This Vulgar Man Has Squandered Our Decency

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“Character is the only secure foundation of the state.”

“It was all bullshit.”

From the birth of the Republic — indeed, from the birth of Athenian democracy — it has been an article of faith that self-governance cannot survive without leaders of character.

“Not much probity is needed for maintaining or sustaining a monarchical government or a despotic government,” wrote the Baron de Montesquieu, whose philosophy inspired the Framers. “But in a popular state, one more recourse is necessary, which is virtue.”

Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 68, confidently predicted that the Constitution would prevent those with “talents for low intrigue” from reaching the highest office: “There will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters preeminent for ability and virtue.”

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