This post continues where we left off in DEFINITIONS OF HONOR — PART 2.   Here we will discuss how we Americans define honor. 

American Notions About Honor

We all have an ideology of some sort.   Our ideology consists of our basic beliefs or guiding principles.  Most of us base our ideological beliefs upon a religious belief in God or gods.  Thus, we may be a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a pagan and so forth.  Since each religion teaches something different about how we came to be and what we should do with our lives, each has different merits.  Some religions teach beliefs that make their adherents dangerous to other people.  Some urge their adherents to love other people.  Some bind nations together in harmony.  Others promote despotism. 

We respect and honor the behavior of those who most earnestly and successfully practice our own beliefs.  Therefore, our religious beliefs affect what behavior we choose to honor.   Because America is largely a Christian nation, Christianity dominates our People’s notions about what behavior we should honor.  Moreover, because Christianity teaches us to love God and each other, our religious beliefs promote harmony.  Citizens expect and honor charity and kindness from each other. 

Nonetheless, even though most Americans of the 1830’s practiced Christianity quite sincerely, other beliefs also colored their notions of honor.  Perhaps the most important was their belief in pragmatism.

Pronunciation: \ˈprag-mə-ˌti-zəm\
Function: noun
Date: circa 1864
1 : a practical approach to problems and affairs <tried to strike a balance between principles and pragmatism>
2 : an American movement in philosophy founded by C. S. Peirce and William James and marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief
prag·ma·tist  \-mə-tist\ adjective or noun
prag·ma·tis·tic  \ˌprag-mə-ˈtis-tik\ adjective

Given today’s usage, the word pragmatism has a most appropriate origin. 

1540s, from M.Fr. pragmatique, from L. pragmaticus “skilled in business or law,” from Gk. pragmatikos “versed in business,” from pragma (gen. pragmatos) “civil business, deed, act,” from prassein “to do, act, perform.”

Many of us like to think of ourselves as practical and therefore pragmatic.  Therefore, when someone calls us a pragmatist, we usually consider it a compliment.  Yet if we intend to uphold our religious beliefs, we cannot allow our pragmatism to overrule our religious beliefs. 

In Democracy in America, Alexis De Tocqueville described the America of the 1830’s ideas about honor.  That included some insights as to how American pragmatism effected what Americans honored.   

The Americans make a no less arbitrary classification of men’s vices. There are certain propensities which appear censurable to the general reason and the universal conscience of mankind, but which happen to agree with the peculiar and temporary wants of the American community: these propensities are lightly reproved, sometimes even encouraged; for instance, the love of wealth and the secondary propensities connected with it may be more particularly cited. To clear, to till, and to transform the vast uninhabited continent which is his domain, the American requires the daily support of an energetic passion; that passion can only be the love of wealth; the passion for wealth is therefore not reprobated in America, and provided it does not go beyond the bounds assigned to it for public security, it is held in honor. The American lauds as a noble and praiseworthy ambition what our own forefathers in the Middle Ages stigmatized as servile cupidity, just as he treats as a blind and barbarous frenzy that ardor of conquest and martial temper which bore them to battle. In the United States fortunes are lost and regained without difficulty; the country is boundless, and its resources inexhaustible. The people have all the wants and cravings of a growing creature; and whatever be their efforts, they are always surrounded by more than they can appropriate. It is not the ruin of a few individuals which may be soon repaired, but the inactivity and sloth of the community at large which would be fatal to such a people. Boldness of enterprise is the foremost cause of its rapid progress, its strength, and its greatness. Commercial business is there like a vast lottery, by which a small number of men continually lose, but the State is always a gainer; such a people ought therefore to encourage and do honor to boldness in commercial speculations. But any bold speculation risks the fortune of the speculator and of all those who put their trust in him. The Americans, who make a virtue of commercial temerity, have no right in any case to brand with disgrace those who practise it. Hence arises the strange indulgence which is shown to bankrupts in the United States; their honor does not suffer by such an accident. In this respect the Americans differ, not only from the nations of Europe, but from all the commercial nations of our time, and accordingly they resemble none of them in their position or their wants.

