Voters would be wise to heed Jethro?s advice
By SETH GROSSMAN, Political Columnist
(Reprinted from October 27, 2010, Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/index….os-advice.html)
?Choose from among all the people those who are capable, those who fear God, those who speak the truth, and those who hate dishonest gain.?
? Exodus 18:21
According to the Bible, Jethro gave this advice to his son-in-law Moses in the desert right after Moses led the people of Israel out of slavery.
As slaves, the people of Israel were always told what to do. So when they were free, they still asked their leader Moses to make every decision and settle every dispute for them.
When Jethro saw this, he told Moses ?What you are doing is not right.? Jethro advised Moses to only deal with big issues affecting the whole nation. He suggested that Moses appoint officials of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens to decide smaller, local matters ?but only if they had those four qualities.
Having government run by people who are capable, fear God, speak the truth and hate dishonest gain is as important to Americans today as it was to the Hebrews of 4,000 years ago.
But how can we learn which candidates have these qualities? They are rarely reported or discussed in the newspapers or on TV. They are rarely discussed by the candidates or in the expensive campaign ads.
Even worse, many intelligent and well-informed voters who influence others deliberately support politicians they know are incompetent, greedy, liars with no sense of right and wrong. They do it when they think this will get them a bigger slice of the government pie. This is why our country is in such sorry shape today.
It wasn?t always this way. In the days of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, most Americans knew as much about the Bible ? and Jethro?s advice ? as most of today?s Americans know about the Kardashians and ?Jersey Shore.?
Every October, state Sen. Jeff Van Drew hosts a ?family barbecue? at his house in Dennis Township in Cape May County. This American political tradition began in the days of Ben Franklin and George Washington when candidates for colonial assemblies wanted to prove they were ?capable.?
The free barbecues brought voters to their farms, homes or workshops. If the buildings and fences were in good repair, the horses and other animals well-fed and groomed, and if the workers were happy, voters figured the candidate who owned the place was capable and could be trusted to run the government.
Public officials should also ?fear God.? Jethro did not say officials should love God, be religious or go to church. Two of our greatest leaders, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, rarely went to church or claimed to be religious. Yet they both feared God in their day-to-day lives. They both recognized universal laws of right and wrong, and the consequences of ignoring them. A person who fears God does the right thing even when nobody is looking and there is no chance of getting caught.
Public officials should ?speak the truth.? This quality seems obvious, but it is missing from politics in America today. We destroy candidates when they tell the truth and support them when they lie. Every year, politicians promise to cut taxes while opposing any cuts to programs for public safety, education, seniors, recreation, green energy, etc. A candidate who speaks the truth by saying we can?t cut taxes until we cut spending in even one of those areas is denounced as ?divisive? or ?extreme.?
Politicians in America lie so much today that they invented a new word when we catch them in a blatant lie: They say they ?misspoke.?
We are supposed to elect candidates who ?hate dishonest gain.? But no candidate can win an election today without lots of campaign money. In the past, candidates could not get big campaign cash unless they used government to do big favors for big businesses, big unions, or big groups of government employees or others who felt ?entitled? to money taken by the government from someone else.
This year, the tea party movement created a few exceptions. But real change will not happen until thousands of ordinary citizens realize it is just as important to give $100 or $200 each year to the campaigns of candidates Jethro would support as it is to give to their church, synagogue or favorite charities.
Otherwise, a few candidates who ?hate dishonest gain? may get elected. But they will quickly change when they see pay-to-play politics making everyone around them rich.
Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears on 1400AM talk-radio Mondays and Tuesdays from 3 to 4 p.m. and on 92.1FM Saturdays from 9 to 10 a.m. For more information, see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held every Saturday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Shore Diner, Fire and Tilton roads, Egg Harbor Township.