Scott's Choice

Citizen Politicians

25 November 2014

Citizen Politicians

What makes the United States different from every other country in the world? What makes it so distinctive?

It is the fact that, contrary to what has occurred in every other country, the government of the U.S. is authorized, not imposed; that it is limited in what it may do to a specific set of actions. That authorization is the U.S. Constitution - a document that, unlike the connstitutions of any other country, the government itself cannot change. The Constitution is above the government, controlled by the people themselves, and despite any imperfections, mistakes, or deliberate attempts that might impair, disregard, or negate it, it remains the citizens' primary and most powerful tool for holding the government to its desired purpose, and for fending off the oppression which anyone acting under government auspices might attempt.

The Constitution was written by America's Founding Fathers, men joining together from every state. Certainly the strongest influence on their political thinking was the writings of John Locke, from the 1680s. When Thomas Jefferrson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he took many of its phrases from Locke's writings on political philosophy, paraphrased or lifted virtually verbatim.

What does John Locke have to do with South Carolina?

When the colony of Carolina was being founded, John Locke was asked to draw up its first Constitution. John Locke laid the groundwork not only for the U.S. itself through his impact on the thinking of the Founders, but he was also directly responsible for the politiical foundations for South Carolina itself. John Locke was South Carolina's political Founder.

South Carolina was founded on the precept that its citizens were responsible for their government, arguably more so than any other state. Indeed, before the American Revolution, all landowners held a seat in the General Assembly, and were legally required to attend when it was called into session. These were true "Citizen Politicians"!

The word "politician" tends to have negative connotations to many people today. And in any other government in the world, that reputation is deserved: they dictate what their subjects are permitted to do, what actions they may take, what they are allowed to read, and what they are allowed to say.

But in the United States we have no excuse for that kind of politician. The actions of the government are our responsibility. We wrote its rules of operation; we authorized it. If we do not step up to the job of being the ones elected to control its actions, who else can we expect to do it? How could we be surprised, if a lesser grade of men seized the chance and took advantage of a wide-open opportunity to be the ones holding the reins of power - and then chose to abuse that power at every turn?

I salute America's Citizen Politicians - the men and woment who are elected to Congress, to Governorships, to State Legislatures, to be Mayors, City Councilmen, and members of Boards and Commissions.

These are citizens who do not walk away from their government, leaving it to be defenseless and corrupted by those who should never be permitted anywhere near something that has so much power to affect all our lives.

These Citizen Politicians are the safeguard for America's future, acting on their own behalf, living by their Constitution, serving their constituents, and demonstrating to our children by their actions the rightness of their integrity and their greatness - the honor that it means to be a Citizen Politician.

-- Scott

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