We are 240 years removed from the signing of the Declaration of Independence and 235 years removed from the British surrender at Yorktown. It has become abstract to us. It’s ideals are abstract. The causes over which our revolution was fought seem far removed from our everyday lives. It has been simplified by a failing education system as “no taxation without representation.” It’s leaders are pilloried in academia as mercantilist white men in it for themselves. Our children are encouraged to dismiss their vision because slavery remained. We are 240 years and far too many generations removed from our founding to truly appreciate their cause and struggle.
For perspective, we are as close to World War II now as the World War II generation was to the Civil War and the generation that fought the Civil War was as close to the Revolutionary War as we are to World War II. We have grandfathers who stormed Normandy. The men who stormed Normandy had grand fathers who endured the pains of the Civil War. The men of the Civl War had grandfathers whose first memories were of the birth of this nation. The founders of our nation were as close in their lives to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 as we are now to the early days of Germany’s re-emergence as a global threat.
Just as the struggle in World War II is real to us because we are so close in time to it, the struggle of the Revolution was not abstract to our founders who believed themselves heirs to the Glorious Revolution and the English Bill of Rights. Their grandfathers and great grandfathers had fought for the rights of Englishmen and had been given rights such as a right to keep and bear arms and have trials by jury and have no soldier quartered in their homes. The reason we have our Bill of Rights is because the American revolutionaries were fighting for what they thought was their Bill of Rights. When it became clear that the King and Parliament had no intention of giving them those rights, they declared themselves free and independent.
Along the way they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to an idea that is America. We are not a nation because of long held geographic proximity to each other and the evolution of a common tongue. Nor are we a nation because we had one strong man declared king to unite us. We are Americans, all of us, by choice. Perhaps it is not our choice, but the choice of our ancestors who chose to throw off their historic and binding ties to a former nation in order to begin again anew within the great experiment of the American experience.
It is a modern arrogance that presumes we are wiser than the men who founded this country. We may know more, but that does not make us wiser. The founders had a deeper, more real and visceral sense of the nature of man than the modern age does. They were fighting and dying about the nature of man. We are left to ponder that nature academically. We, to our detriment, treat our founding ideals as abstractions that no longer have day to day meaning.
Fast forward 240 years and look at us.
Three quarters of a century ago, within the lifetime of my parents, the nations of this world fought in global war and the victors established a peace, the foundation of which was American strength. The world could be safe because the United States would be strong, serious, and committed to its founding ideals that all men are endowed by their Creator with those unalienable rights.
Now both parties would hand the country over to people unfit to carry on the dreams of our founders. Our founders told us we would have a republic if we could keep it. They prayed that none but moral men would inhabit the White House and they said plainly that our nation could only survive as a good nation so long as our people were moral and good.
The Democrats would hand us over to a woman who while in office saw no conflict of interest or impropriety in having those with business before her office giving donations to her husband’s charity. She lied repeatedly to the American people about her email situation. She jeopardized national security. And she has not only done so without remorse, but she is supported by a party that cheers her on and dares any to say what she did was wrong.
The Republicans would hand us over to a man who has swindled old people and single mothers out of money, rigged a system to ensure he got rich while others lost their shirts in bankruptcy, bragged about his affairs, and dog whistled to racists and white supremacists. He demands the nation’s businesses do their business domestically while he has his shirts and hats made abroad. He cheats those with less than him, coddles those with more than him, and praises the Chinese for crushing the Tiananmen uprising, laments Gorbachev and the Soviets not stopping the USSR from breaking up, and repeatedly defends Saddam Hussein’s ruthless extermination of dissidents. His party cheers him on because he is not Hillary Clinton. In fact, his party gives no reason to support him other than he is not she.
No one in either party is willing to stand up and lead. Our leaders are children. None are willing to declare this madness on the part of both parties and demand a change. Certainly there are those like Ben Sasse who have been vocal in opposition to Donald Trump, but he is not leading. He wants someone else to lead. Mitt Romney wants someone else to lead. Those who should lead are passing the buck to others. They rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.
There is a growing consensus among Republicans that Donald Trump is a disaster as a candidate and not a single Republican in a position to do so will stand up to lead and say the party must rethink this.
Both parties have allegiances now to themselves and not to the country. No right thinking person can look at Hillary Clinton and think her handling of classified information and lies about it to the public qualifies her for the office of the President of the United States. No right thinking person can look at Donald Trump and think this is a man we should put in the White House.
But patriotism has given way to team sport. Both parties declare others patriots by supporting their party, not their country. And no one will stand up and lead. Paul Ryan is left to decry Donald Trump’s racism, but lament that Trump is better than Hillary. Marco Rubio declares Trump better than Hillary, but he won’t go to Cleveland because he has to watch his grass grow. Ted Cruz is plotting for 2020. Scott Walker unendorsed then re-endorsed because “not Hillary.” Not one will stand up and say what they all know to be true.
“The will of the people,” chant the angry horde. 240 years ago a group of 56 men orchestrated a revolution than less than half their fellow colonists truly supported. They did not hide behind the “will of the people.” They did what was right and what history shows was right.
240 years ago those 56 men pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to this great American experiment. And now? Not one damn Republican leader is willing to do what they know is right. These are unserious times and those who purport to be our leaders are unserious. Our allies look on with horror and our enemies with glee.
Our founders warned of demagogues and the Republicans, the party that long prided itself in being the adult party, will surrender to one in two weeks because not one of those who should will stand and lead.
Shame on us all.