Perspectives: Beware the power seekers

OPINION – Between the distractions of election rallies, incessant political ads and the emotional campaigning, it’s easy to forget exactly why our governing systems exist in the first place.

They exist to make and enforce rules governing human conduct.

This means that every rule or official policy carries some form of punishment that can be used to deprive an individual of his life, liberty or property.

As voters, we each bear personal responsibility for how the government behaves as our agent. When government becomes abusive, it is because the voting public has allowed it to do so through the people they elect.

Blogger Eric Peters explains:

Remember that what we call “the government” is just us, collectively. We elect representatives. They pass laws. But ultimately, “the government” is no wiser or more righteous than each of us individually.

For this reason, our nation’s founders placed strict limits upon government power and enumerated exactly what it should be allowed to do.

Unfortunately, human nature is extremely consistent in how most men react to being given power. Those who attain some degree of authority tend to use that power to force others to do as they demand.

When this tendency is combined with the coercive power of government, people tend to become busybodies with no sense of personal responsibility or conscience.

This is why politics tends to draw power seekers like moths to a porch light.

Differentiating between those who are power seekers and those who would instead serve the people who elect them is an essential part of voting responsibly.

As a general rule, we should always be wary of any candidate who is a little too eager to exercise political power over others. Likewise, those who promise to use that power to bring home favors to those who elect them are typically doing so for self-serving reasons.

If a candidate cannot think of a single issue in which he would say, “Government has no business interfering in that matter,” then he does not understand the proper limits of government.

Power seekers are masters of telling people what they want to hear.

That means we must be willing to get beyond simplistic campaign slogans and determine whether a candidate’s words and actions are in alignment with sound principles.

The only way to reliably sift the power-seeking opportunists from the more selfless leaders is to have an electorate that understands the principles and practices of freedom.

There may some other avenues worth exploring as well.

Perhaps we’d be better served if a committee of neighbors were to come together — independent of party — and deliberate as to who would best represent them in public office.

That committee could then approach the man or woman in whom they have confidence and ask that person to represent them for one term. They might say, “You didn’t ask for this position, but we feel that you are a person of integrity and we will do your campaigning for you.”

To the candidate, it might feel more like they were being drafted rather than simply trying to convince voters to let them rule over them. Such an approach could certainly be less self-serving than most political campaigns today.

Can you see the difference between exercising our voices in this manner versus being cajoled into throwing our support behind a power seeker?

Public service should be just that: service, not entitlement.

This is essentially what happened to George Washington following the ratification of the Constitution and the founding of our federal system of government.

Washington had already given many years of service to his country and would have preferred to stay home, read his books and tend to his gardens. His countrymen knew that his leadership could be trusted, and they begged him to work on their behalf.

What this type of leadership denotes is a nearly forgotten concept known as public virtue, in which a person willingly sacrifices comfort, time and effort without thought of personal gain.

Political service should be a time of sacrifice that primarily benefits others.

It’s akin to the person who puts in the back-breaking work of planting trees with the understanding that they won’t be the one enjoying the shade or fruits 40 years down the road.

Power seekers won’t do that kind of work, and it’s in our best interest as voters to recognize them for what they are and refuse to reward them.

This can only happen when we understand that each of us has a personal moral responsibility for what government does in our names and that the same moral laws apply to individual action as to when men act in concert.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator, radio host and opinion columnist in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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8 Comments

  • Allie May 30, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    When was the last time a person asking for your vote asked you what you felt should be the priorities of the government? They tell you what is important in their eyes, not yours. The other day former Sen. Bob Dole said, “I have been a Republican all my life,” said Dole. “The party has done a lot for me. I hope I’ve done a lot for the party along the way. But when Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, it was an easy call for me. ” Regardless of what party a political leader belongs to, his primary focus should be the people he/she represents. The party should be at the lowest end of priorities. The people who are currently in Congress for 10, 20 and 30 years or more should be booted out. They are wolves in sheeps clothing, doing the bidding of people who did not elect them. We need to force Congress to pass a term limit bill. If it is good enough for the president, it’s good enough for them. The president AND congress should be limited to one term of six years. If they can’t get done what needs to be done in that period of time, they’re gone. It would eliminate the need to raise money or focus attention on getting re-elected. We could also eliminate elections by having a “Selective Service” congress. Every 6 years a person is selected to fill a seat in Congress. It would allow for people who are not politically connected and don’t have the money to run for office. Chances are, these people will be more in touch with what is needed. Your vote is important. Please weigh issues that are important to you and give serious consideration of the future of our country when you cast your vote.

  • Jeannette May 30, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    We need one term candidates in every office, local, county, state, and federal. This includes the Presidency. Also, no retirement benifits for any and NO campaign contributions other than individual and unconnected donations. There are many oportunists who love power, this may irradicate some. I like the idea of bringing down to grassroots’ level of representation as this article describes.

  • Billy Madison May 30, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I can’t think about the election right now, I’m too worried about the Frito Lay warehouse fire and if the Frito’s got burned.

    • ladybugavenger May 30, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      They did not survive 🙁 let’s have a moment of silence

  • Brian May 30, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    Vote the bums out. Every. Single. Time. You want term limits? NEVER vote for an incumbent, regardless of party. Leave both of the two parties (two sides of the same coin), and support the best 3rd party or independent candidate. It’s the only way real change will happen. But before all that, live the traditional principles that made America what it is (or was). Until American’s ~act~ like American’s (honest, hard working, self-reliant, moral, etc, etc) it doesn’t matter who the politicians are.

    • .... May 31, 2016 at 9:36 am

      If you vote the bums out of office then there will be no one to run for office. .anybody that runs for political office is a bum

  • Curtis May 31, 2016 at 7:49 am

    One of the problems in differentiating between those who are power seekers and those who would instead serve the people is that people change. Someone may go into office with the sincere desire to serve but can then be seduced by the trappings of elected office and elected office. The longer they serve the worse it becomes. It more likely to happen at state and federal levels than at city and county, and more likely in senates than houses of representatives. A solution would be term limits although I would be reluctant to tell voters they can’t vote for someone.

  • Common Sense May 31, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Its too late. We have no power or voice anymore. Our children are all brainwashed by govt regulated “sage testing” schools. Furthermore our youth is to focused on the perfect selfie or violent/gory video games and movies to even care about the future of America. At this point all we can do is cower in a corner and try to live out the rest of our lives as comfortably as possible while the rest of the world devolves around us. America used to be a great county.

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