Why Kaepernick’s NFL Protests Fall Short of MLK’s Movement

The New Yorker caused a stir when it portrayed civil rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. kneeling alongside NFL protesters Colin Kaepernick and Michael Bennett on the cover of the most recent edition of its magazine.

The artist, Mark Ulriksen, wrote of the controversial image, “I asked myself, what would King be doing if he were around today?”

“I’m sure that if King were around today, he’d be disappointed at the slow pace of progress: two steps forward, 20 steps back,” Ulrikson continued. “Or 10 yards back, as the metaphor may be.”

It is, of course, difficult to divine what King would have thought about the NFL protests and whether he would have seen them as a valuable contribution to his aims.

King’s daughter, Bernice King, supports the protests, and said, “People didn’t approve of the way my father protested injustice either—said he was causing trouble, called him an ‘outside agitator.’”

But King’s niece, Alveda King, who had generally disapproved of the protests, said of the New Yorker cover on Fox News: “My Uncle MLK and father A.D. King were men of God who often ‘took the knee’ in prayer to God for repentance and reconciliation during their Christian ministry. Prayer is stronger even than protest.”

“We do have to have respect for our flag, for our anthem, and we really have to care about each other. Now the things that they want to protest for, I agree,” she continued.

While it may be difficult to assess what King really would have thought about this modern protest, it is worth noting that there have nevertheless been critical differences between his movement and the one Kaepernick launched.

>>> Disrespect for National Anthem Damages NFL as Unifying American Passion

Certainly, many have found the specific protest against the flag to be insulting and off-putting, a bad attempt to place a wedge between Americans over a universal value of loving one’s country despite policy or personal differences.

The Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway wrote of how the kneeling demonstration has been particularly galling to many who simply see it as an act of disrespect to the United States and how the NFL protests have failed to match the civil rights movement.

Hemingway wrote in The Federalist:

People unavoidably see [kneeling for the national anthem] as disrespectful. Drawing attention to yourself and your cause at the one time we come together to collectively express our patriotism and shared American values is going to be unavoidably be seen as unpatriotic. That actively repels people instead of appealing to commonly held political values.

King’s success came from shining the spotlight on injustice, yet also celebrating and espousing the United States’ deepest values expressed in our founding documents.

This is not to say that King didn’t have misjudgments or make mistakes, but his movement was created with clear goals, and with the inevitable end game of inclusion rather than division.

While certainly controversial in his own day, King aimed his demonstrations at bringing about the end goal of reconciling the races—a fulfillment of the original promise of our nation’s founding, which placed our republic upon the rock of natural human equality: the concept that all are created equal in the eyes of God.

As Professor Peter C. Myers wrote for The Heritage Foundation:

King extolled the promise that inhered in Lincoln’s momentous Proclamation and prior to that in “the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.” He confronted the nation with its failure to honor its promise of equal liberty for all, even as he implored his fellow protesters and all of his fellow citizens to understand that their destinies as Americans were indissolubly bound together.

In cases where King clashed with police, he accepted the penalty of unjust laws while decrying their aims, thereby respecting the ultimate rule of law and bringing attention to his cause at the same time.

It was an important step in changing American hearts and minds that ultimately led to the expansion of basic rights and protections to include groups that had traditionally been deprived of them.

In this, Kaepernick’s protest missed the mark.

Unfortunately, Kaepernick hasn’t just attacked American policing policies, he insulted law enforcement by wearing socks portraying police as pigs. He also wore a shirt with pictures of Malcolm X and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro at a press conference.

The Castro regime, under which racism is rampant, operates a virtual police state that violently represses its citizens. Protests are cracked down on ruthlessly and dissent isn’t tolerated.

Malcolm X was, of course, a very different civil rights leader than MLK. He criticized non-violent protests as an ineffective tool and rejected the idea that unity and racial reconciliation were possible or desirable.

Some of King’s best ideas, over time, have become mainstream. While his legacy is often fiercely debated between the political left and the right, his appeal has become nearly universal.

Many on the left complain that King’s more egalitarian economic views are rejected on the right, while it’s fair to say that the “colorblind” views of his famed “I Have a Dream” speech might be considered offensive and triggering on a modern college campus, where the idea of racial colorblindness is problematic.

Nevertheless, King’s movement created a positive, lasting legacy for the United States as a whole.

Kaepernick’s movement, by contrast, has done little more than alienate football fans in droves and add to the perception that America is more divided than ever.

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Martin Luther King on the Limits of Civil Disobedience

More than most years, 2018 will be a year filled with remembrances of Martin Luther King, Jr., because in it falls the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination.

It will also be a year filled with remembrances of 1968 itself as the culminating year of the 1960s, a year in which the country seemed divided even to the breaking point.

In many such remembrances those two facts will be conjoined, and amid our present climate of political division and radicalized opposition, there will be much admiring discussion of King and the radicalism of that era, along with much lamentation that King’s late-1960s vision of an America thoroughly revolutionized in its core values passed, at least for a time, from the scene with him.

