What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: And-rey
In the representative system, the reason for everything must publicly appear. Every man is a proprietor in government, and considers it a necessary part of his business to understand. It concerns his interest, because it affects his property. He examines the cost, and compares it with the advantages; and above all, he does not adopt the slavish custom of following what in other governments are called LEADERS. (Thomas Paine, via Quoty)
The litmus test for any representative system is how well the populace feels it is being represented. Once a disconnect is apparent, the sycophantic “representatives” should be hurled from office.
Here Paine masterfully explains why it is the duty of every American to understand and be involved in politics. It governs so many aspects of our lives that an abdication of that responsibility equates to voluntary slavery.
We have been counseled to so be involved by both former and current leaders:
The Elders of Israel should “understand that they have something to do with the world politically as well as religiously, that it is as much their duty to study correct political principles as well as religious.” (John Taylor, via Quoty)
We urge Church members to register to vote, to study the issues and candidates carefully and prayerfully, and then vote for those they believe will most nearly carry out their ideas of good government…. (First Presidency Letter, July 31, 2004)
It is especially interesting to note the wording of Paine’s last sentence. We must be very careful in referring to and treating our elected representatives as “leaders”. Why? Repetitive history (both secular and scriptural) clearly shows the rampant corruption in government and conspiratorial actions of those in power. With questionable men as our leaders, the people are left to mourn.
Seeing such men as our leaders puts “We the People” into a subservient, obsequious role. Such was not the intent of our Founding Fathers who instituted a republic in order that the people might maintain an awareness of governmental affairs and make their voices heard through their representatives (not leaders). Paine elaborates on the importance of having a republic in this regard:
Every government that does not act on the principle of a Republic, or in other words, that does not make the res-publica [public good] its whole and sole object, is not good government. Republican government is no other than government established and conducted for the interest of the public, as well individually as collectively. (Thomas Paine, via Quoty)
Our republic by nature of its very name should serve the “public good”. Sadly, such is not the case in our day. Special interests, lobbyists, and corporate America have the government in a taut grasp and will not easily let go, if ever.
Why is this so?
It is for no other reason than that We the People have shirked our responsibility as government watchdogs and American citizens, outsourcing our responsibilities to those we have elected into power to supposedly represent us.
Or, in Paine’s words, we have become slaves to our leaders.