I have a problem. I don’t know whom to vote for this year.
In fact, it’s such a troubling problem that I ignored my own advice to be rational and gave way to an emotional display of tears over this fact the other day.
And then I found Noah Webster’s advice to a young man on how to vote.
Best known as the author of the American dictionary, Webster was a learned man educated at Yale. He was also a man who loved his country, a fact indicating he would not have taken his responsibility to cast a ballot lightly. Below are a few of his thoughts on this all-important issue:
1. Ignore Party Affiliation
“In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate – look to his character as a man of known principle, of tried integrity, and undoubted ability for the office.”
2. Observe Morality
“It is alleged by men of loose principles, or defective views of the subject, that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the Scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, able men such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness. But if we had no divine instruction on the subject, our own interest would demand of us a strict observance of the principle of these injunctions. And it is to the neglect of this rule of conduct in our citizens, that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breaches of trust, peculations and embezzlements of public property which astonish even ourselves; which tarnish the character of our county; which disgrace a republican government; and which will tend to reconcile men to monarchy in other countries and even in our own.
When a citizen gives his suffrage to a man of known immorality, he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.”
3. Avoid Those Who Seek Power at All Costs
“As a general rule, it may be affirmed, that the man who never intrigues for office, may be most safely entrusted with office; for the same noble qualities, his pride, or his integrity and sense of dignity, which make him disdain the mean arts of flattery and intrigue, will restrain him from debasing himself by betraying his trust.”
4. Listen to Those Who Know the Candidate
“One of the surest tests of a man’s real worth, is the esteem and confidence of those who have long known him, and his conduct in domestic and social life. It may be held as generally true, that respect spontaneously attaches itself to real worth; and the man of respectable virtues, never has occasion to run after respect.”
So if Noah Webster were alive today, which of the two main candidates would he choose?
As best as I can tell, he wouldn’t vote for either of them, particularly since both have major issues with integrity. In fact, one has to wonder if any candidate running for president – even those in third parties – would have passed the Webster eligibility test.
Which leaves me with the question: Is Webster’s voting advice still applicable for our nation today… or have the rules changed as we have strayed farther from the morality which our Founders said was essential to a free and prosperous nation?
Image Credit: ConnecticutHistory.org bit.ly/2902NGb
Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout.