In the Arena

Booth Tarkington
In the Arena (Stories of Political
Life) [with accents]

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Title: In the Arena Stories of Political Life
Author: Booth Tarkington
Release Date: August, 2005 [EBook #8740] [Yes, we are more than
one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on August 6,

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Stories of Political Life



Boss Gorgett The Aliens The Need of Money Hector
Mrs. Protheroe Great Men's Sons

The old-timer, a lean, retired pantaloon, sitting with loosely slippered
feet close to the fire, thus gave of his wisdom to the questioning
"Looking back upon it all, what we most need in politics is more good
men. Thousands of good men are in; and they need the others who are
not in. More would come if they knew how much they are needed. The

dilettantes of the clubs who have so easily abused me, for instance, all
my life, for being a ward-worker, these and those other reformers who
write papers about national corruption when they don't know how their
own wards are swung, probably aren't so useful as they might be. The
exquisite who says that politics is 'too dirty a business for a gentleman
to meddle with' is like the woman who lived in the parlour and
complained that the rest of her family kept the other rooms so dirty that
she never went into them.
"There are many thousands of young men belonging to what is for
some reason called the 'best class,' who would like to be 'in politics' if
they could begin high enough up--as ambassadors, for instance. That is,
they would like the country to do something for them, though they
wouldn't put it that way. A young man of this sort doesn't know how
much he'd miss if his wishes were gratified. For my part, I'd hate not to
have begun at the beginning of the game.
"I speak of it as a game," the old gentleman went on, "and in some
ways it is. That's where the fun of it comes in. Yet, there are times
when it looks to me more like a series of combats, hand-to-hand fights
for life, and fierce struggles between men and strange powers. You buy
your newspaper and that's your ticket to the amphitheatre. But the
distance is hazy and far; there are clouds of dust and you can't see
clearly. To make out just what is going on you ought to get down in the
arena yourself. Once you're in it, the view you'll have and the fighting
that will come your way will more than repay you. Still, I don't think
we ought to go in with the idea of being repaid.
"It seems an odd thing to me that so many men feel they haven't any
time for politics; can't put in even a little, trying to see how their cities
(let alone their states and the country) are run. When we have a war,
look at the millions of volunteers that lay down everything and answer
the call of the country. Well, in politics, the country needs all the men
who have any patriotism--not to be seeking office, but to watch and to
understand what is going on. It doesn't take a great deal of time; you
can attend to your business and do that much, too. When wrong things
are going on and all the good men understand them, that is all that is
needed. The wrong things stop going on."

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