In America all those vices which tend to impair the purity of morals, and to destroy the conjugal tie, are treated with a degree of severity which is unknown in the rest of the world. At first sight this seems strangely at variance with the tolerance shown there on other subjects, and one is surprised to meet with a morality so relaxed and so austere amongst the selfsame people. But these things are less incoherent than they seem to be. Public opinion in the United States very gently represses that love of wealth which promotes the commercial greatness and the prosperity of the nation, and it especially condemns that laxity of morals which diverts the human mind from the pursuit of well-being, and disturbs the internal order of domestic life which is so necessary to success in business. To earn the esteem of their countrymen, the Americans are therefore constrained to adapt themselves to orderly habits—and it may be said in this sense that they make it a matter of honor to live chastely.

On one point American honor accords with the notions of honor acknowledged in Europe; it places courage as the highest virtue, and treats it as the greatest of the moral necessities of man; but the notion of courage itself assumes a different aspect. In the United States martial valor is but little prized; the courage which is best known and most esteemed is that which emboldens men to brave the dangers of the ocean, in order to arrive earlier in port—to support the privations of the wilderness without complaint, and solitude more cruel than privations—the courage which renders them almost insensible to the loss of a fortune laboriously acquired, and instantly prompts to fresh exertions to make another. Courage of this kind is peculiarly necessary to the maintenance and prosperity of the American communities, and it is held by them in peculiar honor and estimation; to betray a want of it is to incur certain disgrace.

I have yet another characteristic point which may serve to place the idea of this chapter in stronger relief. In a democratic society like that of the United States, where fortunes are scanty and insecure, everybody works, and work opens a way to everything: this has changed the point of honor quite round, and has turned it against idleness. I have sometimes met in America with young men of wealth, personally disinclined to all laborious exertion, but who had been compelled to embrace a profession. Their disposition and their fortune allowed them to remain without employment; public opinion forbade it, too imperiously to be disobeyed. In the European countries, on the contrary, where aristocracy is still struggling with the flood which overwhelms it, I have often seen men, constantly spurred on by their wants and desires, remain in idleness, in order not to lose the esteem of their equals; and I have known them submit to ennui and privations rather than to work. No one can fail to perceive that these opposite obligations are two different rules of conduct, both nevertheless originating in the notion of honor.  (from here)

The Americans of the 1830’s honored hard work and material success.  Because of their pragmatic notions about honor, these Americans honored those who obtained wealth.  They understood that the success of one person benefitted every other person in the community.  Because of their Christian beliefs, these Americans also insisted that everyone engage in honest work.   They thought how we obtain wealth more important than obtaining wealth.


Before I get into the content of this post, I would like to reference another blog.  Please see  Big Senate Vote Monday! Contact Your Senator!

Now to the subject of this post.  When we elect a man or woman to high public office, we honor that person.  With an election, we say to the winner: “you are fit to lead us.”  Being only human ourselves, we sometimes choose poorly.  We have two problems.

  • We cannot dig into another man’s heart to know what is in it.  We can only see part of what another person has done; we can only honor those deeds which we deem fit to be honored. 
  • Because we are each imperfect, we sometimes choose poorly.  Instead choosing to honor the wiser and more competent candidate, we vote for that candidate who promises to steal from our fellow citizens on our behalf. 

When we choose poorly, more often than not we have at least some inkling we have done so.  How so?  One clue is childish name calling.  When the other candidate refuses to accedes to our demands, we will say that candidate is dogmatically stubborn.  We call him, for example, an “ideologue.” 

What is an  ideologue?  Here is the definition.   

Main Entry: ideo·logue
Variant(s): also idea·logue \ˈī-dē-ə-ˌlog, -ˌläg\
Function: noun
Etymology: French idéologue, back-formation from idéologie Date: 1815
1 : an impractical idealist : theorist
2 : an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology

Note that term ideologue has an emphatically negative connotation.    There are a few less negative “synonyms” that might be used to describe an advocate for a cause, terms such as apostle or exponent.  However, the thief rarely flatters his victim.

Delegate Bob Marshall

I rarely cite Greg Letiecq of, but I have an obligation to cite my sources, and this is one of those occasions, Bob Marshall Addresses Richmond 10th Amendment Rally. To give Greg his due, he does a good job of filming Republican rallies and Tea Party events, activites which the corporate news medias find curiously unappealing.

Thus, Letiecq posted the following video.

The video above features Marshall’s speech at the Tea Party in Richmond, Virginia, on January 18th.  In the video, we see Delegate  Bob Marshall taking a lead role in our state’s revolt against the Democratic Party’s statist agenda.  Marshall drafted and now advocates HB 10, the Health Care Freedom Act.  This is a bill that would give Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli tools to fight Obamacare. 

