We have just held an election in which the American people put what we are more and more calling “tribalism” on the front burner of our politics. While it is important to understand the passions and fears of our fellow citizens, our constitutional republic was not established to foster tribalism of any kind.
The Preamble to our Constitution holds that: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Beating at the heart of our constitutional democracy is the ethical proposition that “Public Office is a Public Trust.” But what does this mean? Where did the idea come from? Is it still true? How can we tell a good public servant from an unworthy one?
Those who were elected to office on November 6th were chosen to hold public office. Before assuming such offices, they will be asked to take an oath to be faithful in the execution of that trust responsibility, faithful not just to those who voted for them but to all of us, our state and our country.
How can they more fully understand the law and the tradition setting forth the duties of office that will soon be theirs in service of our citizens? Through study and discussion as always since our founding as a nation.
I’m delighted to invite you to participate in the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism’s (CRT) workshop on Public Office as a Public Trust scheduled for 8:30 am on Thursday, March 28th at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
The workshop is a new initiative to encourage and professionalize elected and appointed public officials at all levels, as well as those who aspire to elective or appointive office, to live up to the highest standards of stewardship responsibility.
The mission of the workshop is to promote good stewardship in office, thoughtful trusteeship and enlightened fiduciary practices using the CRT’s Principles for Government as best practices. The commitment of the workshop is taken from George Washington’s remarks to the delegates at the 1787 Constitutional Convention that “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest may repair.”
For some time now and to the great detriment of our state and country, a narrowness in serving the common good has dominated our politics, resulting in a system of government that is polarized, fractured and unable to effectively address even its most basic challenges. The workshop will train you in the tried and tested ideals of public service.
The workshop will present historic, intellectual and moral foundations for the ethics of public stewardship, including the Bible, John Locke, Adam Smith, Max Weber and the Federalist Papers, among others.
The agenda will include:
1. Pew Research Center findings on political polarization
2. Movie High Noon: public trust and personal courage
3. The Moral Sense: human nature and natural justice
4. CRT Principles for Government
5. History of trust responsibilities
The two main presenters will be myself and Doran Hunter, Emeritus Professor of political science at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Tuition is $50 per person (does not include cost of lunch). Space is limited.
For more information or to register, please click here.
The session will adjourn at 4:30 pm.
The CRT is an international network of senior leaders from business, government, academia and non-profit institutions who work together to improve private enterprise and public governance around the world.