There is a message from a former U.S. president that elected officials in both political parties should observe. President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, said “A public office is a public trust.”
Too often today, our elected officials in both parties, especially at the highest levels, treat their public office as a public piggy bank…or a public power base…or a public forum for their private interests. And yet many of them wonder why Congress is held in such low regard by the people they are elected to represent.
Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, was elected president in1860. He took the Oath of Office on March 4, 1861, and a month later on April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumpter starting the Civil War. Later Lincoln spoke these words: “…thoughts were directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it – all sought to avert it…insurgent agents were in the city (Washington D.C.) seeking to destroy it without war – seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.”
On the occasion of his second inauguration, Lincoln uttered these words: “With malice towards none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God give us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace.”
For more than four years, the people of the United States have been subject to a War of Words with a duly-elected president being investigated and castigated even before he took office. This War of Words has divided the nation and divided families. There were bitter, hurtful words uttered by people on both sides of this verbal conflict. And those words have gotten more hurtful as time went on.
It’s time to call a truce. For people in leadership positions in both political parties, for writers and broadcasters on both sides and for ardent believers on both sides to pay heed to Abraham Lincoln’s words: “With malice towards none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God give us to see the right …to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
It’s time to stop the character assignation of those with whom we disagree and to take time to stop and listen and to look for solutions on which we can agree and to bring those solutions into being.
If Joe Biden, president-elect, is serious about unifying this country, he will call for a halt to the verbal assaults. If we as citizens are serious in wanting this nonsense to stop, we will encourage our elected officials to represent us and work for our interests and to treat their office as a public trust.
If you are a praying person, I encourage you to pray for our country, for our elected officials in both political parties and for God to again bless the United States.
JoAnn Van Tassel