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The Last Honest Politician?

By Jim Huskins

McDowell CountyJim Huskins McDowell County, NC

An old story claims that a Vermont county once hired an administrator to oversee public works. After a year on the job, residents were shocked to learn that he had diverted a road project. The expensive, fourteen-mile detour provided convenient access to the administrator’s driveway.

Public pressure to fire the man was high when the local council convened. After much discussion, the moderator asked if anyone could think of a reason why the administrator should not be fired. An old farmer rose and said, “Yep, he’s already got his road.”

Ordinary people have always understood Nietzsche’s famous proclamation, “Power corrupts!” This is why America’s founders insisted on limited government. Some government is necessary, but the Constitution legitimizes only a bare minimum. Moses was aware of human corruptibility when he took the first steps to establish a judicial system for the recently freed nation of Israel.

Exodus 18 recounts the burden Moses bore as he attempted to judge disputes among what may have been two million people. Jethro, priest of Midian, gave his son-in-law the good advice summarized in verse 21: “Look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.” Each level of appointed leaders judged the matters brought to them. When they encountered a particularly difficult case, they referred it to the next higher court. Moses only had to judge the most difficult situations. This dramatically reduced his need to exert civil authority. He was freed to focus on the critical work of conveying God’s Law, building the Tabernacle, and establishing the priesthood.

The key to representative government is found in Jethro’s description. The appointed chiefs were to be capable, Godly, honest, and not corrupt. These are the exact qualities envisioned by America’s founders as they hammered out the details of our Constitution.

Jefferson expected civic-minded farmers and merchants to devote two years to serve in the House of Representatives and then return to make a living under the rules they had helped establish. The Founders would be shocked to learn that “politics” is now a career path to fabulous wealth. Getting elected to national office is unimaginably expensive. Everyone who takes office does so under an oppressive cloud of obligation. Who finances those campaigns, and what level of influence do these financiers exert over what is supposed to be government “of the people, by the people, and for the people?”

I thought about the current sad state of the American Experiment as I recently joined a few dozen people gathered beside an impressive gravestone tucked away in a remote corner of Western North Carolina. We were there to pay final respects to Dan Vance, a man who had been an institution in Avery County for most of his ninety-one years. I was blessed with the opportunity to speak briefly about this one I had known well and loved deeply. I thought it appropriate to invoke the most impressive compliment in history.

Jesus began His ministry by surrounding Himself with young men whom He would train to be leaders. This recruitment is mentioned by all four Gospel writers, but John provides a unique insight. While choosing those who will eventually judge the Twelve Tribes of Israel, Jesus encountered Nathaniel. He turned to His students and said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” The Son of God proclaimed that Nathaniel was uncorrupted by deceit. Everyone who had gathered to pay respects to Dan Vance understood the inference.

Dan was my mother’s brother and the last of my uncles. By the time he was twenty, he had served active, honorable duty in the Korean War and had returned to where he was reared. He spent most of his life in public office. He served as register of deeds, building inspector, DOT maintenance supervisor, and other service positions. For fifty years, he ran the clock at Avery High football and basketball games.

The amazing aspect of his record is that no one can find even a hint of Dan being suspected of corruption or dereliction of duty. Every report related to his public employment insists that his work was exemplary. How is that possible? My uncle was as human as the rest of us. He was a sinner saved by grace, and yet, he refused to be ruled by his sinful nature.

That refusal is the core issue of Dan’s life. Due in part to his mother’s influence, Uncle Dan committed his life to Christ at an early age, and he never looked back. His devotion to Christ’s Church is legendary. He joyfully lived out the clear instruction found in Psalm 37:3, “Trust in the Lord and do good.”

Many modern “doctrines” make the absurd claim that men and women are incapable of doing anything which pleases God. That is the opposite of what the Bible teaches. Count the number of times where God says, “You must be holy for I AM holy.” Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments,” and He told us to hunger and thirst after righteousness. Paul tells us, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

My uncle Dan had no trouble understanding that God’s people must stand apart from the ways of this perverted world. He chose to do good and not do evil. Never did he fall into the trap of thinking that he was attempting to “earn salvation.” He read in the Bible that Christians are to lead holy lives, and so he did.

Dan Vance did not attempt to lead a holy life because he was a good politician. He was a capable and honest public servant because he devoted every aspect of his life to Godly standards.


Jim & Beverly Huskins are members of Obedient Heart Fellowship in McDowell County. Obedient Heart Fellowship meets each Sabbath (Seventh Day) at 3023 US 221 N. Marion, NC. 10:00 A.M. 828-460-7913.

You can read more good Christian news from Jim HERE.