If you are as surprised as I am at the depth of dishonesty and corruption that has been revealed in this campaign, then you will understand why I am writing this particular column the weekend before the election.
Americans are faced with a crisis of dishonesty and corruption vastly bigger and deeper than Secretary Hillary Clinton. Defeating her is necessary if we hope to clean up our dishonest and corrupt capitol city, but in many ways Hillary is merely the most prominent face in an entire network of dishonest people.
I have been actively involved in politics and government since August of 1958.
In all those years, nothing prepared me for the avalanche of blatant corruption and dishonesty that has been exposed and detailed during this campaign.
The dishonesty infects the news media, the Justice Department, the IRS, the Veterans Administration, the State Department, and the White House, among others.
From lying about Benghazi, to lying about the Affordable Care Act, lying about the payments to Iran, lying about corruption, incompetence, dishonesty and failure at the Veterans Administration–the pervasive willingness to lie infects our government.
Secretary Clinton’s dishonesty has been breathtaking in its brazen contempt for the American people. She has mastered the art of memorizing lies and then repeating them with such arrogance and assertiveness that she almost convinces you, even when you know everything she is saying is false.
Now with the various Wikileaks, court-ordered disclosures and hard work by a small number of reporters (especially at Fox News and the Wall Street Journal) we have learned that Hillary’s mendacity is merely the most public in a network of corruption and dishonesty so pervasive it can only be described as a cesspool that threatens the entire American system.
One of the greatest dangers to our entire system of self-government under the laws has been the growth in foreign influence seeking to buy control of American policies and actions.
Our Founding Fathers were vividly aware of the danger of foreign money and influence-seeking to control our politics and our government. In fact, they wrote a prohibition against foreign influence buying into the Constitution.
Article I, Section 9 says, “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
“Emolument” is a fancy word for payment.
Congress has implemented this ban through the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, which specifically prohibits spouses of public officials from receiving payments linked to foreign governments. Thus, during the eight years Hillary was in the Senate and the four years she was Secretary of State, every foreign government payment to President Bill Clinton or to the Clinton Foundation was expressly prohibited by the Constitution and by federal law.
Why were the Founding Fathers 229 years ago worried that people like the Clintons would introduce foreign corruption?
First, they had lived through the corruption of the British government, and rebelled against it. As Gordon Wood has described authoritatively, the Americans embraced the Whig critique of and hostility to corruption. Their passion for limited government was in part driven by the depth of their hostility toward government corruption.
Decades before Lord Acton warned that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” the Founding Fathers were designing a constitution to enforce the law and limit dishonesty and corruption.
Second, many of the Founding Fathers had read Roman and Greek history. They had a profound sense of the degree to which corruption destroyed liberty and the rule of law leading to dictatorship and tyranny.
If you read Colleen McCullough’s magnificent novels about the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of Caesar you will see sobering parallels.
Volume one is called The First Man in Rome. Already, in that first book (set around 100 B.C.), foreign rulers had learned that the Roman Senate had grown corrupt and could be bribed. The cancer of dishonesty was growing throughout the Roman power structure.
McCullough would have understood the Clintons and the cesspool of corruption they live in and preside over.
Donald Trump says he will drain the swamp.
We all need to understand how big a job and how great a struggle that will be.
President John Adams warned:
We are now testing the capacity of America to survive immoral, dishonest corrupt leaders and a network of corruption that is pervasive and frighteningly powerful.
If, in John Dean’s words, The Watergate cover-up was a “cancer on the Presidency,” then the scale and influence of today’s dishonesty and corruption is a cancer threatening the very survival of the rule of law and the American system of self government.
Lincoln, seeking to prevail in a crisis of the Republic, went to Gettysburg and rallied the American people with these words:
Now it is our turn to rededicate ourselves to the same cause–to reject the pervasive dishonesty and corruption that threatens our system and our institutions, and to return once again to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
That is how important next Tuesday is.