Bec: Thanks for stopping by my blog and sharing with us today! And Happy Independence Day! Harold, please start by telling us all a little bit about yourself:
Harold: I have had a lifelong passion for politics. I still remember sitting in front of the television Election Night – at the age of six — to see whether President Eisenhower was going to be re-elected. I’m not sure why I was for either candidate at such a tender age. My mother has always loved history and told me lots of stories about the Founding Fathers and other historical figures when I was a child. As I grew older, my interest in politics mystified my family – no one before me was ever politically involved, except to vote. I see politics as a practical way to apply historical knowledge.
I graduated from Ohio Northern University with a major in political science, and actually had a few jobs in my major, including four years working for a county political party and helping to run a statewide judicial campaign. I also volunteered to help candidates and ran twice for local offices. However, I also learned programming for personal computers and landed a job with the State of Ohio, which started 22 years away from politics. Those 22 years gave me a perspective that people cannot get when they are in the trenches every day. I retired from the state last August.
Bec: Tell us about your website and your coaching program:
Harold: Andrew Jackson said, “Eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty.” The Founders made it clear that our system could not work without active participation by ordinary people. When we leave everything to professional politicians, we lose control of our government. Every citizen should be involved in at least one issue at the local, school district, state, or national level.
Bec: What do you think would happen if EVERY U.S. citizen did something small, say, once a month toward their political goals and beliefs?
Harold: We would discover that our elected officials become more accountable to us, and less to their campaign donors. We would see our politicians work to solve real problems, in place of crises manufactured for partisan gain.
Bec: If you could change one thing in the political climate in the U.S., what would it be and why?
Harold: I would like to see us develop into a multiparty system, so that voters could more closely identify with a party’s philosophy and more enthusiastically support its candidates. This would not have to be chaotic – even 4-6 parties would be an improvement – just enough to deny one party a majority of the state legislature or Congress for any length of time. Nonpartisan elections sound like a good idea in theory, but I think it is human nature to back a faction.
Bec: How will you be spending the Independence Day holiday?
Harold: My wife and I will probably spend it quietly at home. Maybe watch a little more television than usual, or read a novel (I’m currently reading Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress).
Bec: Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you would like to share?
Harold: You do not need a lot of time, money, or political influence to have an effect on the political system. You just need an issue you care about and the desire to use your talents to support a cause. My website abitpolitical.com provides a simple three-step process that will help you identify your issue and decide how the things you like to do can be put to work for your cause.
Get A Bit Political and make a difference!
Bec: Thank you again for taking time to share with us!
Please enjoy the article below that Harold has written and graciously shared with us:
The Founding Fathers Were Real People
By Harold Thomas
In 1865, Constantino Brumidi painted “The Apotheosis of Washington” in the U.S. Capitol dome. The painting depicts George Washington rising to the heavens in glory, flanked by female figures representing Liberty and Victory. Surrounding them were thirteen maidens representing the original states. The word apotheosis literally means “raising a person to the rank of a god.”
This painting would have enraged George Washington. For him, leadership was a duty, not something to covet. In 1782, one of Washington’s officers, Col. Lewis Nicola, wrote him that the ineffectiveness of Congress during the war had demonstrated the ineffectiveness of republican government. In the colonel’s opinion, he should consider becoming a king.
Washington’s response was immediate. He read Col. Nicola’s letter, “with a mixture of great surprise and astonishment.” He continued, “[N]o occurrence in the course of the War, has given me more painful sensations than your information of there being such ideas existing in the Army as you have expressed, and I must view with abhorrence and reprehend with severity… You could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable.”
Revolutionary War generals privately criticized Washington as a poor strategist. He came close to losing the war in his siege on British-held New York. His strength was in his ability to select and motivate talented officers by his personal example of integrity. That ability manifested itself again when, as President, he selected a cabinet consisting of the most talented men in the country, two of whom (Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton) held opposite political views.
Following the British surrender at Yorktown, Washington immediately surrendered his commission to the Continental Congress. Britain’s King George III asked the American painter Benjamin West what Washington would do after winning independence. West replied, “They say he will return to his farm.” “If he does that,” the incredulous monarch said, “he will be the greatest man in the world.”
James Madison records in his notes that Washington, who was president of the Constitutional Convention, made only one speech. Just before its signing, he rose to agree with a proposal that one Representative should represent 30,000 people, instead of 40,000.
When he completed his second term as President, he rejected entreaties to serve a third. There is an old legend, that when one man suggested he should become a king, he swore at the listener and declared that he “would rather be on his farm than emperor of the world!”
Washington had virtually no formal education. Unlike many of the Founders who were lawyers, merchants, or diplomats, his experience was with the relatively humble pursuits of farming, surveying, and serving in the military.
Several Founders owned slaves, but could not figure out how to free them. Patrick Henry had a short temper. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were notorious ladies’ men; and following his service as Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton so mismanaged his law practice that he died a poor man. In short, the Founders were regular people, just like us.
Why, then, do we hold them in such high esteem? They totally committed themselves to a greater cause. They showed unusual courage in the face of British military power. They were not afraid to buck the crowd. At the beginning of the Revolution, only about three percent of Americans strongly favored independence. This speaks volumes about the Founders’ ability to persuade and lead others. Unlike most Americans today, they were self-employed. The advantage of self-employment was that they were free to take the time needed to achieve their objectives. However, carrying them out was an economic sacrifice.
On the other hand, modern Americans have one advantage they would have envied – instantaneous communication. All we really need to be more like the Founders is the courage to get “a bit political,” and work with others for a better society.
Have you enjoyed the interview and article?
Find out more about “A Bit Political” and Harold Thomas here:
Website (A Bit Political): www.abitpolitical.com
Also see my review for Harold’s Book, “Governing Ourselves”: http://varietyreviews.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/governing-ourselves-by-harold-d-thomas/
©Harold Thomas, 2014. All rights reserved.