In spite of his steadfast courage — or perhaps because of it — Marshall’s opponents take delight in calling him an ideologue and various other names.   Because Marshall takes Christianity seriously, he frustrates them.  Marshall will not be “reasonable.”  He will not compromise his beliefs.

Instead of doing what “works” in the short term, Marshall earnestly fights to do what he believes is right.   How do we know that? 

  • We can see it his calm demeanor and confident arguments.  Marshall quite readily explains his reasons for his actions.  His opponents engage in the name calling.
  • We can see it in his record.  Marshall puts ideals before party.  Instead of going along to get along, Marshall has shown the willingness to take on both Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly.
  • Because Marshall is serious about his Christian beliefs, his position on an issue is predictable.   He needs no finger in the air to measure the shifting wins. 

The Christian honors the Word of God; the Christian honors those men and women who strive to obey the teachings of the Bible.  Likewise, the Conservative honors our nation’s Christian heritage and a belief fundamental to our nation’s founding.  God endowed us each with inalienable rights.  Government exists only to protect those rights.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.  (from here)

In his speech, Marshall reminds us to be wary of evil.  He reminds us why we must pray and ask God for His guidance.

Evil always comes under the guise of some good.

Government exists to protect our rights.  Government does not exist to feed us, cloth us, house us, or to aid the poor.  Those are personal responsibilities.   Unfortunately, in pursuit of a selfish agenda, dishonorable men and women will abuse the powers of government.   Under the guise of some good, they will grasp for power and wealth with Utopian promises.  Unless we restrain their ambitions, they will reduce us to serfdom, and they will use force to instruct our children to adopt their beliefs. 

Do you want your children to grow up in a free land?  Then you must do your best to identify, elect, and support honorable men and women.  Marshall’s bill needs your support.  Please take the time to contact your state senator. 

Other Views

Tertium Quids is covering Marshalls fight to protect our rights.  Here is the latest, F&P Radio: Bob Marshall on his health freedom bill.

The reminds us to call our state senator in support of Marshall’s bill and others, Big Senate Vote Monday! Contact Your Senator!

United Conservatives of Virginia reminds of the choice before us, Citizens or Serfs?

Here is the post where Letiecq used his video, Bob Marshall Defending The Bill Of Rights.

The Virginia Conservative protests against Bad Medicine

The Lee Brothers endorse Marshall’s bill, HB 10.

The Mason Conservative looks forward to Virginia’s 2012 US Senate race, Holiday Poll – US Senate 2012 RESULTS!


elephantgop.pngIt was the first meeting of 2010.  If the attendance was any indication, the Prince William County Republican Committee is getting off to a great start.    

This month the PWCGOP held its meeting at the west end of the county in Gainesville Middle School.  There was standing room only, excellent attendance by both the rank and file and our elected Republican officials. 

Committee Business

The committee focused its most intense interest on its own business.  Why?  This year’s elections provide a clue.  We have a sea change in progress.  The results of gubernatorial races Virginia and New Jersey and a senate race in Massachusetts show the People have become highly dissatisfied with their government.  PWCGOP members hope to translate that into Republican victories.  The question is how.

Thus, the meeting focused on obtaining the people and material resources needed to get the job done.    

  • Hiring an Executive Director.   Most seemed to see the primary task of this person as fund-raising.  However, others seemed to think that providing operational direction might be more important.
  • Headquarters buildings.  Because Prince William County is large and the population is split between the east and west ends, practical considerations indicate that two headquarters are needed. 

Due to cost considerations, both ideas received resistance.  No one could confidently explain how the PWCGOP would pay for these additional expenses.  Furthermore, some pointed out that candidate campaigns paid the costs of the temporary headquarters used during the last election.  

After the discussion, it became clear that both ideas still need to be fleshed out.   PWCGOP members referred both matters to the executive committee.

Author’s note

What this discussion indicated to me is the extent to which our political leadership has defanged modern political parties.   Essentially, our political parties have become the appendages of elected officials.  Both money and law constrain political parties. 

  • There is no shortage of money in politics, but donors find it much more effective to influence the political process by giving their money directly to candidates.
  • Through such shenanigans as primary elections, the rank and file membership lose their leverage.  Primaries do not allow party members choose their own candidates.

Nonetheless, there are many nonprofit groups promoting political causes.  In a county as large and rich as Prince William County, the PWCGOP should be able to rent a few buildings and hire full-time staff, particularly in the current political climate. 

