John Stuart Mill said
… the very principle of constitutional government requires it to be assumed, that political power will be abused to promote the particular purposes of the holder; not because it always is so, but because such is the natural tendency of things…
And that’s the thing, isn’t it? One of the reasons we vote is to vote for whoever we believe will abuse the power we grant them less. Yes, that’s a pretty low standard, but over the years, well centuries, it has proven to be a valid one.
To me, maybe partly because I’m an American, I’ve always thought it applied more to us than to other countries, because as Jessica (who is British) has written here several , “Other countries are a place, America is a dream”. She’s right, you know, we are American because somebody in our ancestry, or we ourselves, followed that dream. Maybe for a better material life, maybe for a more politically free life, maybe to follow their religion free from interference, maybe for other reasons, or for all of them.
It has always been thus, in America. Way back in 1630, John Winthrop said
…for wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world…
And so it is still.
So, tomorrow we will vote for a new president. Like all presidents, he will find he has both more power than can be imagined, and at the same time less power than he hoped, for good or ill. This has been a very distressing campaign, for all of us, and I suspect any who read here have made up their minds. So be it. I’m not going to argue the case anymore. Vote for the candidate you think fulfills the need best. But remember, this country was founded to give the individual in community the best shot at being successful, however, success is designed. It was not founded to make your life easy from cradle to grave.
Out here along the Oregon Trail, where I live, it used to be said, “The sick never started, and the weak died along the way.” That’s pretty much America, right there. It is not now, and never was, a country for the weak. Those people that braved the Atlantic in small wooden ships, in steerage, however, they got here really did not expect to find the streets paved with gold. A promised land it may have been, but it has never been a land of milk and honey. It’s a country built on sacrifice and very hard work, as well as personal responsibility for you and yours.
But the hard work and the sacrifice paid off. It paid off well enough that Russian immigrants wrote home ecstatically, “Here, we eat wheaten bread, everyday.” Where they came from, they were lucky to have a chunk of wheat bread on holidays.
So by all means vote, it is, after all, your right. But remember this too, it is your responsibility, and your duty, to vote for the person you think will do the best by you, and by America.
And remember what Thomas Paine said in An American Crisis
To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture. Enjoy, sir, your insensibility of feeling and reflecting. It is the prerogative of animals. And no man will envy you these honors, in which a savage only can be your rival and a bear your master.