Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
Rambling through my files (as I am wont to do) recently, I ran across a piece I wrote and published a little over three years ago. (September 2009) As I read through it again, I realized it was as fresh today as it was then and the theme was as apt/appropriate today as it was three years ago.
Now that we have had four years of Obama under our belt, some of the things I said three years ago may seem a bit more clear to you, the reader, today.
In the hope that this little visit to the past will help prepare us for the future I offer you the following:
“I cannot accept, your canon that we are to judge pope and king unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they do no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way against holders of power … Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”… Lord Acton
What will it take to convince Americans that the people we place in office ought to be of high moral character? I no longer think it is even possible. I no longer think Americans even care… as evidenced by the results of the presidential election, and numerous congressional elections, and even state and local elections around the country just last year.
We have become so accustomed to self serving, double-dealing, dishonest, greedy, callous, crafty, deceitful, duplicitous politicians that we now accept it as “normal”. What that says about Americans, as a people, is absolutely shameful. What it says about the future of America is terrifying!
I dare say ancient Rome was not as corrupt as America is today. We have managed to dumb down our populace, the voter base, the electorate, concerning what is expected of public servants, until we think nothing of electing to public office people of such low morals they ought not be allowed IN public, let alone serve in a public office. Nowadays, the use of the phrase “choosing the lesser of two evils,” when describing our choice of candidates, is in regular use… and we don’t even raise an eyebrow. Why? Because it is true!
James L. Buckley once said: ” What people fail to appreciate is that the currency of corruption in elective office is, not money, but votes.” He was spot on!
I am not surprised at the corruption of our politicians. How could I be? How could YOU be? It is we who elected them. It is we, the people of America, who bear the shame and the guilt for placing these people of low repute in offices that good men fought, bled, and died on foreign and domestic battlefields to secure for us. Do we not understand that we have disgraced our heritage? Do we not understand that we have brought shame upon our ancestors, upon our forefathers, upon The Founders of this nation, and… upon ourselves for not being good citizens and good stewards of this priceless jewel of a country?
Too long have we abrogated our singular duty to study the foundations of this country, the constitution of this country, the legal/judiciary system of this country, and, just as important, the government of this country, and… the way that government was intended to operate. We haven’t done any of this.
Our public education system has failed, utterly, in educating our young about their heritage as Americans. It has failed at instilling pride in our young as Americans. The angry cries of “nationalism” have drowned out “patriotism” until one is frowned upon for any public display of pride in America. There is something intrinsically wrong about that! In modern day America education has been devalued while ignorance is celebrated… even unto the voting booth! It is revolting!
Yes, I am angry. It is an anger born of frustration. I am frustrated with my fellow Americans who absolutely refused to see that substance does trump style every time. The percentage of the electorate who voted to place a man in office, primarily because of the color of his skin and, secondly, his eloquent way with words, have done America a huge disservice. The cost is going to be monumental, biblical, even.
One of the great men of the American Revolution, Samuel Adams, said this: “The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.”
I would draw your attention to the last portion of the last sentence above: “… or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.” THATis precisely where we find ourselves in America today. And we have no one, no one, to blame… but ourselves.
Are you ready for the years, immediately ahead, with tailgating scandals and stories of corruption and graft and the peccadilloes of powerful men unable to restrain themselves when let lose on an ignorant populace? You’d better be – for I am mighty afraid that is exactly where we are heading. The political shenanigans in Washington, to which we have, unfortunately, become accustomed, are, I’m afraid, only the tip of a vastly underestimated iceberg of such conduct. America’s ship of state is sailing directly into that iceberg.
J. D. Longstreet