By David Schussler 

 

The more I watch the candidates debate on television, the more I wonder, “Who are these people that we’ve put in positions of power?” TV Faces that I’ve seen for years are suddenly saying some pretty dumb things that I never heard them say before. Maybe I wasn’t always paying enough attention. I’ve always thought that I was a discerning part of the electorate, studying the issues and the candidates carefully but, you know, unless you see them and hear them speak, one can easily be fooled. Hell, we expect too much of our government leaders anyway, so why do we elect them, it’s always a compromise. We expect them to be as boy or girl scouts, “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” We expect them to have an impeccable code of moral ethics yet we could never agree on the code. Ethics can not even be impeccable. They can hardly be defined. I suppose if everyone was brought up in exactly the same fashion we could come close, but that’s impossible. Some of us grow up with an ease of life while others of us have to struggle just to survive. Neither predicates a syncronomous result. Regardless of our positions in life, our struggles in life can teach us a lot. Discipline, risk taking, and work ethics are often learned best by craftsmen, scientists, athletes, artists, and military personnel types through natural career struggles. “Creative” ethics are often best learned by philosophers, political scientists, law students, investors, and clergy. Common sense can be learned by everyone as they meander through life.

Our republic was created by a diversity of leaders with common sense. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights were designed and written as simple documents with simple objectives. Our lack of desire to remain truthful and honest has resulted in interpretations that require interpretations of these simple writings. Our government has become bloated with a bureaucracy of control, interpretation, taxation, and entitlements. What is lacking in the world and our government today is common sense, ( Described in the American Heritage Dictionary as “native good judgment”). Just the word “common” is defined as, (“belonging equally to all”, “pertaining to the whole community”, “standard”, “unrefined”).

When I think of common sense I am reminded of things my father would say to me, or my grandmother, or some wise elder or even wiser child in my life who popped up serendipitously. We tend to get so wrapped up in the details of life that we forget how simple and common our desires are with regard to government and representation. I am reminded of several quotations from a variety of people who were speaking or writing of situations similar to the politics of our world today, and that shall acquaint forever.

Historian, Lord Acton (1834-1902) issued epic warnings that political power is the most serious threat to liberty and defines liberty as “…liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end…liberty is the only object which benefits all alike, and provokes no sincere opposition…The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern…Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

“I exhort you never to debase the moral currency or to lower the standard of rectitude, but to try others by the final maxim that governs your own lives, and to suffer no man and no cause to escape the undying penalty which history has the power to inflict on wrong.”

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) once said “It is a strange desire to seek power and to lose liberty”.

Sir Henry Wotton, English scientist and ambassador (1568-1639) once wrote;

“How happy is he born and taught

That serveth not another’s will;

Whose honor is his honest thought,

And simple truth his utmost skill!….

This man is freed from servile bands,

Of hope to rise, or fear to fall;

Lord of himself, though not of lands,

And having nothing, yet hath all.”

I’m sure I could find some common sense in the writings of Samuel Clemens, Will Rogers, Benjamin Franklin, or your Grandpa. Bottom line is, that’s what we need to look for in our candidates for elected positions. The simpler and more common, the better. We don’t necessarily need lots of intellectuals to lead us, just hard working folks with horse sense, a knowledge of our complex society, and the ability to understand the needs and desires of a free people. We will never find perfection in leadership but we must set some standards for those whom we want to support for leaders, learn their history, and let them know how we feel. We, the people, are all in this together.

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