“When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property, and justly liable to the inspection and vigilance of public opinion; and the more sensibly he is made to feel his dependence, the less danger will there be of his abuse of power” — Thomas Jefferson
We’re planning to be visiting Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, on the way back north this weekend, so it’s understandable that things Jeffersonian are on my mind this week (vying for space with all of the other thoughts bouncing around in there). This particular quote is one of those that seem to have remained relevant over the past 115 years or so. But I often wonder if, historically even in Jefferson’s day, the pressures of the court of public opinion don’t drive some leaders to become more authoritarian rather than less, and therefore more likely to abuse their power, as a reaction against criticism. Just some food for thought.
Thomas Jefferson’s official presidential portrait borrowed from biography.com.