OK, a little background.  I am a teacher.  I teach 9th grade Civics.  I am a conservative.  Unlike my liberal colleagues, I do not indoctrinate students under the guise of education.  When I am sharing my opinions, I clearly advertise that they are, in fact, opinions.

One of the first encounters students have with my opinions is on the second day when I share with them "Smith's Laws of Politics".  These laws started out as just three simple laws, the first being the only one that has not changed over the years.  That first rule is simple: "All Politicians Lie".

Over the years, rules have come and gone ("there is no such thing as true bipartisanship," and "there is no greater waste of money than to give it to the government").  I have tried very hard to keep the list short and sweet.  I drill the first and fifth law into the students, and they can recite law #1 upon command (I think a good dose of cynicism about the government is healthy for the mind and soul).

Anyways, some of the laws overlap somewhat and I am having a hard time editing them.  The Laws as they stand right now are: 
  1. All politicians lie.
  2. Modern politics is about the acquisition and use of power.
  3. When someone discusses politics with you, their goal is to get you to agree with them.
  4. An informed voter is a threat to a politician's power.
  5. Asking the right question is as important as the answer.
  6. "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have." - Davy Crockett
I have pretty much eliminated #6.  I am debating about keeping the five as they are and just changing th eorder, or combining #2 & #4 and make room for something else.

I figured I would tee this off and have the other members of TCU weigh in.  Any ideas are appreciated, good ideas are appreciated even more so.

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What a marvelous list and what a wonderful thing to do! I think 2 & 4 are covered by something that Thomas Jefferson said. You may know it.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
- Thomas Jefferson

It seems to me that #2 & #4 are in some sense two sides of the same coin.

Let's see my brainstorm suggestion would be
1. "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
- Thomas Jefferson
2. "Liberty is the engine of prosperity." -- This is one I cooked up, but I have seen a Margaret Thatcher quote that is similar
3. “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money” -- I think this covers dishonest politicians in a clever way
- Alexis de Tocqueville
4. "An informed voter is a threat to a politician's power." -- I was trying to think of how this can be adjusted a little bit. I don't think the word threat is quite right. How about something like "An informed voter curbs the politician's power"? I'm thinking of something more like a cure for a disease rather than mitigating a threat.
5. "Asking the right question is as important as the answer." -- I used to work for a character who often said "Always ask the 2nd question". This is a variation of the same fine theme -- ask questions, which is good advice for living one's life.

Good luck with this.
I really, REALLY like the de Toqueville quotation. Actually, I am also working on a "great quotations" project where students will have to read, analyze and respond to a great quotation from the founders. I agree with the verbage change from threat to curb ... kind of like a mother curbing her toddler's cookie intake, which if voters had done years ago, our government wouldn't be as bloate as it is (think childhood obesity epidemic there ... I kinda like that parallel).
I think Mike's list looks pretty good. You may want to consider some from Barry Goldwater.
Who will proclaim in a campaign speech: "I have little interest in stream lining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undrtake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. Its not to inaugurate new programs but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarrented financial burden. I will not attempt to discover wheather legislation is "needed" before I have first determined whether it is Constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents' interests, I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can".
Quote: Barry M. Goldwater (R_AZ) (1909-1998),
"Conscience of a Conservative", BN Publishing 1964/2007 p 17
Jim, firstly, having a daughter that just finished her ninth grade year, I regret someone such as yourself was not one of her teachers. Now...

Politician: One who can sucessfully convince a majority of their constituency of their need for the unnecessary.

A definition that loosely ties both #2 & #4 perhaps. It seems to be the case today at any rate. And I'll end with a quote...

"It is an object of vast magnitude that systems of education should be adopted and pursued which may not only diffuse a knowledge of the sciences but may implant in the minds of the American youth the principles of virtue and of liberty and inspire them with just and liberal ideas of government and with an inviolable attachment to their own country." --Noah Webster, On Education of Youth in America, 1790
Jim, as Mike and others have stated a good list of basic principles ... well thought through I'm sure over many years of trial and adjustments.

Since you are asking for opinions/input/ideas I might offer the following for what they are worth.

# All politicians lie I would modify to: # All politicians lie - eventually. This allows for the fact that there are politicians that start out for the right reason and have worthy goals. Corruption occurs over time and with achievement of power and position it seems. Perhaps students should be assured that there are some good (ok, "better") politicians out there ... they are just few and far between.

