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Dear Friends,

Harry Truman once said that a "statesman is a politician who's been dead for 15 years." In other words, our view of the nobility and wisdom of our political leaders grows the further we get from their public service. Remember that the next time you see a bumper sticker with a photo of George W. Bush, bearing the legend, "Miss him yet?"

If we want a virtuous and just society, we cannot afford to concede that statesmanship is a lost art. As King's College professor David C. Innes notes, politics "politics is more than just good intentions. It requires knowledge, judgment and an ability to move people so that they want to follow you. Essentially it requires statesmanship. Statesmanship is the just, prudent and persuasive exercise of authority."

As statesmanship declines, public life becomes more tawdry. The personal corruption of political leaders deepens our cynicism, and the unwillingness of many officials to make tough but necessary policy choices seems more animated by their chances for re-election than the best interests of the country.

Speaking of the American Revolution, Queen Elizabeth II said, "We lost the American colonies because we lacked the statesmanship to know the right time and the manner of yielding what is impossible to keep." Statesmanship, or the lack thereof, can have profound consequences for the moral health of the nation and for the very existence of the political and social order.

Our Founders understood this. Writing in 1789, James Madison observed, "If individuals be not influenced by moral principles, it is in vain to look for public virtue; it is, therefore, the duty of legislators to enforce, both by precept and example, the utility, as well as the necessity of a strict adherence to the rules of distributive justice."

"Distributive justice," to Madison and his colleagues, meant a government that ensured fairness and dignity for all its citizens - justice that would be distributed equally, without favoritism.

Christian statesmanship involves the prudent application of justice. It also means that Christians must pray for elected and appointed public servants, that they would make such an application with courage and consistency.

Prayed for our government's leaders lately?


Rob Schwarzwalder

Senior Vice-President

Family Research Council

P.S Be sure to watch FRC's Webcast of our forum on international religious liberty, featuring five experts whose comments drew media coverage in The Washington Post.

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