There once was a time when the United States was known as the “land of the free.” There was a day when the Statue of “Liberty” stood guard on our eastern shores. There once was an hour, not that long ago, when our nation stood resolute in declaring the cause of freedom to be our supreme value, our bonding glue and our greatest cause.
Today, however, as our intelligentsia shamelessly dismisses our constitutional rights while aggregating unto themselves more and more personal power, these seminal principles hang in the balance.
Today, we stand at a precipice — a time of decision.
During this election season, we must decide what kind of people we will be. What kind of nation will we leave our children? What is our highest good? What do we value most? Will we, henceforth, be a free people, or will we be safe?
In the heat of any battle, we often feel as if the fight we face is unprecedented. But it is not.
No, we have been here before.
Consider the words of The Great Communicator of over a half-century ago. Not only were they incredibly prescient for his time, but they were eerily prophetic for ours:
“[Today] … we are at war … If we lose … history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening …
“We have come to a time for choosing. Either we accept the responsibility for our own destiny, or we abandon the American Revolution and confess that [those in] a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
“Already, the hour is late. Government has laid its hand on health, housing, farming, industry, commerce, [and] education … Government tends to grow [and] take on weight and momentum, as public servants say, always with the best of intentions, ‘What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power …’
“We are being asked to buy our safety … by selling into permanent slavery [and giving up our] freedom because we are ready to make a deal with [our] slave masters.
“Alexander Hamilton warned us that a nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master and deserves one. Admittedly there is a risk in any course we follow. Choosing the high road cannot eliminate that risk.
“Already, some of the architects of [our safety] have hinted what their decision will be if their plan fails … [They believe it is better for us] to live on our knees than die on our feet …
“If we are to believe that nothing is worth the dying, when did this begin? Should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery rather than dare the wilderness? Should Christ have refused the Cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have refused to fire the shot heard ‘round the world? Are we to believe that all the martyrs of history died in vain?
“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We can preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we can sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here [and] did all that could be done.” — Ronald Reagan, 1964
Yes, the history of the United States is grounded in the long, and often bloody, fight for freedom. Our highest good has never been the easy life of safety.
We have fought wars for freedom.
The Revolutionary War was a battle for freedom.
The Civil War was a fight for freedom.
We sacrificed the lives of thousands during World War I and World War II for freedom.
None of these conflicts were “safe.”
None of these battles were engaged for the fleeting promises of personal health. All were fought for the eternal principle of human liberty.
It is reported that Dwight Eisenhower once said, “If you want security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking … is freedom.” Or to paraphrase Alexander Hamilton from above, “If you prefer safety for freedom, be prepared for a master because you deserve one.”
On Nov. 3, all of us have a “rendezvous with destiny.” Will we vote for the safety of the former Soviet Union that the Democrats seem to hold in such high regard, or will we vote for the freedom promised by the American Experiment and its Constitution?
May history, and our children, judge that we “justified our brief moment here” and “did all that could be done.”
• Everett Piper, former president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is a columnist for The Washington Times and author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery 2017).