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Presidential Character October 19, 2008

Posted by vsap in 2008 Presidential Election, Blogroll, Uncategorized, US Politics.
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Mark Alexander, publisher of Patriot Post, penned “Presidential Character” for a recent email to subscribers. In part, here is what he wrote:

“This is not the Democrat Party envisioned by Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Harry Truman, much less its founder, Thomas Jefferson, who would not recognize even the most vestigial elements of his once-noble Party. (This dramatic transition is evident in the Democrat Party Platforms from Kennedy to Obama.)

When asked why he left the Democrat Party, perhaps the most famous of former Democrats said, “I did not leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.” That was Ronald Reagan, who earned the respect and support of an enormous number of Democrats during his presidency. His observation, “the Party left me,” has never been more true than today.

For several months, we have heard and observed two presidential candidates, centrist Republican John McCain and liberal Democrat Barack Obama. It should by now, be obvious to all of us who put our country first, which of these candidates possess the high qualities of a statesman, and the prerequisite moral and civic virtues for an American president.

Unfortunately, too many of my fellow Americans have difficulty distinguishing these qualities.

Every four years, at the peak of presidential election cycles, we’re told by the talkingheads and the party hacks that “this election is the most important in our lifetimes.” This time, however, they may be right. These are indeed perilous times.

Our nation is facing crises on several critical fronts, including an historic economic disaster, the resolution of which will require the steady hand of a statesman in possession of outstanding character — character that has been honed over his lifetime, character that is proven consistent with our nation’s legacy of liberty and equality.

That reformed Democrat, Ronald Reagan, wrote, “The character that takes command in moments of crucial choices has already been determined by a thousand other choices made earlier in seemingly unimportant moments. It has been determined by all the ‘little’ choices of years past — by all those times when the voice of conscience was at war with the voice of temptation, [which was] whispering the lie that ‘it really doesn’t matter.’ It has been determined by all the day-to-day decisions made when life seemed easy and crises seemed far away — the decision that, piece by piece, bit by bit, developed habits of discipline or of laziness; habits of self-sacrifice or self-indulgence; habits of duty and honor and integrity — or dishonor and shame.”

For the first and final word on the necessary character traits the next president should possess, let’s return to our foundation, our Founders, those who risked all to proclaim our individual rights and responsibilities as ordained by God, and outlined them in our Declaration of Independence and its subordinate exposition, our Republic’s Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson: “It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution. … If a nation expects to be ignorant — and free — in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. … The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail. … An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.”

George Washington: “No compact among men … can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other. …[A] good moral character is the first essential in a man, and that the habits contracted [early in life] are generally indelible, and your conduct here may stamp your character through life. It is therefore highly important that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous.”

At the end of the Revolution, when our Founders were endeavoring “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” Founding brothers Alexander Hamilton and John Jay and our Constitution’s author, James Madison, wrote The Federalist Papers, its most authentic and comprehensive explication.

In Federalist No. 1, Hamilton warned, “Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants.”

Sound familiar?

In No. 10, Madison cautions, “Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm,” and insisted in No. 57, “The aim of every political Constitution is or ought to be first to obtain for rulers, men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous, whilst they continue to hold their public trust.”

The Founders thus warned of the perils posed by the candidate who lacks political courage; the candidate who tells us everything we want to hear.

In November 1800, John Adams, in his fourth year as president, wrote to his wife Abigail, “I Pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessing on this house, and on ALL that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof!”

We should all pray likewise, now, today, this minute.

As Adams understood, “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

Almost two centuries later, Ronald Reagan reiterated, “Freedom is … never more than one generation away from extinction. Every generation has to learn how to protect and defend it, or it’s gone and gone for a long, long time.”

So, what of the current generation of voters, and the two presidential candidates?

On 4 November, one of these candidates will receive a majority of electoral votes, and in January, be seated as our next president. But for sure, this election is much more than a referendum on the two candidates; it is a referendum on the ability of Americans to discern between one candidate who possesses the character and integrity of a statesman, which the office of president requires, and one who does not.

At this pivotal moment in our nation’s history, let’s hope that a majority of us have sufficient courage and character to make that distinction, and vote on what we know rather than how we feel.

Let’s put country first.”

I suppose it might be said better and more compactly by others, but this is rooted in truth that would seem self-evident. If it still isn’t to you, investigate it thoroughly before you vote on November 4.

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