The Dupes of Designing Men

“I apprehend no danger to our country from a foreign foe. … Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government—from their carelessness and negligence—I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct.—that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing. Make them intelligent, and they will be vigilant—give them the means of detecting the wrong, and they will apply the remedy.”

Daniel Webster (1782-1852) Author, Lawyer and Patriot


Perhaps you have noticed that the usual means of electing the next national leader is underway. The media continues to spend countless hours leading you to the front runner of the moment and expounding on the drama of the latest debate and who voted for who in the latest primary or caucus, who thinks who is being negative, or {gasp} who stumbled over their words. Yet they never tell you in clear and explicit terms what each candidate stands for, what their record shows and what the policies are that each candidate intends to put into effect.

This should lead us to believe their goal is to shape opinion rather than to inform. If the past is any indicator of the present and the future, their version of the news will affect our lives in the days and years to come, and that effect could be devastating. Instead of providing substance, they drone on with inconsequential discussions of non-issues meant to distract or lead us to or from certain candidates for reasons of their own. They offer leading stories about which prominent individual is endorsing who and which candidate said what about their opponent.

You are responsible for your own education

Our education about who is running for office is up to us. It’s time for us to begin cramming for the test. The media cliff notes version about the candidates will not suffice for this exam. There is scant information there about principles or the practical implications to our lives of electing certain candidates. You need to know the candidates in and out beyond what the media has been telling you to focus on.

With the election of Barack Obama by a population who had no idea who he was, that same population now appears bent on continuing to follow the same formula for electing our next leader. In light of this, Daniel Webster speaks from the past as one who might as well live in the here and now. Some things obviously do not change. He had it right; it is very easy for the people of the US population to become the dupes of designing men, both nationally and locally.

It’s time for some scrutiny, some intelligent and vigilant research about who we vote into office. While we’ve been lulled by the latest non-stories of the day, the primary is sneaking up on us. We need to know the candidates before we vote. Don’t count on your email home page stories and ads or your TV to tell you anything except what they want you believe. They are selling you.

No one can make you intelligent. You have to choose to be a good consumer. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like people getting the best of me or tricking or misleading me into things that will steal my freedom or my livelihood. What about you? Will you be the dupe of designing men or will you do your own homework? Elections have consequences.

The valuable work of making important decisions should not be left in the hands of those whose voice does not represent our best interests.

Let the buyer beware!