Unfortunately absent from this discussion will be any significant appreciation of King’s moderation—a virtue that he himself, in the more sober expressions of his thinking, regarded as indispensable to his and his movement’s success.

In fact, the single best representation of King’s mind during the most successful portion of his career, the famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” is in large measure a reflection on the virtue of moderation and a justification of King’s claim to it.

King felt compelled to justify his claim to moderation, because it was on precisely this ground that eight of his fellow clergymen had challenged him, in a public letter to King that appeared in Birmingham’s major newspaper.

These eight clergymen, all white, made their own claim to moderation. It was plausible enough, as they were all opponents of racial segregation and had written a public letter a few months earlier in which they called for Alabama Gov. George Wallace to abide by the Supreme Court’s anti-segregation rulings.

In their letter to King, they expressed a concern over his methods of street demonstration and civil disobedience, which they characterized as “extreme measures” likely to incite violence and sharpen divisions.

>>> Read Peter Meyers’ essay, “The Limits and Dangers of Civil Disobedience: The Case of Martin Luther King, Jr.

King began his response by noting that he seldom replied to critical letters due to the huge volume that he received. The letter from these eight clergymen was a special case, he wrote, because its authors were “men of good will”—men of faith, anti-segregationists, and moderates whose challenge to his own moderation he took very seriously.

In his response, King did not altogether reject the imputation of extremism.“Was not Jesus an extremist for love?” he asked, and were not the prophet Amos, and our own Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, extremists for justice?

Nonetheless, he indicated that the charge stung him, and he defended his own extremism by explaining how it was consistent with and governed by the virtue of moderation, rightly understood.

In his book, “Stride Toward Freedom” (1958), King recalled how he had framed his task, as he prepared his initial speech to participants in the Montgomery bus boycott. “How could I make a speech that would be militant enough to keep my people aroused to positive action and yet moderate enough to keep this fervor within controllable and Christian bounds?”

Moderation can in some circumstances require militancy, but militancy can and must be moderate. The same idea informed King’s argument in the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

Within the eight clergymen’s frame of reference, the moderate position was to support gradual desegregation—in contrast to both Wallace’s extreme “segregation forever!” position and the protesters’ demand for immediate desegregation.

Within King’s frame of reference, however, the moderate position was to conduct nonviolent, direct-action protests against segregation. This approach contrasted with what King called the “two opposing forces in the Negro community”: the extremes of demoralized complacency and of the “bitterness and hatred” propagated by those advocating violence and separatism.

King believed his own frame of reference was the proper one, because he held the gradual approach, judged in historical context, was in fact not a moderate position: “We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights.”

King’s commitment to moderation in the “Letter” is actually broader and deeper than this rejection of gradualism. Two general points are of primary importance.

First, King’s militancy was moderate in that it incorporated a respect for tradition. He justified his activism by appealing to principles grounded in venerable Western and American traditions of natural law and natural rights philosophy.

Second, he defended his direct-action methods—including the practice of civil disobedience—as consistent with and even, in the proper circumstances, required by the rule of law. In King’s explanation, an  appeal to higher-law principles of justice must not reflect a disdain for man-made law, but to the contrary, must preserve and exemplify “the highest respect for law.”

The “right to protest for right,” King maintained, is both a natural human right and a precious American inheritance. The spirit of righteous resistance is among the virtues of the American character—yet like other such qualities, it loses its virtuous character when it is carried into extremism.

Those in our own day who feel themselves moved by this spirit would do well to learn this lesson from King’s “Letter”: Resistance loses its righteousness when it ceases to be governed by the virtues of moderation and prudence.

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Podcast: What the 25th Amendment Is Actually For (Hint: It’s Not For Ditching Presidents Who Tweet a Lot)

Jarrett Stepman joins us on today’s podcast to talk about the history and original purpose of the 25th amendment, and the long history in the United States of fake news — and what the Founders thought about it. Plus: we talk about how a new sugar tax in Seattle has people fuming at Costco and  a beautiful moment where hundreds of men showed up to be “dads” for kids who needed one.

The post Podcast: What the 25th Amendment Is Actually For (Hint: It’s Not For Ditching Presidents Who Tweet a Lot) appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Q&A: Black Activist Says Trump Policies, Unlike Obama’s, Create Jobs for Black America

Project 21’s Horace Cooper joined The Daily Signal’s Genevieve Wood to discuss the historic low unemployment rate for black Americans and how the left is co-opting Martin Luther King Jr. Day to protest tax reform and promote action for illegal immigrants covered by the DACA program. Here is an edited transcript of the video.

Wood: Horace, Martin Luther King Day is coming up next week, and there has been a lot of interesting news, especially for the black community on the economic front, in this past week or so. What do you make of the numbers coming out?

Cooper: The news for black America is amazing. It’s phenomenal. We have had three separate records accomplished: In June of 2017, in September of 2017, and in January of 2018, we have set record low unemployment for black Americans. And what’s really exciting, relative to the rest of the country, is black Americans are making much more progress …  and that’s, like, really big gains.  

