"I would we were all of one mind, and one mind good." --Cymbeline, V.iv.209-210. An English teacher's log. Slow down: Check it once in a while.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

John Adams on Electioneering

Amidst preoccupation with visitors and final exams, here's a word from John Adams to help us keep some perspective on electioneering. It comes from a letter written late in his life, quoted in David McCullough's John Adams (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001), p. 591.

[Note: You must imagine the literal source of each metaphorical vehicle in the first paragraph, given the reality of horse travel in a fall season of the first decade of the 19th Century, when a journey between Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., could take weeks. The tenor of the metaphors, of course, still applies in the age of Beemer and chartered jet.]

"Our electioneering racers have started for the prize. Such a whipping and spurring and huzzaing! Oh what rare sport it will be! Through thick and thin, through mire and dirt, through bogs and fens and sloughs, dashing and splashing and crying out, the devil take the hindmost.

"How long will it be possible that honor, truth or virtue should be respected among a people who are engaged in such a quick and perpetual succession of such profligate collisions and conflicts?"

Monday, May 12, 2008

For Residents of San Diego

Topics on this weblog are not usually political. However, after years of frustration and occasionally disgust with San Diego City government, often shared with neighbors and friends on the local park benches, I am very happy to be able to support a candidate for the office of mayor who has integrity and good sense. That candidate is Steve Francis. And I have felt it my duty to the community, as citizen and as long-time fulminator against downtown graft, to be active in Steve’s campaign.

I came to know Steve and his wife as the parents of one of my students. At dinner at their home about a year ago I asked Steve whether he intended to run again for the office of mayor. He said he was considering doing so. My response was that if he intended to restore city government to its primary duty of serving the interests of all the citizens rather than serving up the goodness and treasure of the City to feed the greed of a few self-interested wealthy, I would support him wholeheartedly in whatever way I could. Steve has made integrity, fiscal responsibility, and transparency major goals of his campaign, and so I am delighted to be able to keep my promise and to support his candidacy.

Previous mayors of our city, as many disappointed citizens are aware, have for decades been abettors, if not merely tools, of so-called “special interest” powers—mainly property and hotel developers and unions, whose lawyers and consultants are paid fortunes to figure out how their bosses may most thoroughly use the City’s coffers for their own financial advancement. These mayors have not all been bad men and women, but they have all been dependent on such “interests” for campaign and sometimes personal financing, and have in turn found it hard to resist using city government and taxpayers’ money—sometimes subtly, sometimes brazenly—to repay their debts. In short, loyalty to benefactors has compromised, in some cases substituted for, loyalty to duty and to the City.

Steve Francis, I truly believe, will be a different sort of mayor. He has made his own money by running a successful business, much admired by its employees for its administrative fairness and decency. He is financing his own campaign, taking no money from any special interests, and therefore will be beholden to no one but those who actually elect him with their votes. He will take one dollar a year for salary from the City. Most important, he intents to administer the City as he has administered his own company and as he has striven to raise his family—on a foundation of honesty, integrity, decency, common sense, and devotion to the good of all.

Please see Steve’s website and study his plans for restoring the financial health and improving the physical well-being of San Diego. I hope his record and his plans will persuade you to vote for him on June 3.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Preservation of Liberty

"The preservation of liberty depends upon the intellectual and moral character of the people. As long as knowledge and virtue are diffused generally among the body of a nation, it is impossible they should be enslaved." --John Adams

Not just knowledge. Not just virtue. Both.