While Joe Biden and Kamala Harris go on and on about leadership we should look back to leadership lessons from Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address.
Harris says she wants a mandate, yet Jefferson understood the country was a republic, not a democracy. In the Constitution, there are no provisions for claiming a governing mandate; claiming to have a mandate based on a majority vote, Jefferson would say violates a “sacred principle” and makes you an oppressive tyrant:
“Though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”
Many have pointed out that today’s progressives behave like “Medieval Inquisitors.” Jefferson pointed to political intolerance as “despotic” and as “wicked” as religious intolerance:
Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.
So, what should government do? Jefferson was clear:
A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
In his address, Jefferson didn’t promise a single new program, but he explored the principles by which he would lead:
Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies…