(Guest Commentary) Mike Farris – Citizens for Self-Governance – Senior Fellow for Constitutional Studies, co-founder of the Convention of States Project
One of the reasons we have accepted the premise of the “lesser of two evils” in our voting decisions, is that we don’t have clear ideas of what “good” looks like. This is the second in a series of ten short articles giving a coherent philosophy on what we should be looking for in a President.
There can be “the better of two goods” just as there are the “lesser of two evils.” But, I respectfully suggest that if we had a President who believed and practiced the ten views I will outline, most of us would say, “this is really pretty good.”
2. We need a president who understands the difference between a good political leader and the Messiah
The Declaration of Independence proclaims that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. The next sentence makes an equally important observation. “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.” The Founders, as phrased in the Bill of Rights, believed that the central purpose of government is to protect our God-given rights to life, liberty, and property.
Most candidates for President believe that the purpose of government is to provide for the needs of the people. Campaigns from such candidates largely center around the idea that “I can provide for the people’s needs better than my opponent.”
When candidates offer to be the “Provider in Chief” they clearly indicate that they are confused between the idea of being a political leader and being the Messiah.
“Are you better off than you were four years ago?” was a famous question from a presidential debate. This very question plays to the tendency among people to look to the government to provide for their needs.
Here’s the truth. The correct question voters should ask is: “Are you more free than you were four years ago?” We should assess the effectiveness of our government not by the measure of providing us with benefits but by its effectiveness in protecting our God-given liberties.
Here’s a second truth. If we are looking for economic success, we should know by now that centralized government and its morass of regulations and benefits can never compete with freedom. I visited the Soviet Union before the collapse of Communism. Centralized government was a god that failed to keep its promises to the people.
We have far too many American candidates who promise the light-beer version of the USSR–centralization and benefits just a little less onerous than full-blown communism.
If you want prosperity, you want freedom. If you want freedom and prosperity, don’t look for a Messiah on the ballot. Look for a leader.
There is only one true Messiah. His name is Jesus.
Michael Farris is the Chancellor of Patrick Henry College and Chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association. During his career as a constitutional appellate litigator, he has served as lead counsel in the United States Supreme Court, eight federal circuit courts, and the appellate courts of thirteen states.
Farris has been a leader on Capitol Hill for over thirty years and is widely respected for his leadership in the defense of homeschooling, religious freedom, and the preservation of American sovereignty. A prolific author, Farris has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship by the Heritage Foundation and as one of the “Top 100 Faces in Education for the 20th Century” by Education Week magazine.
Farris received his B.A. in Political Science from Western Washington University. He later went on to earn his J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law, and his LL.M. in Public International Law, from the University of London.
Mike and his wife Vickie have ten children and 19 grandchildren.