# Modern politics is about the acquisition and use of power.
The only thing I would add here is the short clarifier "- on behalf of someone." This pushes one to realize that power is not always for selfish motives or selfish ambition by the politician. Sometimes the power is sought for "a worthy reason" .. on behalf of a group they represent. Sometimes power is sought to check power (seize power) from others that have abused it. Today's political battle is a good example.

# When someone discusses politics with you, their goal is to get you to agree with them. (Don't know how I could improve on that one, unless one wanted to word it "When someone discusses politics with you, it is always to search for agreement or to silence opposition.") Most people don't really "win" political arguments, they simply outlast others until there is no voiced opposition. Don't ever mistake silence for agreement - another great management lesson some of us have learned the hard way :-)

# An informed voter is a threat to a politician's power. Or perhaps seizing a bit on Mike's suggestion, A voter informed with truth is a buffer against a politician's abuse of power

# Asking the right question is as important as the answer. I have always looked at this one from another angle, I guess. I might word it something like: "When seeking to know a politician's views, ask questions until either THEY are uncomfortable - or YOU no longer are." Then you will likely know where they stand on an issue. That said, I like yours, too.

Just thinking out loud, and it is a breath of fresh air to meet a true educator that worries about what they might be putting into kids. Thanks for the article !

(Oh, and if I were to add a #6, it would be "Change for the sake of Change - is not always a good idea, though always a temptation." Make sure change is sought for the right reason... anyone need an example?)
The sixth one you propse is intriguing. If I were to merge 2 & 4 I would probably add it in some shape or form. It may be seen as a direct tie to President Obama, so I would probably re-word it "Doing something just to appear to be doing anything causes more problems than it solves". As an example, we can use the Monica Lewinski scandal with President Clinton, President Obama's half-baked "plans" to solve the nation's "problems" (as he sees them). Remember, I am teaching Public School kids, and need to be able to claim nonpartisanship (though never have one of my liberal colleagues been accused of partisanship ... though the feminist lib that used to teach in the next room until she retired once remarked that she is surprised I don't insert my views into my teaching more often).

Being a bit of a geek I have to toss out a propeller-head joke after seeing "Doing something just to appear ... ". If motion is already Brownian it does no good to turn up the heat.
While we do understand your situation, you have asked a bunch of hard-core, very hard-core, conservatives what they think. The folks you find here are considered extreme by the media. Personally I consider it a badge of honor to be considered extreme by the MSM.
There are two advantages of being this extreme: 1. we are right; 2. we are aligned with the Founders. So, teaching history (Jim's missive) is the same thing as teaching conservatism.
Since I have always had a love for history, I kind of like these quotes from famous men in history:

#1: "Life, liberty and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." ~Bastiat

#2: "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action." ~George Washington

#3: "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... there are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." ~Noah Webster

#4: "The budget should be balanced. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered, and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt." ~Cicero

#5 - "You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves." ~Abraham Lincoln

Perhaps you could offer those quotes along with your Smith's Laws of Politics:

a. Absolute power corrupts absolutely - no politician is immune to lies and deceptions.
b. Power is the game of politics - you giving up power to those that want it.
c. When someone discusses politics with you, their goal is to either convert you or silence you.
d. Truth is a voter's buffer against abuse of power by politicians.
e. Change for the mere sake of change alone can often lead to unwitting disaster - that is the history of Socialism.

f. Question everything with boldness - let truth prevail.

John Stossel's Free to Choose post on TownHall has some relevance to this discussion and you might find it interesting.

My TCUNation post explains (I hope) the connection between liberty and prosperity.
I love number 5!
No. 4: An informed voter is a threat to political power. An UNinformed voter is a threat to liberty and the Republic.
No. 3: Political speak is synonymous with sales speak. The product may differ but the objective is the same.
No. 2: Politics is an artful and often scientific method of influencing and or controlling a society by controlling the individuals within it....namely YOU!
No. 1: The very nature of politics demands salesmanship, but not honesty. There is no "truth in lending law" or "lemon law."

I don't know if you will like these Mike, but I enjoyed contributing. I generally don't read all my messages on this site. I had 47 of them. LOL My email is: valeryane@aol.com
I like it, and especially the reminder that politics is retail sales.





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