GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL LIFE


Government is to subserve individuals,
The only government is that which makes minute of individuals.
The individual man or woman is the head and ideal, and the state, city, government, or what not, is a servant, subordinate—with nothing sacred about it—but all the sacredness is in the individual.
The citizen is always the head and ideal,
And president, mayor, governor and what not, are agents for pay,
Laws, courts, the forming of states, the charters of cities, are all for you,
The question that must premise all enactments: Will this apply to men and women universally?
If sentiments and opinions out of the great mass of the common people are of no use to the legislators, then our government is a sad blunder indeed.

Government is itself simply a compact with each individual inhabitant now, and prospectively with each individual of the millions that are in time to become inhabitants, to protect each one’s life, liberty, industry, acquisitions, without excepting one single individual out of the whole number, and without making ignominious distinctions. Thus is government sublime; thus is it equal; otherwise it is a government of castes.

Is it you that thought the president greater than you?
What would it bring you to be elected and take your place in the capitol?
I elect you to understand yourself—that is what all the offices in the republic could not do.
I say no body of men are fit to make presidents, judges, and generals, unless they themselves supply the best specimens of the same; and that supplying one or two such specimens illuminates the whole body for a thousand years.
Nothing less than the mightiest, original, non-subordinated soul has ever really, gloriously led, or ever can lead.

I will not be a leader of men,
I am too great to be a mere leader, a mere president.
I do not desire eminence, I desire equality,
I remain with the people on equal terms,
To obey as well as command, to follow more than to lead.

As I sit by the silent pond, how different from the excitement amid which millions of people are now waiting news of yesterday’s presidential election, or receiving and discussing the result—in this secluded place uncared-for, unknown.

NEXT: Political Corruption