Lingamfelter: Rare Leaders
Where are the leaders? In the course of American history, leaders of vision have blessed our nation. That was certainly the case with our Founding Fathers. These men were highly educated. That alone is a lesson for us today. There is no substitute for leaders to be knowledgeable, to understand history, to have read and consumed the classis of the enlightenment age, and to be deeply rooted in the Greek and Roman experience in shaping and forming early versions of a functioning republic. The Founders understood all of this and drew on their knowledge as they drafted the Declaration of Independence and later the Constitution of the United States.
Both documents are the DNA of our republic today and represent our birthright as a nation. But both are under attack as little more than the musings of “dead white men” by some who would cast them aside and take our nation in the wrong direction. Were they alive today, our Founders would be quite clear. Those who would jettison the fundamentals of enlightenment, the rule of law, the balancing of power between the Federal and State governments, and the separation of powers between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government are putting us on the path of tyranny and disunion.
Leaders today who understand this threat and are willing to stand against those who would destroy the nation are in short supply. Many people who attempt to portray themselves as leaders are not. Their motivation is largely the attainment of power and prestige. Not all are of the manner. Some actually still hold to the notion of service to nation and state. They have not forgotten that the Founders placed great emphasis on the idea that it is the people who are the sovereign while those that we elect are the servants.
Moreover, our Founders understood that public service was not designed to enshrine those we elect to permanent office. In their estimate, elected leaders would serve for a season and then return to private life where they would live under the same laws they wrote for everyone else. Unfortunately, career politicians tend to be the rule rather than the exception.
Nonetheless, we have had some exceptionally good political leaders over the years who were politicians for decades. It must be regarded that experience can make a person wiser, enhancing them to govern wisely. But that too is the exception, not the rule.
Witness America today and ask yourself if you can truly identify elected leaders who possess the same insight and degree of knowledge that was a work when the Founders crafted our nation? If you have ever read the Federalist Papers, you would be stunned by the breadth and depth of the wisdom our Founder’s possessed. Those who assert that the Founders were evil then or irrelevant today are ignorant. They almost certainly have never read the Federalist, which—taken as a whole—describes in great detail their thinking about why America needed the Constitution to establish a just and workable government that would guarantee our individual rights and the rule of law.
All of this is at risk today. Our contemporary leaders are far more connected to their pursuit of power than efforts to limit the power of government over our lives, our families, and our vocations, so we are able to secure the American dream. The Declaration of Independence says it best.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Are our leaders of today of this mind? Do they subordinate the power of government to protect our lives, our liberty, and our pursuit of happiness? One must wonder if they are given the facts. We have evolved as a nation from having a government that protects freedom to one that hands out money to people hand over fist. Our Founders wanted us to be successful as individuals enjoying the rights associated with true liberty. But they never in their wildest dreams viewed the government as a provider of individual success, but rather to guarantor of the opportunity to pursue that success, indeed “happiness.”
Where are the leaders who understand that proposition? We need them now more than ever. But they are rare.