Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
— Lord Acton
I have over 10,000 books in my personal library. I haven't read them all. Some I haven't even opened.
I recently discovered one such book. When I opened this 1974 book, I discovered it was autographed by the author. I think I bought it at a John Birch Society bookstore.
I was too young and politically immature to know much about the author. I had heard of the author when I was in high school because I lived close to his political district, but never learned much about him. Perhaps because he was Catholic, and I was a pretty narrow-minded Protestant.
As I skimmed through the book a few days ago, I realized I had a lot more in common with this author than I ever suspected. If I knew he was a conservative, I had no idea he believed Christianity must be applied politically. Were he alive today, he would be lambasted as a "Dominionist," a "Theocrat," and likened to those "Christian Reconstructionists." Just like me.
The subtitle of the book is "The Anatomy of an Amoral Decade, 1964-1974." It is a collection of the author's newsletter articles. The articles could easily have been pulled from Christian Reconstructionist newsletters like Gary North's Remnant Review. They are conservative and many are explicitly Christian, in a way most Christian-in-name-only "conservatives" are afraid to be. Here are some of the subject headings in the table of contents:
- Enduring Values, Absolute Truths
- Morality in an Amoral Age
- The Right to Life
- Education and Child Control
- Judicial Tyranny
- The Nature of our Enemy
- The Sellout to Red China
- Trading With the Enemy
- The Enemy Within
- National Defense
- Big Government vs. the Free Market
- Decline of the Dollar
- The Welfare Burden
- Gun Control and Crime
- Government Control of Medicine
- The Energy Crisis
The Foreword to the book was written by L. Brent Bozell, who married William F. Buckley's sister and was influential in National Review circles. His son, L. Brent Bozell III, is founder and president of Media Research Center. Bozell is listed under his Foreword as the President of the "Society for the Christian Commonwealth," and senior editor of Triumph Magazine. The "triumphalist" R.J. Rushdoony contributed to this magazine.
Bozell's Foreword paints a glowing picture of a political saint. I should be so lucky as to have some distinguished figure write such hagiography for me. Looking ahead from 1974, it is inspiring. I would like to be such a person. Looking back on history, it is frightening. I don't want to be this person. But maybe that's where political aspiration inevitably leads.
Here is Bozell's Foreword:
The Christian regeneration of the American public order in an apostate, secular humanist age: there can hardly be a more difficult task for any man or group to undertake in the United States today. It demands in very large measure all the theological virtues -- faith, in the source of the grace which alone can make such a regeneration possible; hope, that it is not and never will be too late to save even a nation whose moral disintegration has so far advanced that millionfold baby murder is a constitutional right; love, to inspire the sacrificial efforts necessary to sustain any such mission in contemporary America. The man who embraces this apparently quixotic cause is, by virtue of his extraordinary commitment, unique.
Rarely is this commitment found in America today. More rarely still is it found in the political arena, whose usual effect on a man is more likely to corrupt than to inspire.
Yet this is precisely the commitment to which John Schmitz's eight years of elective political office -- first in the California State Senate, then in the United States Congress -- finally brought him. Always a strong, unapologetic Catholic, Schmitz realized more and more clearly the longer he worked in politics that nothing could help our country short of a fundamental re-ordering of American life and thought in a Christian direction. No mere tinkering with political machinery or "electing better men to office" could halt, let alone reverse, the dominant tides of the age: secularization, dehumanization, the disintegration of the family, the abandonment of objective moral standards, the institutionalization of sexual perversion, crime and corruption.
As he so well said in TRIUMPH magazine last year: "It is time we realized that the sickness in America today has penetrated far deeper than politics, and requires much more than politics to cure it.
As a candidate for President of the United States in 1972 -- the year of Watergate and "you don't want McGovern, do you" -- Schmitz, though very little known outside California when the campaign began, garnered more than a million votes. This was a truly extraordinary accomplishment for a man whose campaign began with no money and less than a week's advance notice, a man whose name was not even printed on the ballot in nearly one-third of the states, and who had no explicit support from any leading political figure.
This book tells the story, through a "political autobiography" and a selection of the best of Schmitz's political writings of the past decade, of how John Schmitz made his way from a conventional kind of conservative politics in California, through a Presidential candidacy, to a conviction that the United States must seek actively and purposefully to become a Christian commonwealth if it is to survive. I salute this man for his understanding of the duty to which God is calling America's Christians in this difficult and often discouraging period of history, and his open and unequivocal assumption of the essentially apostolic mission of making America Christian.
Where Schmitz will go from here is known only to the Lord of men and of history. But how he came to be where he is today -- how he came to see where America truly stands at this moment, what he said about it and proposes should be done about it -- this book sets forth. Schmitz finished his years in public office a better man than when he entered it -- the opposite of what usually happens. He is apparently proving that the Christian is not ruled by history or by fate, but with God's guidance and grace may challenge and even defy both -- and in the end emerge victorious in that domain whose true and eternal rule is Christ the King.
Why is it that those who seek political power so often seek some kind of sexual power as well?
Why is it L. Brent Bozell and other discerning political leaders never see the scandals coming? Could anyone have predicted Schmitz's future unraveling?
Every time I think about jumping my political campaigning up a notch, in the vain imagination that I could actually win an election, I'm warned by something like this of the corrupting influence of "the government." I want a Christian society, but not a "Christian commonwealth."