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Virtuous politician: oxymoron or paradox? | READER COMMENTARY

I fail to understand why Jonah Goldberg went the route of writing, ”if voting is virtuous, its virtue — like all virtue — derives from it being voluntary. Compelled virtue is an oxymoron” (”Jonah Goldberg: How an enduring myth about voter turnout distorts our politics,” Jan. 19). That is a lot to unpack in two sentences.

First of all, who claims voting is a “virtue” comparable to honesty, compassion, integrity and self-control? These virtues are too often absent in the conduct of those shameless politicians who flourish in our two-party system of governance. Voting has nothing to do with virtue, it is partisan politics covered with a veneer of supposed civic virtue, whatever that means.

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Plus, ”compelled virtue” is not an oxymoron, or a fusion of direct opposites like jumbo shrimp, it is a paradox. As a paradox, compelled virtue seems contradictory, but may be true in fact, specifically when it comes to the virtue of self-control. For what are criminal and traffic laws but examples of the compelled virtue of self-control or else face the consequences of some type of punishment?

However, even then, too often this “virtue” goes out the window with the bath water, minus the baby.

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Jim Giza, Baltimore

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