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Calvin Coolidge’s Lesson on Civic Responsibility

By John Hendrickson

Many who follow politics have heard the slogan that both ideas and elections have consequences. The Founding Fathers stated in the Constitution that sovereignty is left with the people, and one of the most important rights and responsibilities that we can exercise is the right to vote. Elections, regardless if they are local, state, or federal, are important and voters must be informed when they cast their ballot….Unfortunately, our nation suffers from a crisis in civic education, as many Americans are ignorant of our history and the principles which our nation is based upon. This crisis in civic education also impacts people who cast ballots out of ignorance or who do not vote for whatever reason justifies their civic laziness.
The Founding Fathers understood quite well that human nature was flawed and that a virtuous and informed citizenry was required in order for the republic to survive….Calvin Coolidge also understood that human nature was flawed and that people must be especially vigilant when it comes to politics. As a young and emerging politician, Coolidge remarked that politics “like other values it has its counterfeits.”4  “So much emphasis has been put upon the false that the significance of the true has been obscured and politics has come to convey the meaning of crafty and cunning selfishness, instead of candid and sincere service,” stated Coolidge.5  Because politics can become corrupt, Coolidge argued that “the power to think is the most practical thing in the world” when it comes to politics and making political decisions.6

To read Public Interest Institute’s INSTITUTE BRIEF, Calvin Coolidge’s Lesson on Civic Responsibility, please click HERE.


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