Alan Keyes
Choice for speaker: Could reps actually do the right thing?
House members should 'to look beyond their own ambitions'
By Alan Keyes
October 6, 2015

In a column published last week, I suggested that members of the U.S. House of Representatives would do well to look beyond themselves for a new speaker to replace John Boehner. The proposal runs contrary to the elitist faction political culture that presently dominates the U.S. government. As one would expect with the rise to power of an oligarchic clique, that culture is ambition-focused, personality-driven, and power-obsessed. It foments a political mentality that leaves little room for even the pretense of disinterested concern for the common good of the nation.

This challenge to the deep corruption of the elitist faction sham may explain the interest the idea I proposed generated among my readers. It also explains the fact that many of them were doubtful the proposal had any chance of being well received or implemented by the present membership of the House. (I have made some effort to ascertain whether this doubt is justified. So far, I have found no reason to think it is not.)

If this proves to be the case, it is a sobering indication of the chasm that now separates the prominent political characters of our day from the generation that gave birth to the American people through sacrificial labor that delivered them into the world a free and independent nation. The institution of the Electoral College gives us some idea of what that first generation of American patriots saw as the politics likely to sustain the God-endowed liberty of a people fit to exercise it.

Like the U.S. House, what we now call the Electoral College was supposed to consist of elected representatives of the people. They were elected for one purpose only – to represent their constituents in the process of selecting the president of the United States. Honestly carried out, the office of elector was not one liable to satisfy ambitious characters, hungry to enjoy wielding power, or to benefit personally from distributing its perks. No doubt a certain honor would attach to being chosen for the office, assuming the choice signified that people who were worthy of respect were willing to cast their votes for someone they trusted to represent their goodwill and judgment.

But in other respects, the choice of an elector would mainly focus on the functional purpose of the position, which is to understand and apply the mind and goodwill of the people to the business of identifying the person whose elevation to the presidency of the United States would best serve the good of the nation. This involves a common sense of the standards and purposes in light of which to ascertain that good, focusing especially on the most critical issues and challenges facing the American people as a whole.

Nothing about that focus makes a virtue of the burning desire for office, or the capacity for promoting oneself by skillfully flattering or denigrating others, at whatever cost to truth and decency. As described in the Constitution, nothing about the process requires the supremacy of party loyalty or allegiance to any cause or purpose but the goal of casting a vote that represents the best judgment and goodwill of the people the elector is supposed to represent.

Does this differ, in principle, from what citizens should expect of any and all of the people they choose to represent them in the various offices and functions of government that are subject to their choice? The electors for president are supposed to focus on the good of the nation. The body of electors for other positions, at other levels of government, are supposed to focus on the good of the community those they elect will serve. Except for this, what people look for and expect from a presidential elector is exactly what they ought to look for and expect from everyone entrusted with the position of an elector, including of course themselves.

Tragically, for decades the strategy of the elitist faction has been to promote an understanding of elections that treats voters as registers of their own selfish interests, exercising a licentious freedom of choice that has no regard for their duty to the common good of their community. Elitist faction social scientists and pundits have described the "What have you done/what will you do for me?" mentality as the norm for electoral behavior. Aside from obscuring the real responsibility of citizenship, this makes the voters prey to endless manipulation, in campaigns replete with promises about "what the government will do for you if I'm elected," but not at all hospitable to thinking about what such exclusively self-regarding voting habits do to weaken and damage the whole community.

The corrupt elitist-faction political culture doesn't want citizens to be reminded that their vote represents a share in the sovereign power of the people. They wield it as the trustees of the obligation to God entailed by His endowment of their unalienable right of self-government. The proper use of sovereign power may benefit each individual; but it exists as such to benefit the whole community which they comprise. John F. Kennedy was right when he admonished Americans to "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." For this commitment to the good of the whole community is essential to the right exercise of sovereign power.

Tragically for the nation, the deeply corrupt elitist-faction political culture of our day seeks to restore the exclusive rule of the elitist few. It is a form of government in which the glorification and aggrandizement of a few individuals is the normal purpose of government power.

But the republican form of government is not about what belongs to a few people. It is about what belongs to the people as a whole. The duty of every citizen, like the function of the presidential electors, is to come together on the common ground of their concern for that public belonging in order to add their best will and judgment as individuals to the process of choice that determines the will of the people as a whole.

This is the main reason a sincere movement among members of Congress to look beyond their own ambitions would begin the process of restoring a true sense of citizen responsibility throughout the American electorate. Instead of a politics of enforced narcissism, replete with stories about the self-promoting competition of ambitious individuals, America would witness the sobering spectacle of their representatives lifting up the lamp of their goodwill for the people, with no thought but to find the best person to champion their cause in the battle to restore respect for the sovereign responsibility the U.S. Constitution entrusts to the people.

It may be that the present generation of elected officials in Washington is too far steeped in elitist faction corruption to be capable of setting such an inspiring example. If so, we should add their failure to do so to the multitude of proofs they have already given that it is long past time for the people of the United States to cast aside the elitist faction's partisan sham to devise a way to set that good example for themselves.

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at and his commentary at and

© Alan Keyes


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Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)


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