THE IRON PEN by Daniel Hite

July 14, 2012

On Representation: Character is the Issue

When it comes to elections, voters and supporters use various yardsticks in choosing a candidate. Certainly issues, platforms and voting records are important, but one of the more recent and popular means is eyeing the individual campaign coffers. Deep pockets could mean out-advertising your opponents and saturating voters with your message, thus winning a media victory. Many campaign pundits and political junkies “follow the money” in this way, informing their predictions as well as their support. Be advised: Marshall McCluan’s 1960’s platitude, “Media is the message,” and his book, Media is the Massage, (not a typo) characterize this current political landscape perfectly. Massaging “the truth” with sound bites and mischaracterizations sells the uninformed electorate (as well as the politically savvy) a bill of goods. Whatever happened to character?

Instant internet information, sound bites and elevator version mission statements bespeak an electorate that does not take the time to get to know a candidate inside and out–to examine the character and constitution of a proposed public servant. What you see is what you get–be careful, looks can be deceiving. I don’t like what I hear–who are you listening to? Get rid of all incumbents–so the inexperienced can be manipulated by the DC insiders and bureaucrats? There is only one remedy for all this–character.

How do you know a candidate’s character? Be careful, this may get personal. Our culture has gotten so shallow in this area that many community candidate forums now disallow personal questions, and will only take issue-related questions. How sad. Our only public forums do not allow us to really get to know a candidate. Family, business, personal habits, religion, experience, should all be open season for individual and group settings. If a candidate can’t pass the smell test on these values-related issues, then how can I trust them with representing my values in the political arena? It takes time to develop solid character as well as to identify it. That is why homegrown, observed leadership is the best way, and then trusted endorsements and properly interpreted voting records are the next best. Hugo Grotius, 17th century Dutch philosopher and jurist wisely said,

He knows not how to rule a kingdom, that cannot manage a province; nor can he wield a province, that cannot order a city; nor he order a city, that knows not how to regulate a village; nor he a village, that cannot guide a family; nor can that man govern well a family that knows not how to govern himself; neither can any govern himself unless his reason be lord, will and appetite her vassals; nor can reason rule unless herself be ruled by God, and be obedient to Him.

There is no substitute for character–having it or observing it. Selecting representatives of proven character is the best way to insure solid representation. Even if a constituent may disagree with a particular issue, confidence is high in knowing that a reasoned and principled vote was offered by that representative. When character is not the baseline for choosing representatives, then voting records are subject to French revolution-style “mobocracy” (what our founding fathers called democracy)–the whim of the majority–and our historic republican/representative form of government is short-changed, cheapened, and eventually discarded.

By the way, Happy Bastille Day. (Certainly nothing to celebrate in America)

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1 Comment »

  1. T.G.I.M.! across the vast Prairie, July 16, 2012

    Dear Iron Pen:

    You got that right!!!

    God bless you and yours,

    the Williams’
    Upstate Illinois

    Comment by Bud and Nancy — July 16, 2012 @ 9:45 am | Reply


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