Matters of Principle

Author: Gary Hart

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.




5 Responses to “Matters of Principle”

  1. Brian C McCarthy Says:


    Those of us who have followed your career already know your principles; they are clear as day if you read this blog regularly. Yet, it is still refreshing to hear you put them in your own words. I sadly doubt that the debate format will soon be replaced by the much more substantive format you suggest but it would be a worthwhile experiment. Few would pass that test. Sadly, too many people want quick and easy answers. Sound bytes that one can listen to in 10 seconds on YouTube will reach far more people than an actual, thoughtful answer to a policy question. The widespread reaction to the immigration ban gives me some hope but now Trump has just fired the acting Attorney General who decided the Justice Dept could not and should not defend the Administration’s position. No surprise. We’re in for a long fight against a president who recognizes no boundaries or rules of fair play. You defined corruption as “actions and decisions that put a narrow, special, or personal interest ahead of the interest of the public or commonwealth”. I’m afraid we’re to see a lot of that in the next four years.



    Dear Senator Hart,

    You, your work, inspire . I am developing a musical for the theatre I have written, and am working on a film. Both contain , in the one lyrics, the other dialogue, that reflect my principles, and I would like to share eventually.And then there are all the great quotes that one could think of !

    But, the delight , here, in this site, and ah, there’s a rhyme in itself ,make me , as a result of this terrific article and invitation to us, want to write a little something cheery, optimistic, fun , appropriate, for this , and these times !

    A Dedication:

    To Senator Gary Hart

    And all the contributors to Matters of Principle

    This Principle

    ” Good Prince Simple

    You know it all

    This principle :

    Don’t build a wall !”

    ” Good citizen

    Oh, that is true

    Yes, it is an

    Odd thing to do !”

    ” So each of us

    We can agree

    Won’t make a fuss

    We’ll plant a tree !”



    Lorenzo Cherin


    This Principle – Part Two

    This principle

    Write, though in chalk

    A Principal

    The playgrounds walk

    As citizen

    And leader, both

    The fit, is an

    Act, like an oath

    Hop, skip and jump

    But be relieved

    Nothing can trump,

    Beat , that’s believed!


    And so we live happily ever after…

    This Principle – The Concluding Part!

    Thus Prince Simple

    Throughout the land

    This principle

    Your merry band

    Each citizen

    Knows very well

    That wit is an

    Art, time will tell

    To make us smile

    This above all

    Once in a while

    Beyond a wall…

  5. Tim Conner Says:

    Thank you, Senator Hart for a stimulating and thoughtful list of principles.
    I will be thinking about these things to counter the dark cloud that is blowing in from the east.

    Tim Conner

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