Elected Officials Serve the Public Trust
June 29, 2009
“Public office is a public trust!” Grover Cleveland, our 22nd and 24th president said those words over 100 years ago.
Think about it. Public office means just that; the public is supposed to be served! How many times have you heard sanctimonious, self-serving frauds say they are “public servants?”
The original intent of the creators of the United States Constitution was that Americans would “serve as citizens serving the interests of their fellow citizens.” All of those great, inspired republicans devoted their entire lives to the cause of the government to be the servant of the people.
As a boy and even into early manhood, I did believe what I had read in my history books. I did believe that our senators and representatives went to Washington, D.C. to serve our interests. Our first president, the father of our country, George Washington, was asked to be president for as long as he wished. He was literally invited to be a virtual king!
But, after two terms as president, he wanted to return to his home at Mt. Vernon. He said the office he occupied as our first president did not belong to him or to any man. He said it was the people’s office.
Washington also reminded his countrymen that they were citizens who were also farmers, artisans, blacksmiths; people ENTRUSTED by their countrymen to serve the public good.
And, of course, Washington was but the first of many. Along came John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams . . . these men followed in the tradition of George Washington.
The self-imposed two-term limit prevailed until 1940 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran for a third term and, unfortunately, he ran for a fourth term and won the election, even though he was dying. The White House would permit no pictures of FDR.
The Chicago Tribune was the only newspaper in the country which printed a picture of the ailing president. However, the rest of the media went along with the ruse and as a result, Roosevelt went to the Yalta meeting with Joe Stalin and Winston Churchill.
At the Yalta conference, Roosevelt set the stage for the Cold War which lasted from l946 until 1991. In my opinion, the Cold War is in the first round of Cold War II. But, I will save that discussion for further columns.
In getting back to the subject of today’s column, a “public office is a public trust,” in addition to the likes of Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, I want to point out that in the past year alone there have been almost 600 elected officials in various layers of government who have been charged with a multitude of transgressions.
At the present writing, I am most disturbed by the bizarre conduct of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. Cheating on a wife seems to go with the territory of being a politician. I am not going to sermonize about that.
What is disturbing is his dereliction of duty as governor. He left the state and indeed the country to have his tryst in Argentina. He may have spent public money to do that, but most of all he did not remember that a public office is a public TRUST!
Therefore, if Gov. Sanford does not have the decency to resign, the legislature should impeach him. I find no joy in saying this. I have been a supporter of Mark Sanford since he was a congressman. I have correspondence in my files from him.
But I would beg him to stop hurting the people who have trusted him in the past, but can never trust him again!