Pursuing Perfection

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I found Shade’s commentary at the end of Beyond the Founders intriguing for a variety of reasons. As AJ mentioned, it was certainly difficult to wade through at first, but I think that noting progress of the historical tradition moving from focusing around only a select group of leaders, to political parties, towards the everyday experiences of common people depicts an interesting series developments in the field of history and reiterates in many ways what our class sought to achieve this semester. The goal of engaging with popular politics, outside of official institutions of political authority, has become the focus of modern research in the field of history and Shade places it into a longer narrative of progress that has sought to achieve a more complete and accurate portrayal of history. A few questions that came to mind when I thought about these developments, namely how with this change in focus affect the memory of these events? Another was that if this is part of a larger process, what is the next step, what else could be better analyzed and what perspectives are we overlooking as historians? And most importantly, what are we going to name that next step, New New New Political History? (I jest, but a little creativity wouldn’t hurt, would it?) I don’t have answers to these questions, but I think they’re important to keep in mind as we write and research.
Regarding the other article on the informed citizenry, the thing that immediately popped into my head was the opening from the Newsroom (which I hopefully succeeded in attaching). While I think that Brown’s article raised a number of fair points on the importance of an informed citizenry and modern concerns of its decline, his analysis of such concerns as a historical phenomenon connect it Shade’s commentary quite well. Specifically, that while fears and shortcomings may be focused upon, a willingness to be critical of oneself is important in progressing towards a more idealized version of your goal, be it an accurate historical representation or a informed citizenry.