Trust A Politician? NEVER!

Posted By on December 1, 2010

To even the most cursory observers of American history the change experienced within American politics and government has resulted in a major transformation of the federal government, our views of the Constitution and our tendencies when voting. Much is said today about the character (or lack of), honesty (or lack of), integrity (or lack of), experience (or lack of), values (or lack of) and seniority (or lack of) the politicians in America today. In my opinion, this is the singularly most telling aspect of the changes from the founding generation.

Today, Congress holds to an approval rating of less than, on average, 15%; and yet, we continue to re-elect the majority of these same individuals. This past election is a rare exception to the rule, BUT we still see the same characters returned to Washington on a regular basis. Why? We’ve been brainwashed to believe they have our best interests in mind, contrary to their actions. Our votes have been bought by the large amounts of federal dollars coming into our districts and states, in a totally un-Constitutional manner if I may say so. The American public suffers from an extreme level of lack of knowledge in history, the Constitution and the manner in which the current government functions.

If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men; so that we do not depend upon their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people, who are to choose them. (Quoted in Jonathan Elliot, ed., The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, 5 vols, [Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1901], 3:536-37; emphasis added.) 1

Or, how about one of my favorite quotes:

In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but
bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” Thomas
Jefferson, Kentucky Resolutions, 1798 (emphasis added)

Then we have George Washington’s admonitions in his Farewell Address, which includes:

…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. George Washington, Farewell Address, 1798 (Emphasis added)

Or Benjamin Franklin:

…I think with you, that nothing is of more importance for the public weal, than to form and train up youth in wisdom and virtue. Wise and good men are, in my opinion, the strength of the state; more so than riches or arms…. (Emphases added) 2

Our founding fathers placed more confidence in the public, the people than they did in the politicians and leaders. Politicians and leaders should be men, and women, of virtue, and worthy of our respect, honor and thus able leaders; BUT if they fail in their elected duties THEN the American public should be educated enough to discern there failures and improprieties and to either RECALL them, OR vote them out of office. We have done neither, and have abdicated our power to men and women of ill-repute, limited experienced, dubious reputation, questionable integrity and just basically who are crooks. We re-elect them, over and over and over again because they steal from the public coffers to secure their popularity.

So, if we continue to re-elect politicians of this ilk, then what does that say of us? What does is it speak of our integrity, our virtue, our character? What can be said of the character and virtue of the nation as a whole? Is it any wonder then how we are reviled among the nations? Or does it more speak to our own corruption and viciousness?

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. (Smyth, Writings of Benjamin Franklin,  9:569) (Emphases added) 3

Have we then fulfilled the insight our Mr. Franklin? Is the corruption and viciousness in Washington only a reflection of our own? Are the politicians simply fulfilling the our own expectations to have someone take care of us, because we cannot take care of ourselves?

We desire a return to our national greatness. We take the names of the founding generation to give the impression of adherence to its principles, BUT to truly return to its principles we must take a good hard look at ourselves. We don’t trust the politicians, but I would say we trust ourselves even less. To truly return to the patterns and principles of the Republic, then we must follow the example of the founding generation in deed, and not word only.

Many Americans became extremely self-conscious about their lack of “public virtue” because of non-involvement in the affairs of government. They began to acknowledge their obsession with self-interest, the neglect of public affairs, and their disdain for the needs of the community as a whole. Gradual, a spirit of “sacrifice and reform” became manifest in all thirteen colonies.

Looking back on that period, one historian wrote:

In the eyes of the Whigs, the two or three years before the Declaration of Independence always appears to be the great period of the Revolution, the time of greatest denial and cohesion, when men ceased to extort and abuse one another, when families and communities seemed peculiarly united, when the courts were wonderfully free of that constant bickering over land and credit that had dominated their colonial life. (Quoted in Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, p. 102) 4

We need a revival of national virtue and morality, starting on the level of the individual, BUT until then we must hold our elected officials responsible for their actions, and bind them with the chains of the Constitution.

(You will note that I am quoting often from The 5000 Year Leap. It is by far one of the best books I have read, and presents the material in the easiest and simplest of manners. To purchase this book go to the Recommended Reading page to order it online.)

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1 The 5000 Year Leap, W. Cleon Skousen, National Center for Constitutional Studies, © 2006, p. 54

2 Ibid, p. 55

3 Ibid, p. 49

4 Ibid, p. 52

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