What do I think should be done?  I think the PWCGOP needs to back up a bit.  Before we define our tools, we need to define the task.  The PWCGOP needs to clearly define what it exists to do.  Then it needs to plan how it will execute that task.

What is the job of a political party?  Is it not the job of a political party to fight for core values?  Don’t Republicans seek to elect candidates that will fight for its members core values? 

In practice, however, the PWCGOP too often serves as an appendage to the campaigns of relatively Conservative political candidates.  That is one reason few people seek to take part in the PWCGOP (or its Democratic Party counterpart).   It makes more sense to most people to work directly for their preferred candidates.  

At some time in the past, the major political parties forgot to focus on principles and invested their hopes in men.  They then gave up a portion the people’s right to freely assemble and petition the government, a first amendment right, to their leaders.  Fortunately, because the People are so frustrated by our current political leadership (including Republicans), the People are looking for solutions.  Hopefully, the People will see the need to stop our elected officials from using their powers to mangle political parties with unnecessary rules and red tape.  

In the meantime, I believe the PWCGOP must borrow ideas from some of our state’s more successful political advocacy organizations.  Consider The Family Foundation as an example.  A well-defined set of core principles defines the The Family Foundation.  The Family Foundation helps its members advocate these core principles to both the electorate and elected officials.   Similarly, if the PWCGOP wants to be more than a mere appendage to “its” candidates campaigns, the PWCGOP executive committee must define the PWCGOP’s core principles and show its members how they can help to further those principles. 

Candidate Speeches

The Republican Party will have a contested primary in the 11th Congressional District.  Socialist Democrat Gerald E. Connolly currently occupies this seat.  Connolly has become notorious for voting for a government takeover of our health care.

Two candidates for 11th Congressional District spoke to the PWCGOP, Pat Herrity and Keith Fimian.   Both gave excellent presentations denouncing big taxing and spending.  Herrity received a respectful hearing; however, when Fimian spoke,  the members of the PWCGOP responded with much greater enthusiasm.   Herrity gave a professional and polished presentation, describing his background and his accomplishments, but Fimian gave impression he spoke from the heart.  Moreover, Fimian reminded the PWCGOP he began his campaign to bring government spending under control before the November 2009 Republican victories in Virginia and New Jersey.  (Author’s note:  Instead of trying to “lead” the parade by running out in front of it, Fimian asked us to follow his lead.  Before cutting government down to size became popular, Fimian risked his reputation by staking out a well-defined position.)   

Howe Lind, running to be the Chair of the 10th Congressional District Republican Committee, gave a respectable presentation.  He did a good job of demonstrating his knowledge of what the position will entail. 

General Assembly Initiatives

Delegate Bob Marshall began by describing the Tea Party in Richmond, VA on January 18th as the largest such event he had seen at the Capitol (See here for a description.).  Marshall said the demonstrators had rallied for two bills.   

House Bill 10 would protect a person’s right to decline to participate in a health-care plan, and House Bill 69 says firearms and ammunition made in Virginia and retained here are not subject to federal regulation under the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.  (from here)

Marshall came to the PWCGOP to advocate HB 10, the Health Care Freedom Act, and HB 11, Defending Doctors.  Marshall has solid support from Republicans in the General Assembly for HB 10.  He attributed much of that support to the large rally in Richmond.  He clearly thought the event more significant than news media reports would indicate.  Unfortunately, support from the Democrats for HB 10 is still tepid, one Democrat each in the House and Senate.  Fortunately, his support in the Senate comes from Senator Colgan.  Thus the battle is not without hope.  In fact, we have this progress report.

In something of a surprise, the Senate’s commerce and labor committee voted 8 to 7 this afternoon to approve bills that would declare it illegal in Virginia to require a person to purchase health insurance. The bills will head to the floor of the Senate later this week, where they will likely test the resolve of the Democrats’ slim 22 to 18 vote majority in the chamber.  (continue here)

Why is Marshall concerned that Congress might succeed in requiring us to purchase health insurance.  If Congress can force us to buy health insurance, there will be no clear limit to what the government can force us to buy.  If we lose control of our property, we will become serfs.

See Marshall’s website (here) for more details on HB 10, the Health Care Freedom Act.  

Marshall provided a handout that included information HB 11, Defending Doctors.  The bill would provide for peer review. 

HB 11 provides that the denial by an Insurance Company for additional medical services requested by the treating physician must be affirmed by a medical peer of the treating physician.