THE FOUNDERS IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Patrick Henry Weighs In On Choosing Our Representatives

I have been attacked by supporters from both sides for stating my position on this election, which is: Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are of bad moral character, and neither should ever be considered for any public office.  I’ve tried to explain my reasons for this position, but no one seems to want to listen.  Maybe it’s time to let one of our most passionate and influential founding fathers offer up his advice on who to vote for this election?  If people refuse to listen to me, then maybe they will listen to Patrick Henry:

The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone that renders us invincible. These are the tactics we should study. If we lose these, we are conquered, fallen indeed…so long as our manners and principles remain sound, there is no danger.

Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is impossible that a nation of infidels or idolaters should be a nation of freemen. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

[NOTE: by ‘infidels,’ Henry means Atheists.  This is the term our founders used for anyone who did not believe in God.  And an ‘idolater’ is someone who believes in a god other than the God of the Bible.]

According to Henry, morality and religion are the foundation holding up both government and society.  This is plain language stated with great force.  What’s more, Henry was not alone in this belief.  The founders were quite clear on this point: there can be no morality without religion (with religion being understood as the belief in the Creator and adherence to His laws).  The point should be clear: no religion, no morality; no morality, bad character; bad character, bad citizen.  From this, it is a logical conclusion that it is impossible for a person of bad character to be a good representative of the people.  In fact, such a person of shouldn’t even be considered for public office.

So, how do we know good character from bad?   The following excerpts are from Patrick Henry’s most famous speech.  The principles he was asserting are eternal Truths.  They are as valid today as they were when he spoke these words.  If we would have liberty, we would be wise to heed Henry’s caution.  If we do not, then we will most certainly reap the ruin against which Henry was warning.

First principle: we have only past experience to advise us as to the likely outcome of future events:

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.

Now look at the fuller context of Henry’s warning:

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss.

[NOTE: to those who assert the founders were not Christian, please notice that Henry quotes the Bible in the last line of this passage.]

After advising that the past if our best guide to the future, Henry then draws attention to the way the British government had been treating the Colonists for the past several years.  The British government had been making promises to the Colonists which it never kept, nor intended to keep — just like our government today.  What’s more, today, this applies to both Parties as well as the government.  Whatever any of them tell us, Trust it not, sir!

Therefore, we should carefully consider everything about the past — both in regard to human history, as well as the history of individual humans.  In this regard, it is human nature to want to hope things will be different from the way they were in the past, but this leads us to becoming animals who abandon the pursuit and defense of liberty:

It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty?…

Thus we have a duty to accept reality, which means we must first find the courage to seek it, and to see it as it really is.  And, once we have found that Truth, our duty demands that we declare it.  We cannot remain silent, otherwise, we are traitor to our nation, to liberty and to the Truth:

It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings…. 

Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things, which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it. Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves.

[NOTE: Henry is quoting the Bible again.]

Therefore, in every election, look to the history of the candidates.  Have they shown themselves to be of good moral character?  Do they respect, honor and uphold the law equally, for every individual?  Are they frugal with the People’s money.  Are they even-tempered?  And do they adhere to the fundamental principles of God’s Laws?

No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

If the answer to these questions is no, then you must not vote for that person.  If this means you must vote for a candidate of another Party, or even write in a name, then that is your duty.  But you must never accept ‘the lesser of two evils” argument.  That is a lie.  Anyone accepting that lie is of bad character, and people of bad character cannot make good citizens (or be good representatives).   And when they tell you that not voting for the lesser evil will insure the greater evil, take heart.  If the people will just stay True to God and His laws, He will fight for us:

 Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.

And, if the forces of evil prevail, then why would you want to live in a nation governed by tyrants?  In fact, that was the very question Patrick Henry was asking when he spoke his immortal words:

… Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Now, take a good, hard, honest look at the candidates and ask yourself this question:

What would Patrick Henry think of that person?