April 19th, 2010

The Desperate Struggle for Political Power

photo credit: cool_colonia4711

Abraham Lincoln once wisely said that if you want to test a man’s character, you give him power. To that I would add that the pursuit of said power can be equally enlightening. Virtues we praise on Sunday and to which we might in certain company claim to adhere are quickly cast aside to out-maneuver one’s political opponent and influence the minds of the uninformed, malleable citizenry.

So few people (with good intentions) willingly participate in the political process for these reasons: power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the pursuit of power can corrupt just the same. Having spent several years interested, invested, and involved in politics at all levels of government, I have little reason to blame the many who are apathetic and indifferent to the ruling class of society. For all my thick skin, principled passion and stubborn resistance, I, too, have on occasion considered abandoning the cause of liberty to spare myself the stress, the disappointment, and the absolute disgust with those who claim to be something they clearly are not.

In 1839, Joseph Smith made the following assessment of the condition of men which has remained the same up to our own day:

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

Two years ago, President Thomas S. Monson said the following:

We live in a complex world with currents of conflict everywhere to be found. Political machinations ruin the stability of nations, despots grasp for power, and segments of society seem forever downtrodden, deprived of opportunity, and left with a feeling of failure.

Unrighteous dominion may be exercised once power is obtained, but the quest to acquire that power can be equally offensive and destructive. Ironically, though many people are driven away from politics due to this revolting display of arrogance and deceit, its pervasive existence at all levels of politics means that good, honest and wise people are needed that much more. It is their abandonment and absence that further enables the opposition and cedes power to those who so viciously chase it. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” said Edmund Burke.

President Gordon B. Hinckley commented likewise:

We are involved in an intense battle. It is a battle between right and wrong, between truth and error, between the design of the Almighty on the one hand and that of Lucifer on the other. For that reason, we desperately need moral men and women who stand on principle, to be involved in the political process. Otherwise, we abdicate power to those whose designs are almost entirely selfish.

The lust for this political power can be quite enlightening to those who pay close attention and can sift through the several superficial layers of allegations, promises, and rhetoric. But this requires time, energy, interest, and the ability to discern what is being said and done behind the press releases, the polished platforms, the excused votes, and the attacks. This is no easy task in the refined world of public relations, a world in which uninformed individuals are easily captivated and convinced by deceptive persuasion.

The solution is not to jump ship, but to fight our way to the control room and commandeer the vessel. Where corruption is discovered, we must root it out. Unjustly and ironically incarcerated in a jail titled “Liberty”, Joseph Smith wrote that “we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness.” Our duty is to not acquiesce to power-lusting politicians, but to counter their lies and take part in the desperate struggle for political power that, if left unchecked through our unwillingness to promote truth and liberty, will only entrench the oppression which perpetually seems to hang over our heads.

12 Responses to “The Desperate Struggle for Political Power”

  1. Charles
    April 20, 2010 at 10:51 am #

    Although I would describe it differently, Hinckley is right that we have abdicated power to “those whose designs are almost entirely selfish”. In fact we have created legal entities that are mandated by law to be almost entirely selfish, endowed them with the same rights as moral citizens and given them free rein to exercise their power over our government. Until we regain dominion over those powerful forces and rid our nation’s political sphere of their influence, we cannot restore morality to our political process.

  2. Jim Davis
    April 20, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    Ezra Taft Benson:

    To all who have discerning eyes, it is apparent that the republican form of government established by our noble forefathers can not long endure once fundamental principles are abandoned. Momentum is gathering for another conflict–a repetition of the crisis of two hundred years ago. This collision of ideas is worldwide. Another monumental moment is soon to be born. This issue is the same that precipitate the great pre-mortal conflict–will men be free to determine their own course of action or must they be coerced? (The Constitution A Heavenly Banner p. 27)

  3. Dave P.
    April 25, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    Too bad Lincoln failed his own test. Big time.

  4. jeffersonian liberal
    April 29, 2010 at 10:10 pm #

    I heard it said once that commandeering the ship does little good, since all the ports are run by the pirates.

    It breaks my heart to see what is happening to this country and the world. But we were meant to be alive in these last days, hopefully making a difference in the outcome, if only for our own souls.

    We cannot live in Zion and Babylon at the same time. We cannot belong to the Church of Christ and keep a foot in the door of the Church of the Devil. And so I guess we are all members of the Church of the Devil, since we seem unable to leave his employ. We are held fast in Pharaoh’s court.

  5. oldmama
    May 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    good essay, but then I usually say that–

    ditto, Dave P. and Jeffersonian liberal–

  6. Ed Roberts
    May 13, 2010 at 10:04 am #

    Dave P. is right. Lincoln’s presidency was proof of what he is purported to have said.

    Jeffersonian Liberal raises a good point. Put another way, you can’t kill a snake by living in its belly. Christ told us to come out and be separate. Wallowing in the political hogpen can only coat a good man in filth. It has little effect on the hogs.

  7. John C.
    May 13, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    You see, it is stuff like the comments on this thread that lead me to believe that the mainstreaming of libertarianism will lead to the dissolution of the union.

  8. Ed Roberts
    May 13, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    Yes, I see what you mean, Johnny. Toddle back to FR or DU or wherever you usually post. Your TV addict mindset shows clearly in everything you post.

  9. John C.
    May 13, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    Ignoring Ed, starting in 3…..2…..1…..go!

  10. Mike
    May 14, 2010 at 9:27 pm #


    The “union” has been dead since the civil war. The union, (small u) as the founders organized it, was a “voluntary” union of 13 Individual Sovereign States. For better or worse, we now have The United States (Capital U). Dissolution/secession will not be tolerated as Lincoln so aptly demonstrated. If we are to have a constructive discussion, we must first establish a foundation based on truth by which to begin the debate.

  11. John C.
    May 14, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

    I’m not sure what point you are getting at. I hadn’t realized that I was lying (which I think is your implication). Are you arguing that the difference between union and united states was that the union understood itself as a voluntary one and the united states didn’t, because I’m not sure I buy that. Certainly, many Southern states felt they had the right to secede (and had long felt that way), but I’m not certain that should be understood as a commonly held belief or even a normative belief. Else, why fight the Civil war at all?


  1. The Cavalier » A Thought on Overcoming Political Corruption - April 27, 2010

    […] On a blog I really like (most of the time) I recently read an interesting post about the corrupting influence of power.  I’ll let you read the post here. […]

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