Bobb, director of the Kirby Center at Hillsdale College, worries that our modern conception of humility is “a virtue for wimps and wallflowers.” In other words, it’s not that people don’t think they can attain humility, it’s that they don’t want to.

The message of humility being a strong virtue is continuously getting muddled by today’s culture, which implies that success and humility are mutually exclusive. As Bobb points out, even rapper Kanye West said, “People always tell you be humble. When’s the last time someone told you be great? Be amazing? Be awesome.”

Unfortunately, this has transcended the entertainment world, and seems to be impacting our very government. From Kanye to Cruz, one gets the sense that some of the most talented figures in America — the “stars” we worship — too often embrace humility’s opposite: arrogance.

Certainly, the virtue of humility has been muddled in our recent culture. David J. Bobb’s book highlights how we must rediscover the value of the virtue of humility. Listen to streaming audio of our conversation. And download the podcast on iTunes.

Matt K. Lewis