I’ve posted a speech by Rush Limbaugh’s father on the fate of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. Contrast the character, courage, and wisdom of the men of that Continental Congress who “pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” to many of today’s leaders. While most of the 56 signers lost family members, their health, and wealth, our congress today continually vote themselves healthy pay raises and increased benefits year after year while the majority of Americans suffer in a stagnant economy. Many enter politics in the middle class and leave as multi-millionaires—on the public dime no less.
The 56 simply wanted parity, fair treatment, and recognition of their basic human rights; our congress has been busy establishing an elite privileged class by exempting itself and favored friends from the very laws they force on the rest of us—e.g., gun control, the health care law, social security, investments, etc. The Founders threw off the institutionally abusive and archaic privilege of royalty. Except for the crowns and flowing robes, our congress acts like ancient princes who believe the rule of law is only for the peasants.
The 56 demonstrated remarkable honor, integrity, and morality. Not that they were perfect men by any stretch, but they gave their word and stuck to it. That’s so rare today that the modern American can scarcely comprehend that concept. The adage rings very true: “How do you know a politician is lying? His lips are moving.” Ah, but if lying were the only problem. Congressional behavior seems more akin to representatives of Gomorra than the United States. The constant bombardment of sexual scandals and the euphoric celebration of every deviant act or conduct has so sullied the legislative body that the only sin left is the sin of believing in sin.
The Founders debated and discussed real ideas. Years of debate and intensive study of multiple forms of government and human nature characterized the meetings of the Continental Congress. The signers plumbed the depths of great thinkers like Plato, Socrates, John Locke, and Baron de Montesquieu. They discussed Natural Law, human nature, and divine providence. They distilled the monumental concepts of freedom, liberty, and self government into 1,337 words of the most powerful document ever drafted. Now, barely a bill goes by that’s not over a thousand pages of convoluted and contradictory blather. We’re told we have to pass bills before we can find out what’s in them, and they push the bills through in the middle of the night to ensure no one can know what’s in them. Deep political thought is now defined as the good timing of a sound bite that can be distilled into a bumper sticker or Twitter tweet.
Courage, if nothing else, defined the character of the 56. Several signers’ family members were taken hostage and brutalized. All that was necessary to secure their release was for the signer to recant and come out in support of the King. Not one of them recanted. Our politicians today have to take a poll and focus group before they’ll even speak about a position or declare what they believe (or what the focus group says will keep them in power if they say they believe it). Courage is speaking without a teleprompter.
It’s easy to pile on our leaders, especially when we compare them with the remarkable men who signed the Declaration. A few leaders do demonstrate at least some of the qualities of the Founders, but it’s way too few. And if the problems of our country were so easily solved by simply flushing the toilet of Congress and starting over with new, fresh, and unsoiled representatives, I’d be all for it. But I fear that our representatives are truly OUR representatives. The problem isn’t with government and those in power. The character of our leaders is a mirror reflection of our national character. To quote Pogo, a cartoon from the WWII era, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”