Corrupt politicians have long been with us. That is not news. What IS news is the Founders’ genius in creating a Constitution that better understood and guarded against human corruption and power seekers. The buffers and boundaries of the Constitution are a defense against the majoritarian who would use ‘democracy’ to bludgeon the minority, and the tyrant who would seize unrestrained power for himself.
Yet even with these Constitutional defenses, “Our liberty will not long survive the total extinction of morals”, as Samuel Adams reminds us. And so the Founders call each of us to be a moral people and to elect politicians of character with a commitment to truth. This quote package, taken from The Founders’ Speech to a Nation in Crisis, is just a sampling of the Founders’ sentiments on the dangers of corruption in the hearts of men.
SCRIBE Men of corruption: JOHN ADAMS they obtain influence by noise, not sense – by meanness, not greatness by ignorance, not learning – by contracted hearts, not large souls. JOHN MILTON They make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven. THOMAS PANE And when they succeed to government, they are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions. SCRIBE Men of arrogance: ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE their admiration for absolute government proportionate to the contempt they feel for those around them. ADAM SMITH Men of systems, so wise in their own conceit; so enamored with the supposed beauty of their own ideal plan of government, they cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it, and go on to establish it completely and in all its parts. They imagine that they can arrange the different members of a great society with as much case as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chessboard.