Civil Disobedience Questions and Answers
by Henry David Thoreau

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What is a summary of the paragraph that starts with, “I hear of a convention...” in "Civil Disobedience"?

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In this paragraph, Thoreau describes hearing about a political party convention to select that party's next presidential candidate, but he suggests that it really does not matter who is selected by this group of professional politicians and news editors. There are many independent voters, and there are many more people who do not attend these conventions than people who do. Then again, Thoreau reasons, most people just go ahead and vote for one of the candidates who have been selected in this way, buying into the illusion that those candidates are the only really viable ones. This, then, makes his vote virtually meaningless because it has been bought. He feels that, though the country is full of people, it lacks real men (by which he seems to refer to people who are self-reliant, thoughtful, deliberate in their actions). Americans have become known for being sociable, he says, and yet they lack self-reliance and intellect. The average American man checks to be sure that charity is available for those who need it (rather than actually working to correct the system which has left individuals destitute and impoverished) and then devotes his life to his employer (rather than himself) until his inevitable death.

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