Levi is studying American Documents this year through the Classical Conversations Challenge program. This essay, The Man with the Muck Rake, written in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt was assigned for this week. I ditched the school schedule and the teen and I had a deep and invigorating 2.5 hour discussion on politics, social media, and virtue. Today I dropped off our ballots with a sense of peace.
Just a few quotes, though much more of the essay is quote-worthy:
"At the risk of repetition let me say again that my plea is not for immunity to, but for the most unsparing exposure of, the politician who betrays his trust, of the big business man who makes or spends his fortune in illegitimate or corrupt ways. There should be a resolute effort to hunt every such man out of the position he has disgraced. Expose the crime, and hunt down the criminal; but remember that even in the case of crime, if it is attacked in sensational, lurid, and untruthful fashion, the attack may do more damage to the public mind than the crime itself."
"It is a prime necessity that if the present unrest is to result in permanent good the emotion shall be translated into action, and that the action shall be marked by honesty, sanity, and self-restraint."
"The first requisite in the public servants who are to deal in this shape with corporations, whether as legislators or as executives, is honesty. This honesty can be no respecter of persons. There can be no such thing as unilateral honesty."
"But in addition to honesty, we need sanity. No honesty will make a public man useful if that man is timid or foolish, if he is a hot-headed zealot or an impracticable visionary."
"More important than aught else is the development of the broadest sympathy of man for man."
"The foundation stone of national life is, and ever must be, the high individual character of the average citizen."
Honesty, sanity, self-restraint. High individual character.
I could vote for that.