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Abraham Lincoln once wisely said that if you want to test a man’s character, you give him power. To that I would add that the pursuit of said power can be equally enlightening. Virtues we praise on Sunday and to which we might in certain company claim to adhere are quickly cast aside to out-maneuver one’s political opponent and influence the minds of the uninformed, malleable citizenry.

So few people (with good intentions) willingly participate in the political process for these reasons: power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the pursuit of power can corrupt just the same. Having spent several years interested, invested, and involved in politics at all levels of government, I have little reason to blame the many who are apathetic and indifferent to the ruling class of society. For all my thick skin, principled passion and stubborn resistance, I, too, have on occasion considered abandoning the cause of liberty to spare myself the stress, the disappointment, and the absolute disgust with those who claim to be something they clearly are not.

In 1839, Joseph Smith made the following assessment of the condition of men which has remained the same up to our own day:

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

Two years ago, President Thomas S. Monson said the following:

We live in a complex world with currents of conflict everywhere to be found. Political machinations ruin the stability of nations, despots grasp for power, and segments of society seem forever downtrodden, deprived of opportunity, and left with a feeling of failure.

Unrighteous dominion may be exercised once power is obtained, but the quest to acquire that power can be equally offensive and destructive. Ironically, though many people are driven away from politics due to this revolting display of arrogance and deceit, its pervasive existence at all levels of politics means that good, honest and wise people are needed that much more. It is their abandonment and absence that further enables the opposition and cedes power to those who so viciously chase it. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” said Edmund Burke.

President Gordon B. Hinckley commented likewise:

We are involved in an intense battle. It is a battle between right and wrong, between truth and error, between the design of the Almighty on the one hand and that of Lucifer on the other. For that reason, we desperately need moral men and women who stand on principle, to be involved in the political process. Otherwise, we abdicate power to those whose designs are almost entirely selfish.

The lust for this political power can be quite enlightening to those who pay close attention and can sift through the several superficial layers of allegations, promises, and rhetoric. But this requires time, energy, interest, and the ability to discern what is being said and done behind the press releases, the polished platforms, the excused votes, and the attacks. This is no easy task in the refined world of public relations, a world in which uninformed individuals are easily captivated and convinced by deceptive persuasion.

The solution is not to jump ship, but to fight our way to the control room and commandeer the vessel. Where corruption is discovered, we must root it out. Unjustly and ironically incarcerated in a jail titled “Liberty”, Joseph Smith wrote that “we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness.” Our duty is to not acquiesce to power-lusting politicians, but to counter their lies and take part in the desperate struggle for political power that, if left unchecked through our unwillingness to promote truth and liberty, will only entrench the oppression which perpetually seems to hang over our heads.


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