“Self-love . . . is the sole antagonist of virtue, leading us constantly by our propensities to self-gratification in violation of our moral duties to others.” Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Founding Father and the 3rd American President
What is virtue? The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as conformity to a standard of moral excellence, or of valor. It is a human quality that is usually admired, but rarely sought or expected, especially it seems, in politics. Why is that do you think? Why is virtue a standard that we want to instill in our children, but resigned to never see in those we choose to represent us in government? Can our elected officials truly represent a virtuous people if they themselves refuse to practice it?
I guess then the next question to ask is this: are we a virtuous people? Or have we so turned ourselves over to self-love that we have forgotten what it means to strive for something greater than ourselves? Self-love will always put off the good of others for the good of self, sacrifice the good of the future for the good of the present, and leave emptiness as its only lasting legacy. I find it hard to believe that my fellow Americans are in such a place, that we have left behind our virtue and substituted only vice, or that we are content with doing what is convenient instead of doing what is right.
No greater evidence of this is the fact that ordinary Americans are now rising up to shake up Washington. We have moved on from protests that can easily be ignored, to running for office and as convention delegates that cannot be silenced. We no longer see a particular political party as the problem, but see the long time establishment of both parties as the problem. And when I refer to the “establishment,” I mean those in party leadership that are more concerned about sustaining their power than sustaining our country. And as we have already seen, the establishment is quite willing to sacrifice anything, even America’s future, to preserve the status quo. We saw this recently at the Republican Convention, when the party leaders forced a change of the rules (ignoring the elected delegates) in order to prevent a possible anti-establishment takeover. And we are seeing disillusionment within the Democrat party as well, as its members grow ever more frustrated with its leaders sowing hate, division and class warfare in order to maintain party power, instead of unifying the country and making it stronger.
Unfortunately for the leaders of both parties, the horse is already out of the barn. What has been done cannot be undone. It is too late to stop an idea whose time has come, or in reality, an idea that has been resurrected in the hearts of American men and women. What was derided by one political party, and merely used by the other, has now come to quickly be feared by both. Neither party establishment seems to realize is that ordinary Republicans and Democrats actually love this country. We cherish liberty. We demand accountability. We expect virtue. Sure we may differ on ideas, but ultimately we both want what is best for this country, and are not willing to allow those who are comfortable with power destroy her just to maintain it. This generation is no longer content to remain silent, as we seek to protect not only our own liberty but that of our children and our children’s children. It is only a matter of time now; the status quo peddlers are already slowly being replaced, election by election, with those who love this country and their children more than themselves.
Virtue may be an alien trait in Washington DC, but it lives on in the hearts of Americans. It’s time that we bring the goodness of America to our government by electing men and women of virtue. Until we do, how can we possibly expect them to truly represent us?
“The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, they may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.” John Adams (1735-1826), Founding Father and the 2nd American President