For decades — and particularly since the 2008 recession — politicians in both parties have mounted a strident campaign against government funding for the liberal arts. They express a growing disdain for any courses not explicitly tailored to the job market and outright contempt for the role the liberal arts-focused university has played in American society.
Higher education, with broad study in the liberal arts, is meant to create not merely good workers but good citizens. Citizens with knowledge of their history and culture are better equipped to lead and participate in a democratic society; learning in many different forms of knowledge teaches the humility necessary to accept other points of view in a pluralistic and increasingly globalized society.
Solon the Lawgiver, an Athenian statesman and lawmaker from the 6th century BCE, would likely approach the question of the state of American politics with a combination of curiosity and concern. While he would be impressed by the scale and complexity of American democracy, he would likely be troubled by the current polarization and divisiveness that characterizes American politics.
Solon believed in the importance of moderate, impartial governance, and he sought to establish a legal system that would promote justice and equality for all citizens. He would likely view the extreme partisanship and political gridlock in the United States as a significant threat to these values, and he would likely urge American leaders to seek compromise and work together to find solutions to the nation's most pressing problems.
Additionally, Solon was a proponent of political and economic reforms that would benefit all citizens, not just the wealthy and powerful. He would likely be concerned about the growing income inequality in the United States and the influence of money in politics, and he would likely advocate for policies that would promote greater equality and fairness.
Overall, Solon the Lawgiver would likely see both the strengths and weaknesses of American democracy, and he would urge American leaders and citizens to work together to address the challenges facing the nation and to uphold the principles of justice, equality, and fairness.