Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A President's Character -- 8

Sometimes crime victims can avoid becoming a victim.  Recently a kid was shot in our village.  At first it was frightening to think about random shootings happening right here in my neighborhood.  But it wasn't random.  When somebody decides to rip off somebody else in an illegal drug deal, it's no surprise when bullets fly.  But when honest people are minding their own business, not hurting anybody, and they are shot down, it's worse.

Powerful people have the power to destroy others, to ruin those who have done no harm.  If they lack character, there is no reason to refrain from using their power to hurt the little people.  That is why character matters.

A President's Character -- 7

Schools cannot teach everything that a person will need to know.  That's why it's important that students learn to think and to research and to teach themselves.  They need to be able to function on their own in days to come, in matters that are unforeseen.

Same thing regarding whom to vote for.  No one can foresee what kind of terrorist attacks we may face, what kinds of wars will be waged against us, what kind of health epidemics may arise, what kind of environmental disasters may occur.  We must choose leaders who have the character and integrity and wisdom to surround themselves with wise advisors and to choose a safe direction through the troubles. 

No matter how important the issues are, we don't vote for issues (except on referenda).  We don't vote for a platform.  We vote for a person.  And then we must trust that the person will make the right decisions when faced with currently-unknown situations.    That's why character matters.

A President's Character -- 6

I hate it when people lie to me.  If I catch you in a lie, my respect for you goes down.  If I catch you in several lies, I will be suspicious of everything you say for years and years.

I know that nearly all politicians will fudge the truth, not keep all their promises, and do some outright lying.  But lots of them do stay true to a good chunk of what they espouse.  Somebody who runs on an environmental platform may cast some votes that are not what most environmentalists would prefer.  Some anti-abortion congressmen will cast votes that are not fully consistent with pro-life values.  But overall, you know where they stand.

When a person makes a career out of lies and hypocrisy, you don't have any idea what you're voting for.  That's one of the reasons why character matters.

A President's Character -- 5

Government is not the Church.  Government is not supposed to forgive sinners.  Government isn't even supposed to take care of people.  Government has the job of keeping order.  Government's main job is to punish bad guys so that good guys can go about their lives.  There are other things government does, where we all unite to do things bigger than we can do individually: build roads, operate libraries, have a single monetary system.  But these projects can be accomplished without government.  Maintaining order, on the other hand, requires some sort of authority who can punish.

Thing is, though, government's authority comes from the authority of fathers and the authority of God's word.  Even pagan governments, whether we recognize it or not, are wielding the power of God.  When they work opposite of God's law (when they reward the bad guys and punish the good guys) they are, without realizing it, undermining their own authority.  They're shooting themselves in the foot.

That's why we need leaders --regardless of what religion they are-- who will keep the innocent safe from those who would harm them. 

People who are themselves predators are not likely to do a good job of defending the innocent.  Thus, character matters.

A President's Character -- 4

I am under no illusion that presidents, governors, justices, and representatives have been above reproach.  Hardly! 

But there was a day when the big boss of the political "Machine" in a city had to keep up appearances.  There was a day when the philandering politician had to pretend to be happily married, and keep his mistress a secret.  There was a day when embezzlement and fraud were scandalous, instead of evidence of someone being "an astute businessman."

It is bad, but not uncommon, for a politician to live a sinful life behind closed doors.
It is far worse for a politician to celebrate that he takes advantage of people and to advocate for greed.
And it is worse yet when the voters give thumbs-up to this evil worldview.

A President's Character -- 3

But WHY?  Why is morality necessary for freedom?  Maybe morality is necessary in the people, but not necessarily in the elected representatives.  Why is it necessary in politics? 
In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate -- look at his character. It is alleged by men of loose principles, or defective views of the subject, that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, men of truth, hating covetousness. It is to the neglect of this rule that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breaches of trust, speculations and embezzlements of public property which astonish even ourselves; which tarnish the character of our country and which disgrace our government. When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility; he not only sacrifices his own responsibility; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country. (Noah Webster)
Even if we disagree with Noah Webster's comments on scripture and the fear of God, it still stands to reason that those lacking high moral character will have no qualms about fraud and embezzlement.  Their power can be used for selfish purposes rather than for serving the nation.
If the citizens neglect their Duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the Laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizen will be violated or disregarded.  (Noah Webster)
Legislating from the bench.
Bribes and extortion.
People punished for refusing to violate their conscience and God's word.

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their appetites; in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity; in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption; in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsel of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.  (Edmund Burke)

Something must control the sinful inclinations.  If it's not a person's morality, it must be force and power of government.  But if the people in government are immoral, and if they are aiming for immoral principles, then a society continues to collapse.

Quotes found at the website "Quotes on Liberty and Virtue.

A President's Character -- 2

Freedom cannot long exist without morality.

George Washington: Virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.

George Washington:  Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.

George Washington: Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people.

Benjamin Franklin:  Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.

Montesquieu (quoted by Thomas Jefferson):  When virtue is banished, ambition invades the minds of those who are disposed to receive it, and avarice possesses the whole community.

Alexander Hamilton: The institution of delegated power implies that there is a portion of virtue and honor among mankind which may be a reasonable foundation of confidence.

James Madison: To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without virtue in the people, is a chimerical* idea.

Patrick Henry: Bad men cannot make good citizens.... A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom.  No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue.

John Adams: Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

John Adams: Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.

Samuel Johnson: No people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous.

Quotes found at the website "Quotes on Liberty and Virtue."

* chimerical = outlandish

A President's Character -- 1

My friend Cheryl wrote an article and spoke on Issues Etc about character.  The first question Todd asked was, "Why do you reject the idea that character no longer matters in our nation's leaders?"

I was stymied by the question.

I listened to Cheryl's response.  I agree with much of what she said, but somehow I didn't find it to be a fully satisfactory answer.  After pondering through some of my chores and projects today, I still do not have a satisfactory answer, but I'm getting closer.

First, though, it should be jaw-dropping to us that we have come to a place where this question even needs to be asked.  If character doesn't matter, then it's okay to have a scoundrel in charge.  Think of that for a minute:  "Shame on you for questioning whether we should put a scoundrel into office.  Why should you be leery of that?!"  Obviously, throughout history, bad dudes have often led countries.  But that might've been due to a coup or because of a king's divine right.  It's usually not because those who were being governed chose to have scoundrels governing them.  We prefer to have honorable men as our leaders.  Duh!

But if we're going to ask questions where the answer should be so obvious that the question shouldn't need to be answered, ... what is the answer?

Quotes from the founding fathers about morality.
Quotes about corrupt leaders.
Bragging about immorality.
Immorality of leaders undermines their own authority.
Voting for a person, not a platform.
A reason to refrain from abusing power.