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Would a 'virtuous'--or free--people re-elect this ticket?
Linda White's op-ed column on failed president Barack Obama.

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Date published: 10/7/2012

BARACK OBAMA is a failed president. Joe Biden is a puff piece. So why are they leading in the polls?

In less than a month, Americans will vote for their next president. It's an enormous privilege, one we tend to take for granted. Who among us would like to live in a country where the leadership was decided by raw power or inheritance? We get to choose our leaders ourselves. The downside is, we get what we deserve.

Our Founders knew this well. They saw virtue as a requirement for a free republic. Benjamin Franklin wrote that "only a virtuous people are capable of freedom." The 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights says that it is impossible to secure a "free government or the blessings of liberty to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue."

How are we doing on that score? Not very well, by my count. We are a hedonistic culture, choosing what feels good over what's authentically good, who's cool over who has character. I can only imagine what Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert would do with George Washington's powdered wig and false teeth. How silly were those tight pants; how ridiculous his devotion to his mother. Yet it was Washington's depth of character--his refusal, for example, to take power as king--that set the course for this nation. Goofballs like Stewart and Colbert would chortle at him, and many of us would laugh along with them.

As a culture, we are unserious. Seduced by entertainment, anesthetized by busy-ness, we race through life grabbing pleasure where we can get it: in the latest tech toys, the latest entertainment news, the latest video games and movies. Disturbingly, we seem to have lost the ability to discern truth from lies, objectivity from bias, and transcendent realities from temporal trends.

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