What IS Right With America? A Checklist for Every Candidate
“A frequent recurrence to the fundamental principles of the constitution, and a constant adherence to those of piety, justice, moderation, temperance, industry, and frugality, are absolutely necessary to preserve the advantages of liberty and to maintain a free government. The people ought, consequently, to have a particular attention to all those principles, in the choice of their officers and representatives; and they have a right to require of their lawgivers and magistrates an exact and constant observation of them, in the formation and execution of the laws necessary for the good administration of the commonwealth.” Article 18, Part of the First, Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1780
My mother would have referred to Article 18, Part of the First, of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as “just plain old common sense.” Our liberty is more likely to be preserved, and the government will be restrained to function in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution, if the people follow these two simple practices:
The first practice is to examine the “piety, justice, moderation, temperance, industry, and frugality” of those people who seek to occupy positions of power over them. It is both a simple and practical list of characteristics and behavioral patterns. First on the list is the candidate’s character. While it is convenient to demean the examination of a candidate’s character as old-fashioned, judgmental, or politically incorrect, the way in which a person has conducted himself or herself is indicative of how decisions will be made in the future. Has the candidate engaged in behavior which might compromise his or her future decisions? Will the candidate lash out in anger, or seek to persecute those who hold different opinions, once elected to office. Is the candidate capable of behaving in a moderate or temperate fashion, or will she or he govern based on ideological extremism or the desire for sweeping change? Next on the list is justice. The concept of “justice” has two distinct areas for examination. To what extent has the candidate adhered to the law in all areas of his or her life? I daresay that no citizen can honestly say that she or he has lived life above reproach and never broken a single law. Once again, it is the frequency and severity of past actions that is in question. Also, does the candidate understand the principle of the rule of law? Does she or he consider the United States to be a nation of laws, or is it a nation functioning under the whim of its leaders? Finally, there are the principles of industry and frugality. Hard work and living within one’s means are tried and true principles most Americans hold in high esteem. Yet, we have often elected those who have not demonstrated a work ethic or a willingness to carefully spend money taken from citizens through taxes or fees. How differently might an individual’s decisions be if she or he had struggled to operate a business, as well as lived a debt-free existence? Again, all individuals have flaws, but time spent examining a candidate’s past using these six criteria would seem to far outweigh listening to a speech full of empty campaign rhetoric.
Of course, simply electing a candidate who best demonstrates those six criteria is not sufficient to insure that the government will operate as it should. The people must be vigilant. They must, in no uncertain terms, be the oversight committee who holds the feet of elected officials to the fire, so that power does not pull good men and women down into the mire of corruption.
Please take a moment today to consider using the simple checklist for judging candidates that was created by John Adams and his fellow authors of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. So many recent elections have seemed to be about who is the lesser of two evils. What if the people demanded that the destructive circus surrounding elections which is often focused on minutia and the sound bite-of-the-moment be replaced? What if, instead, a candidate was judged upon those six criteria set forth in Article 18? Then, after assuming office, the elected official should conduct himself or herself in a manner consistent with those six principles while forming and executing laws for the good of the country. Conducting oneself along a steady course (such as seen in the attached picture of the Stehekin River in North Cascades National Park) using the principles of piety, justice, moderation, temperance, industry, and frugality might indeed be What IS Right With America.