Michael J. Kerrigan

I am a blessed man, husband to a loving wife of 42 years, and proud father of three UVA lawyers. All my children survived my parenting, married well, albeit to more lawyers, and graced our ever-expanding clan with 12 beautiful and talented grandchildren.

My career has not always been as idyllic as my family life. I have labored in the tough advocacy business, lobbying in Washington and in the states. The first half of my career included work representing tobacco. Through that time, like Diogenes, I wondered if an honest man could be found among the assertive legislators, lawyers and lobbyists who shape and prod what emerges from our Congress and our state legislatures. I even questioned whether, if Diogenes were successful, would I be among the “found”? My soul-searching found me falling back upon my Catholic upbringing and firmly committing, in spite of secular challenges, to “know, love, and serve God in this world.” I preached the priorities of “God, family, country” to my children because I believed them myself. In the advocacy business, I would defend the right of all sides of any argument to be heard, but I would neither cross the line to murky conduct, nor personally yield to expediency. My growing conviction about the necessity of seeking the “greater good” and avoiding evil led me to meet others in politics that seemed to share this goal; it enabled me to make many sincere friends in the halls of power. My friendships with them have been, and continue to be, based on a shared pursuit of “God, family, country,” coupled with the simple enjoyment of a good pal … nothing more, nothing less.

As I transition from lobbying for commercial clients to advocating character building, I feel an urgency to pass on the “God, family, country” priorities to my grandchildren and to the rising generation of Americans. Keeping these three in focus allowed me to grow in virtue and keep a healthy balance in an arena fraught with temptations. I hope to share my approach with others who plan a career in politics. I intend to raise awareness among all who will listen about the importance of cultivating in their daily lives, something as old as Greece and Rome, the Aristotelian habit of good conduct called virtue. By again passing on the need for virtue, the capstone of our Judeo-Greco-Roman-Christian heritage, I hope to inspire the next generation of public servants to seek both the “greater good” and personal virtue.

Politics with Principle is my contribution toward raising virtue literacy in our country. It is proof-of-principle that virtue and politics need not, and must not, be severed from one another. I intend to assemble from this first step a comprehensive Character Building Project (http://www.characters-with-character.com/). Please visit the Web site and join my virtue literacy campaign.

Politics with Principle

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10 Character Profiles
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Ambassador Charles T. Manatt (Ret.) The Honorable Richard J. Santorum
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