“There’s a sucker born every minute,” P.T. Barnum is alleged to have said. And whether he said it or not, it’s certainly true. And when we add all those newborn suckers to the old fools already here, we really wind up with a population problem. Sucker: “a person easily cheated or deceived.” And who is that? We’d hate to say the majority of the American people-the most educated, sophisticated and highfalutin people in the world. But, then, someone elected Richard Nixon.
If Nixon had been a rotten king, no one but Nixon would have been to blame for the way he’s run things. But the American people freely elected him to the presidency. Now they have no one to blame but themselves. The trouble is that like it or not we are suckers. And to make matters worse, we can be relied upon to fall for the same tricks again and again.
Certainly we all must acknowledge that the chief executive post of the world’s leading democracy calls for a man of great integrity, sobriety and intelligence who will act in the best interests of the citizens. Only a man whose intelligence can rule his senses can be entrusted with such important responsibilities.
But who will select such a chief executive? In 1972 the American people overwhelmingly endorsed Richard M. Nixon. Now they’re beginning to see what they voted for–a man of questionable character who apparently cheated his country for the sake of his own bank balance and political ambitions, a man whose intelligence and sense of duty seem too weak to control his desires.
Who elected such a leader? Fools! The same fools who smoke fire to keep “kool” and who think Coke to be “the real thing.” The same fools who ventured into the New Frontier to find a Great Society and found instead the Vietnam war. The same fools who thrilled and cheered as man set off to conquer space and who woke up a few billion dollars later with nothing but heaps of “moon rocks.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, the greatest show on earth-democracy! Government of the people! By the people! For the people!” But when the people are easily manipulated by false propaganda financed by self-interested businessmen and politicians, democracy is little more than a farce. In such a perverted democracy, ignorant voters elect useless leaders. Thus the blind lead the blind, and the entire society falls into a ditch.
If the democratic form of government is to be at all meaningful, the voters must be qualified voters who know how to discriminate between a Madison Avenue illusion and a genuinely substantial political leader.
From many points of view, Mr. Nixon was an excellent choice for the presidency. He was a widely experienced administrator whose shrewdness in foreign policy is almost undeniable. His defect, however, was his personal character.
How can we insure that the man we elect will be a man of integrity? The Vedic literature declares:
“One who has unflinching devotion for the Personality of Godhead has all good qualities. But one who is riot a devotee of the Lord has only material qualifications that are of little value. This is because he is hovering on the mental plane and is certain to be attracted by the lure of materialism.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 5.18.12)
Thus if we want our leaders to be men we can trust, they must be not only materially qualified but also God conscious, or Krishna conscious. Otherwise we will simply remain a society of cheaters and the cheated.
A Krishna conscious person can actually be entrusted with the leadership of a great nation because he is above material desires. He knows that there is no greater gain in life than the service of Krishna. Therefore the vested interests cannot buy and sell him like ordinary mundane politicians. He performs his duty conscientiously as a service to the Supreme Lord, and because he is serving the Supreme, he diligently serves all his citizens, whom he sees as being parts and parcels of the Supreme. If one waters the root of a tree, one automatically serves all the leaves and branches. Similarly, only a leader who serves Krishna can properly serve his citizens.
Therefore, the American people- and the people of the entire world-must be educated to demand of their leaders that they be Krishna conscious, God conscious. America’s motto, “In God We Trust,” indicates the proper direction in which the people of America and the world must turn. One who does not put his trust in God must ultimately place his trust in the illusions of this material world-and thus become entangled in an endless network of perplexity. Illusioned voters thus entangled will repeatedly elect illusioned leaders to continue a bewildered society for backwards progress. To have a truly progressive society, we must place our confidence in leaders who are Krishna conscious. If one puts his trust in a servant of illusion rather than a servant of God, illusion will make him a sucker indeed-again and again and again.