Virtuous and Moral Leaders
We continue in our attempt to synopsize the Founders’ great ideas in W. Cleon Skousen’s wonderful book The Five Thousand Year Leap. We discussed in a previous article the Founders’ belief that a free people cannot survive under a republican constitution unless they remain virtuous and morally strong. They also believed the most promising method of securing a virtuous and morally stable people is to elect virtuous leaders.
Two scriptures were quoted extensively in the late 18th Century; Proverbs 29:2 and Exodus 18:21. Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Exodus 18:21 states in part, “…thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness [unjust gain]; and place such over them, to be rulers…” Our Founders took these scriptures to heart.
Professor Skousen quotes Samuel Adams, who wrote, “the truest friend to liberty is one who tries most to promote virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer [allow] a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man.” Samuel Adams went on to say that “public officials should not be chosen if they are lacking in experience, training, proven virtue, and demonstrated wisdom.” Oh if we only had followed Samuel Adams’ advice and chosen a President who had experience, training, virtue, and wisdom in 2008!
James Madison, the author of our Constitution, believed in the fallen nature of man and he reasoned that if people were to govern themselves and have the best possible government, then a political process should be developed that allowed only the wisest, most experienced, and most virtuous to be elected to public office. Madison expressed this thought in Federalist No. 51 when he wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
Thomas Jefferson believed that the best citizens should accept major roles in public life. In describing Jefferson’s belief, Professor Skousen writes, “he felt one of the greatest threats to the new government would be the day when the best qualified people refused to undertake the tedious, arduous, and sometimes unpleasant task of filling important public offices.”
Our Founders believed that public office should be an honor rather than a position of profit. While in Europe in 1777, Benjamin Franklin noted that European political leaders were paid handsomely. Professor Skousen recounts Franklin explaining to a friend about public service in America, “In America, salaries, where indispensable, are extremely low; but much of public business is done gratis.” Ten years later, Franklin addressed the Constitutional Convention. He said, “Sir, there are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambitions and avarice; the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but when united in view of the same object, they have in many minds the most violent effects.”
Franklin foresaw the possibility of profit in public office becoming the means by which an American monarchy could eventually arise. Of course we do not call it a monarchy, but who can argue that our President has not assumed monarchial powers? Our current administration and congress usurp powers they don’t have and refuse to do what they are required to do. The President acts like a King and the Congress believes they are the House of Lords! We should have elected virtuous and moral leaders.
Please remember this great idea from the Founders on November 2, 2010 and only vote for virtuous and moral candidates. We must take back our government.
The next principle to be discussed is our Founders belief in the role of religion.
For greater information on this and other founding principles, please see The Five Thousand Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen.