View Full Version : A pertinent letter from my father in 1975.

09-25-2018, 02:10 PM
My father wrote this to me after a visit to him and my mother in 1975, he was 60 and I was 24.
He was a WWII veteran, small business owner and always involved in the community. A conservative but had been known to cross party lines.

Dear *****,
I am glad that you take an interest in events, politics, and affairs as that will lead to involvement in what this country needs to survive.
The tendency is to elect representatives and forget them after the election. Nothing could be more wrong. Even good men need guidance from the people and we don’t always elect good men. Whoever is elected, he is only one of us with no greater insight as to what is best for us all. The people are supposed to make these decisions and if you find yourself in disagreement ask yourself, what did you do to influence happenings other than take 10 minutes to cast your vote at the polls?

That’s not enough. Your right to criticize is shaky if you expect the other fellow to do all the work. What you have said to him is “Make me happy”, and if he fails, which is likely, you are offended. In a democracy, all of the responsibility lies with the people. In a totalitarian government it all lies with the leader. To make a democracy work the people must assume their share of the work, and if they fail, so does the democracy.
Good government begins right in your own neighborhood. Start there. Take the trouble to find out who are the precinct committeemen, both parties, and then go talk to them. You’ll be surprised. Whether they’re cheap ward heelers or conscientious citizens they’ll probably appreciate your visit. You’ll find the young are very welcoming providing they show a decent regard for those who have been active.

Don’t expect too much. Complete agreement is impossible. Each person has his own ideas and has a right to them. Agreement is a matter of compromise, a slow process. But if you can find one thing that you can work together on even with your opponent, that is progress.

To really understand your country, go to the library and pick out the books dealing with Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, Franklin, Samuel Adams. These will lead you to others and you’ll will be surprised how brilliant the men of 200 years ago were in developing a government so workable and lasting so long. You will gain a respect for democracy and learn that you have a responsibility to make it function.

Good government is still a matter of development. What we have is obviously not perfect, nor will it ever be, but it can be better, and the young will also have to work to make it that way. Examine the problem with a question, “What is the alternative?” Could you accept a dictatorship for instance? In that light many things look better.

I don’t approve of our trend towards “imperial” government. Richard Nixon is not God. Nor was Johnson, nor Kennedy. The fault lies not with Richard Nixon but with the people, and that’s the responsibility you’ll finally have to accept.


09-25-2018, 05:13 PM
Some very good advice. Especially now when local newspapers and broadcst media don’t have the funds to cover elected officials and bureaucracy as they once did.

Tom from Rubicon
09-25-2018, 05:28 PM
Thanks rimak,
I saved that to Word as my children and grandchildren need the sage advise from your father about citizenship.
Your Dad is / was a heck of a wise person.
Tom from Rubicon,WI

09-25-2018, 06:34 PM
thx rimak.

09-25-2018, 10:21 PM
To make a democracy work the people must assume their share of the work, and if they fail, so does the democracy.

Great letter, I'm glad of the prompt to share this passage, which i think supports your fathers sentiment, and gives insight into how bad leaders come about.

From Behrouz Boochani's book, 'No Friend But The Mountains'
(A very powerful book written by text message from a prison camp for asylum seekers created by the Australian government on Manus Island)

Taking on the role of a true leader takes courage. Real leadership involves guiding people with fortitude. But consider this: the people also follow and support a weak leader if it serves their purposes, especially in prison. Courageous leaders require courageous men and women in order to create change. In our prison the prisoners keep their distance from those who express some boldness and bravery because that will mean that they will not have to exert courage themselves.

I feel the 'prison' is a great metaphor for our time.

09-26-2018, 03:50 PM
Thank you for your comments. I hope that some reading his letter will be inspired to become involved in our democracy, write and start a dialog with your representatives if nothing else.