Letters to the Editor

Founders’ quotes are relevant today

To the Editor:

A while ago I read a quote attributed to one of the Founding Fathers that had to do with the presumption that the electorate possessed the knowledge and goodwill to successfully sustain a democracy.

I haven’t been able to find who said that or the exact wording. But I did find lots of other political quotes from the Founders that seemed particularly relevant in this election year. Here is a very small sampling of the ones that resonated with me:

“… we ought to live as brothers, doing to each other all the good we can, and not listening to wicked men, who may endeavor to make us enemies. By living in peace, we can help and prosper one another …”  (Thomas Jefferson)

“Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without a rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck.” (Thomas Jefferson)

“A government of laws and not of men.” (John Adams)

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“He that cannot obey, cannot command.” (Benjamin Franklin) 

Although the political wisdom of the Founding Fathers has remained remarkably sound over these many years, I did find a few examples which, at least in part, have not. Buried in the Federalist Papers (68) is the below passage. It refers to and advocates for the idea of an Electoral College. But this passage caught my attention not because of its argument but by its assumptions regarding moral certainties and requisite qualifications. Here it is:

“This process of election affords a moral certainty that the office of President will seldom fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” (Alexander Hamilton)

Those wise men of their time could not have anticipated this century’s divisive relativism regarding moral certainty and requisite qualifications.

These reminders from the past are as relevant in 2024 as they were when they were first spoken — more so even. But citizens of good will and common sense can still prevail. Let’s make that happen.

“Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country and the world.” (Sharon Salzberg)

“Every election is determined by the people who show up.” (Larry J. Sabato) 

Mase Lucas

Scaly Mountain

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