Note to Dems: Reflect more, Resist less

August 6, 2017
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In December, 1776 General George Washington was facing the end of the Revolutionary War before it had barely begun.  After being chased out of New York, his army poorly provisioned, and enlistments expiring at the end of the year, Washington wondered if he would even have an army left to command.  He could have played it safe and hoped for a better 1777 but instead he spent the early morning hours of Christmas Day crossing the Delaware River for a surprise attack on Hessian forces camped in Trenton, New Jersey.  The victory provided the morale boost needed, the re-enlistments came, and the Continental Army survived to carry on the fight.

Eighty-Seven years later, President Abraham Lincoln took to the podium outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and reminded a nation at war with itself “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

By March of 1933 with an economy in collapse and millions of Americans out of work and unable to provide for their families, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered to a nation in crisis his immortal words that Americans had “nothing to fear but fear itself” and reassured “our distress comes from no failure of substance….Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered….we have still much to be thankful for.”

Three decades later a former WWII motor torpedo boat skipper by the name of John Fitzgerald Kennedy encapsulated the very essence of what it meant to be an “American” when he told a crowd of 35,000 gathered in the Rice University football stadium “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard;”

Twenty five years after JFK’s challenge to America that did indeed deliver men to the moon, Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate and issued his own to the Soviet Union with his “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” speech.

For over two centuries, America has been blessed by the fact that when crisis came, so too did a leader arrive to see us through.  Call it divine intervention or just plain dumb luck, (I’m siding with the former) when they were needed, there they were.

You can’t think of America without thinking of Washington, Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Reagan.  An America without them is an America empty.  They are the men that when it mattered most, did what was needed most.  They held us together and they guided us through.  They eased our sorrow, they shared our joy.  They shaped our identity both between ourselves and to the world around us.

But most of all, they made us better.

Not a day goes by that I do not thank God for being born an American.  Not a night comes around that I do not appreciate what was sacrificed before me that I live today.  And not a moment of that life have I ever wanted to be anywhere other than right here in this red, white and blue, land of the free, home of the brave, U S of A.

So how in the world with all the greatness that shaped us, all the blessings around us, and all that still lies ahead of us is the daily national news filled with story after story of a nation tearing itself apart?

Special councils and armies of lawyers chasing rumors looking for a crime. Hundreds of private citizen’s conversations “unmasked” by political appointees for who knows what reason. And a steady flow of leaks to an establishment press corps that goes beyond political embarrassment to undermining the Republic itself.

No leader, no matter how great, could govern in this environment.

Republicans certainly carry some blame, but until today’s Democrat party finds a way to extricate itself from the “ask not what you can do for yourself, but what you can demand from others” mentality and return to JFK’s “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” it’s only going to get worse.

If the left today, and by extension the national Democrat party, doesn’t find a way to reflect more and resist less, than we’re all going to wake up one morning and realize that America is just that:  a reflection.

PUBLISHER NOTE: A version of this column first appeared in the August 6, 2017 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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