Much has been written of late, with implied hand-wringing and dire glances, that we have no presidential candidate worthy of the contest, that we may as well give up, that American politics have become a sham. The whining and squirming, the blame game and character assassination, the robust (to put it kindly) reportage on page and screen, has distorted and darkened this election year.
It is as though a cloud lies over the land. We are discouraged.
And yet, in this time of unprecedented peril at home and abroad, emotions running high may be just the medicine required. For voters don’t read much. Schools watered down history and civics generations ago. Patriotism, citizenship, and freedom are no longer mentioned. I heard that a few schools still say the Pledge of Allegiance, but far more do not, and an uncounted number of schools shame America, slinging mud upon her history of “oppression.” But America is not the oppressor.
In this time of the very real, clear, and present danger of nuclear threat from Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, it is time for Americans to wake up. The United States has become a sleeping giant on the world stage, and when a giant sleeps, others move in and take up residence. We are perceived as uninvolved, desiring illusionary peace at the expense of true peace. Will we wake in time? We have disarmed our military, weakened our intelligence. We have drugged our children with shallow entertainment – movies, Internet, games. We have dumbed down public education, causing a great divide between those who vote and those who rule.
While I do not agree with all of Mr. Trump’s policies, and I will admit he was not my first choice in the primaries, I do see a dire need to shake up Washington D.C. And I believe that this hands-on businessman will assemble the requisite team of experts to advise him in areas he realizes he is not an expert. He understands, whether or not articulated perfectly, the threats to our nation at home and abroad. And he is not afraid to face what must be faced for our country’s survival. I admire his courage and savvy in his remarkable race for the presidential nomination over the last year. He has shown he has the ability to study and master new challenges. He has the drive, energy, and will to protect us. And he loves America, and he loves Americans.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former prime minister of Denmark and a former secretary-general of NATO, wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently that the United States must be the world’s policeman. We are the only nation that has the capacity to deter the forces that threaten democracy, the only nation with the moral fiber to effect this:
“It has become a cliche to talk about the ‘global village.’ But right now, the village is burning, and the neighbors are fighting in the light of the flames. Just as we need a policeman to restore order, we need a firefighter to put out the flames of conflict, and a kind of mayor, smart and sensible, to lead the rebuilding.”
Military historian Victor Davis Hanson writes of the explosive threats throughout the world coupled with a disengaged and tired United States: “War, unlike individual states, does not sleep.” He compares this quiet to the summer quiet before the storms of 1914 and 1939.
George F. Will states that “Modern tyrannies depend on state control of national memories.” In other words, they rewrite history, erasing unfriendly facts. Just so, the study of true history, the past not filtered by political correctness, is necessary for modern democracies to survive. Voters must face what is truly at stake in this time of national forgetting. They must understand so much – and they have not been taught what they need to remember.
And so we consider the candidates and their parties and who is best qualified to engage honestly the problems besetting our nation and our world. For the two – nation and world – are interconnected. If the world goes wrong, we will be part of the resulting firestorm. We will be oppressed by tyranny. Freedom will be something in the far distant past, a word we have erased from our national memory, having refused to teach it to our children. We have refused to face who we are and what we must be as citizens in a free country, a country still governed by a rule of law, a country still striving to honor the dignity of every citizen.
The first presidential debate is tomorrow evening, Monday, September 26, 9-10:30 Eastern. Each of us must see through the media circus and hype. We must judge wisely, adding these words of debate to the tabulated evidence we have accumulated over the last year. We must be our own experts, seeing with unfiltered vision, clear lenses. We must consider the candidates.
Political parties are about policy. Candidates are about character. We vote for the candidate who has the character necessary to truly lead, not from behind, but ahead, with the means and wisdom to study the issues, to assemble a fearless team of experts to advise him, and who is unafraid to confront the realities of rogue states on the march into the power vacuums we have created. We must, above all, vote for honesty and integrity. We must vote for someone to stand up for us against the bullies, whether they be in Washington D.C., Russia, or Iran.
Death is all around us, in nature, in our families and communities. In my own circle of family and friends we have been visited by death way too often over the last few months. Some friends died after living long lives, but others succumbed to illness much too soon. When our sweet black-and-white longhair cat, Lady Jane, died suddenly on Tuesday morning, I held her in my arms and cried. I cried for all of them, I think, all the lives gone, at least from this world. Lady Jane helped me write my novels as well as this blog, sitting on my desk or in my lap (a challenge), purring loudly, finally slipping into a silent happy snooze. Life and death, I thought as I held her, are so very close to one another.
But yesterday I held my great granddaughter, four months old, in my arms. She was warm and soft and smelled of baby, a unique fragrance, a hopeful aroma. Death seemed far away as I looked into her bright inquisitive eyes and felt her legs push, her fragile fingers grab onto mine. Here was life, a child of love, and a child of the future. She would see the next millennium.
The stakes are high for America and her future. The price of freedom is often the willingness to fight for it. Fighting sometimes means dying. But we are a nation of brave warriors and true-lovers. We have fought for liberty before and will again. We will fight for those whom we love, for our families, for our nation, and for the world. We will wake, watch, listen, and we will decide our future.