Wednesday, June 29

A lifelong politician to consider

This man spent his life in politics and academics. He studied the ways of man and of science. He wrote. He served in political positions most of his life. He always studied science, making contributions that made real differences in the fields of electricity and meteorology. 
His personal life was colorful. He had a common law wife. He had a illegitimate son. He was known for sitting with the windows open in the nude to take an air bath. His religious views were never known, but he was known to ridicule those who were self righteous.

Was this some great liberal that today’s Tea Party folks would hang in effigy? Is it Al Gore or someone like that?

Nope. It is Ben Franklin, one the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was intelligent and irreverent. He spent his life in public service. He actually liked the idea of things like public schools. Indeed, he founded the first volunteer fire department in the United States. His estate actually left small sums of money in trust for the cities of Boston and Philidelphia.

Franklin, like other Founding Fathers, was a champion of freedom, but also a champion of people having good sense and studying and having knowledge when they spoke out. Franklin demanded people know what they were talking about. He loathed those who spoke out just to speak out of emotion.

Other Founding Fathers were like him. Franklin paid the price in his time. Sure, we honor him now in so many ways. But, during his life, especially his earlier life, he was viciously attacked by people who saw him as immoral or eccentric for telling the truth as he saw it.

It is little different today. Suppose a guy with some good ideas came along and presented himself to the current Tea Party or even the Republican Party. What would people say about him when they found out he loved scientific reasoning, was not really married to his wife, had an illegitimate child, and did not go to church on a regular basis?

The irony is those who cry out the most for the values of the Founding Fathers are the least like them. Founding Father John Adams once wrote that “Facts are stubborn things…and those who ignore them do so at their own peril.” That is true of the new GOP. They claim to embrace the Founding Fathers, but are ignorant of them and their histories. They want to lead, but only want leaders who pass litmus tests. Even Ronald Reagan would be a RINO now.

As we prepare to celebrate the Independence Day holiday, VUI will take a look at the Founding Fathers, that group of crazy men who actually gave up their fortunes and lives to create this nation. They did not have lobbyists to steer them to consulting fees like our Governor did in the State House and so many legislators do. They did not look for big pay checks after government service. They lost their homes, their fortunes and some their lives.   They did not have some billionaire giving millions of dollars to political groups and consultants.

Yet, we have these politicians who tell us public service is something bad. They run campaigns boasting about their lack of experience serving people. They ridicule folks who work for the government.    But, when they hold office, they feather their nests, just as Jefferson and Franklin warned us against. Something to ponder.
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