The most important things are often the most obvious. Wouldn’t you think it appropriate if someone set up a conversation site called “mattersofprinciple” that this individual should state his or her own principles? Joel has just asked whether the host was inclined to do that. So, with several caveats, an attempt will be made. Caveats: the following list is not exhaustive. So, in response, please do not adopt the “I notice you didn’t mention…” fallacy. The parameters of this site are not boundless. Also, one man’s principles that follow are focused on government, ethics, and public policy, not spiritual, religious, or moral matters directly.
Matters of principle:
One: All men, that is to say all humans, are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights;
Two: The United States Constitution remains our best blueprint for governing in days to come;
Three: The First Amendment to the Constitution requires special attention and protection;
Four: Laws and policies should be based on the national interest, not one or more special interests;
Five: Likewise, the interests of the nation supersede the interests of parties and ideologies;
Six: We the citizens of a Republic must protect our rights by performance of our duties;
Seven: The commonwealth, all those things we hold together for ourselves and future generations, must be protected and preserved, and corruption of those interests must be steadfastly resisted;
Eight: The size of our government should be determined by the kind of society we want, not the reverse;
Nine: Citizenship in a republic requires that attention be paid to realities, and individuals have a duty to determine facts underlying all public matters under consideration:
Ten: America’s role in the world should be based on friendly relations with all nations of good will;
Eleven: Diplomacy is paramount in political and economic matters, and force is employed only when our safety is demonstrably in danger;
Twelve: In our dealings with others, we must focus on our common interests and not our differences.
These principles are illustrative and not exhaustive. But they do represent an important exercise that thoughtful citizens should make. Each of our loyal band of correspondents might try it for themselves. What is the rock-solid foundation upon which you base your public life? What is elemental, abiding, and enduring in your system of beliefs?
In a better world, candidates for public office, and especially those seeking national leadership, should be required to state the personal principles upon which they rely in their public lives.
Imagine replacing a candidate debate with bluebooks distributed and a half hour given to writing a statement of principles to be made available to and discussed with the public. The field of candidates would narrow dramatically overnight.
Credit card companies may ask, “what is in your wallet?” Citizen voters should ask, “what is in your mind and your heart? What are your fundamental beliefs?”
These and other personal principles are derived from the writings of those who created this nation’s founding era, a lifelong study of political ideas and ideals, observation of the lives of those who have earned respect, and a lifetime of public service.