John Dickerson is a correspondent for 60 Minutes. He is also a Contributing Editor to The Atlantic and the host of the Whistlestop podcast and co-host of the Slate Political Gabfest.

Jefferson on a person who assumes the public trust

“When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property, and justly liable to the inspection and vigilance of public opinion; and the more sensibly he is made to feel his dependence, the less danger will there be of his abuse of power — The abuse of power, that rock on which good governments, and the people’s rights, have been so often wrecked.” — Thomas Jefferson

[Jefferson, and the others, often wrote sentences that backwards ran until arriving at the point]

1 thought on “Jefferson on a person who assumes the public trust”

  1. Charles R. Mynard

    Saw today (6/17) your comments on CBS “Face the Nation” about the president. Though this is “preaching to the choir” I offer my thoughts below. Bless you, sir, for your honest, impassioned views that linger and compel me to arise at midnight to agree. The problem isn’t so much our leaders; they are a symptom of societal dysfunction and unbonding that truly scares me. The global coronavirus pandemic makes it even worse.

    6/6/2020 Letter to the Editor, Payson Roundup – LOSING OUR FREEDOMS FAST

    “Fifty years ago, as a young Navy ensign, I swore to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic. That oath still stands, though I retired as a senior officer years ago. I cannot remain silent as your, and my, cherished freedoms are quickly eroding under a president that does not adhere to the same oath. His personal desires, aided by inaction and even collusion by some of our political leaders, has brought chaos, fear, and retribution for citizens’ expressing their rightful freedoms as given by the Bill of Rights.

    Think not? Can you be assured that attempts to suppress your vote, and that of minority citizens, does not occur in parts of the nation? You know it does. Can you peacefully protest against violation of your rights without forceful police and military intervention? Watch the news. Are your concerns written to those in authority answered specifically, rather than by a generic statement of how well they have done? Mine have not. Do your fellow citizens support their rights by voting in leaders who support the public’s needs and ideals rather than those of a political party? Why, you know the answer; just look at who we put in our state legislature.

    Does the ongoing removal of government oversight officials and “unloyal” administrators, packing of high-level positions with partisan leaders (many of whom have been accused of crimes or unauthorized activities), failure by the current administration to abide by lawful congressional queries, and diversion for political aims of approved funding give you concern? No? It’s obvious that we, you, America, has a huge, growing and immediate problem.

    If you TRULY desire to maintain and foster your freedom rather than merely sticking on a bumper sticker or wearing a political hat, you must take some action. Or, as evident by nationwide and local events, sit quietly and watch it erode as politicians and partisans take it away. My oath was for all Americans, not just those of a certain party. I put my life on the line for our freedoms, for yours. Don’t just give them away and thereby let our democracy fade into a collection of “red” and “blue” states that gain or lose by whoever is in power. The actual power is (so far) yours. Speak out, fund, participate, vote. Democracy is ours to keep or to lose.”

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