General George Washington: The model of the disinterested, reluctant leader. A man who turned down and walked away from power at least three times in his life: first, by refusing the offer of a military coup at the height of his power; second, by retiring from public life after the Revolutionary War when he likely could have become “King of America,” and third, by, to the astonishment of the world, term-limiting himself and walking away from what could have been presidency for life. How does your candidate compare?
When you are considering supporting any candidate for office, consider the following four criteria:
1. Do they know and understand the Constitution? If they don’t know and understand it, how can they possibly defend it? As a threshold matter, do they know the text? Have they even read it? If they don’t even know what it says, how can they follow it? If the can’t be bothered to read it, just how sincere a Constitutional defender are they? And do they understand it? Do they have a firm grasp of the basic principles and concepts of our Constitutional Republic? Attend a town hall meeting and ask them some pointed questions to test their knowledge. A good list of questions to ask can be found at the back of the excellent book, the Five Thousand Year Leap, by W. Cleon Skousen. If they don’t know the text or the answers to those questions, then you should be very hesitant to support them for office. Certainly you can have good, sincere people of demonstrated courage who have recently woken up and had not heretofore studied the Constitution. But courage without understanding will just not cut it. At the least they should correct their ignorance, and you can help them do so, such as by giving them a copy of Skousen’s book to go along with their reading of the text of the Constitution itself, but frankly I have to wonder why they are even running for office if they have not yet bothered to read and study the Constitution.
2. Even if they know what the Constitution says and understand it, do they have the integrity and courage to follow the Constitution, come what may? Knowledge without courage and integrity is even more useless than is courage without understanding. There’s a thundering herd of politicians, most of them lawyers, who do know what it says but simply don’t give a damn. When trying to figure out whether a candidate has the courage and integrity to actually be faithful to the Constitution, look not to what they say now, on the campaign trail, but to what they have done. If they have already served in office, what was their voting record? If they have already voted for unconstitutional bills, then they have shown you all you need to know. Such a person is a demonstrated oath breaker. If, to be fair to them, there is a valid question of whether one of their votes was a violation of their oath, ask them to explain why they voted the way they did. Unless they can articulate a credible rationale for why the bill was constitutional, you should pass. And have they spoken out against the violations of the Constitution by their own party, or do they only point out the violations by “the other team”? And even if they have no political voting record to look at, have they, in the past, ever stood tall in any situation, with the courage of their convictions, even at personal risk? In other words, what have they DONE? When have they taken a stand? If you can’t find any examples of them taking a stand, I would be very suspicious of believing the campaign promises.
3. Do they have the personal integrity to keep specific campaign promises, such as promises to term limit themselves or to vote for or against particular bills? What about them or their past behavior makes you confident they will keep their promises? When have they been true to their word even to their own harm?
4. What is their motivation for running? Do they look forward to public office? Are they excited about the prospect? If so, run! Frankly, the best candidate is the sincere constitutionalist who does not want to run for office, who loathes the thought of all the headaches that go with the job, that you have to convince to run against their better judgment (because serving in public office is a royal pain in the rear to normal people. Only psycho sociopaths enjoy it). You want someone who is not interested in power and perks. All too often I have seen people who were sincere constitutionalists but who also were very keen on public office sell their souls and compromise their principles because they were star-struck with the prospects of fame and fortune and liked the idea of being called “Senator” or “Representative” so-and-so just a bit too much. Seek out the person who doesn’t care a whit about all the perks and power, who detests the idea of running for office, and convince that one to run. You will more likely have someone who will stand tall no matter what.
A candidate for office must know the Constitution, must have the courage to follow it, must have the integrity to keep promises, and must be in it not for personal gain, but to serve, protect, and defend. Look past the campaign rhetoric and see if you can find a track record of knowledge, courage, and actual devotion to country. If you can’t find such a clear track record, look elsewhere.
Founder of Oath Keepers
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