Edmund Burke is credited with the quote: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Certainly, we are told by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:21, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” In this case, the Greek word used for “overcome” can be interchanged with “conquer.” We are not to be conquered by evil, but to conquer evil with good. So Burke’s quote is quite right in the sense that if good men do nothing in the face of evil, evil with triumph. This is one of the problems we have with our political system. Year after year we elect the same kinds of people and we expect them to do what they say. We are mostly disappointed because of a lack of quality and character.
People have often asked about why we have such questionable candidates running for office. The choices, they say, are subpar. The short answer is that we need to recruit better candidates. That recruitment process starts at the local level, meaning that we should be involved at the precinct or county committee level and exercise our opinions on candidate selection. But even at that foundational level of all politics, there is built into the system these days a tremendous flaw. Those who run for office may start out believing they can make a difference, but the longer they are in politics and the higher the office they seek, the less in touch they are with their original values. It really is a true formula.
Over my years in politics, I saw really good people with great ideals slowly erode into minions for the party machine or other outside influences that “redirected” their thoughts and stances on issues they once held dear as non-negotiable. Moreover, the very essence of politics in today’s environment would strongly discourage or even prevent a good person from running for office. Who in their right mind would subject their family, friends, business associates, or even themselves to a process that seeks as a price of entry the destruction of reputations built over a lifetime? Everything that was done by a candidate during his life is open to the twisting of half-truths or lies or worse by the opposition.
In many cases-and I know this is true because I am a veteran of political campaigns-a lie is spoken on purpose to get a willing reporter to write a story. Once the story is written, it has legs that can be run through the public, then used again in negative campaign ads, and can be recycled in debates, and so on. Often these lies are proven to be lies long after the election-long after the reputation is ruined, marriages are left on questionable ground, jobs are lost. This is what our political system has become. No good person would even enter the building politic knowing this risk. Hence, evil advances. It takes a special kind of person to put all at risk to overcome this evil. They are hard to find.