Wood: You probably just heard that overflight. We’re very close to the Pentagon right now and Reagan Airport, so you’re going to hear a lot of airplanes. Horace, we talk about historic numbers. This is the lowest black unemployment has been in over 45 years. Why all of a sudden? Is it President Obama’s economy, which is kind of what he claimed in the last few weeks?

Cooper: It was surprising to me to hear the president make these claims.

Wood: The former president.

Cooper: The former [president], Obama, make these claims. It was very surprising because from 2009 to 2015, black America’s unemployment rate turned to the worst numbers that we have seen as a community. It was the very policies that he pushed that caused this disparity.

Here’s the thing: Black American unemployment typically is somewhere between 40 percent and even 100 percent higher than white America’s unemployment. When this [black unemployment rate] number in 2018 reached 6.8 percent, that was the narrowest gap we’ve ever seen. We saw nothing like that during the Obama administration.

And it didn’t surprise me, because the policies of President Obama were more focused on handing out food stamps, and assistance, and government handouts, rather than seeing to it that the most important civil rights of all, your right to be independent, your right to be self-sufficient, [were] being honored with policies of limited government. That’s not Obama’s plan.

Wood: Now, President Trump has been in office only one year. What do you think explains the nosedive in unemployment across the board, but particularly with minority Americans?

Cooper: Any investor, any businessman, any company understands now that America is open for business and if you’d like to do business in the United States, we’re going to say, ‘That’s great.’ Remember what the last president said?  ‘You didn’t build that.’ The last president said people that did things, that built things that were consequential, they were the people that we have to go after, to [put in a] stranglehold, a litany of regulations. And by the way, The Heritage Foundation did seminal studies every year, talking about how the last president set records for how many regulatory strangleholds he put on the United States.  

This president, President Trump, is doing just the opposite. Two things: One is, he is not bringing new regulations into place, but [two,] he is actually rolling back the bad regulations that we saw before. So businesses are opening up and it turns out the pool of  people that are most available right now, because of multiple years of bad regulatory and economic growth, are black Americans. And those people therefore are rushing into the marketplace. This is great news.

Wood: It’s great news. But as you well know, Horace, as we come up to MLK Day you are going to have a lot of folks out there talking about how the Trump administration, the tax reform package that was passed just before Christmas, is bad particularly for black Americans. We know this because they have already said they were going to do it.

[House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi and a lot of others are going to be holding events over the weekend in “honor” of Martin Luther King Jr., kind of hijacking the holiday, I would argue. To go tell black Americans why this is actually a bad economy for them, the complete opposite of all the numbers and evidence.

Cooper: Here’s the irony, what the left wants to tell black America is, ‘Who are you going to believe, them or your lying eyes?’ If you want to look at your bank account, if you want to look at the value of your home, if you want to make that the test, then you’ll look and you’ll say, ‘Wow, the news is amazing. My uncle, my cousin, even my next-door neighbor, they’re getting jobs that they didn’t have.’

A record 2 million fewer people are receiving food assistance under the Trump administration than before. But it is also not a surprise to me. Here’s the thing: When you look at Martin Luther King, most people remember the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. What they don’t recall is that the main reason for the big rally at the Lincoln Memorial [in August 1963] was a jobs program.

Black Americans were worried and concerned that there weren’t a lot of great economic opportunities. And that’s how this [March on Washington in 1963] got organized. The essence of what black America and the civil rights effort was about was letting people be able to get the kinds of things that control their own lives.

Wood: The right to a quality education, the right to good jobs.

Cooper: Absolutely. Right. A great house.

Wood: Not the right to handouts, wanting handouts.

Cooper: Absolutely. But the left, with these teach-ins as you mentioned, it’s cynical what they are doing. They don’t have a program for black America. Black America rejected—people don’t realize this—black America rejected Barack Obama’s program. How do I know this? [In 2008], the highest percentage of black Americans in history voted for the Democrat [Obama]. 

In 2012, we saw something happen that we have never seen before. Fewer black people voted for the re-election of a president. We haven’t seen that in 120 years. Not with Clinton, not with Nixon, not with Reagan. Every other re-elected president got more black votes than they did the first time around.

Wood: And why do you think that is? Do you think people really made the calculation within the black community, he hasn’t done what he said he was going to do?

Cooper: They absolutely could see that. You can’t show up the day before Election Day and have to wait for a handout, and then on the day after go and say I’m going to vote for this guy because he is making me great. But the Democrats and the left have been very good, and that’s what this teach-in is about.

Wood: Well, you make a point. And I want to talk more about Project 21 because I’m sure a lot of folks watching are going to say, ‘Wow, the news media doesn’t usually go out and find people like Horace Cooper to talk about Martin Luther King Day.’ 

They want to know where there are more Horace Coopers. And Project 21 is one of those organizations. The release that you all put out talked about, in addition to the teach-in, that while all of that is going on, the liberals are also pushing the Dream Act and trying to legalize a lot of illegal immigrants.  

Cooper: Oh, it’s a classic bait and switch, a beautiful bait and switch. When you don’t have a good program for people—by program, I mean a policy initiative that would be good for them—what you do is you find something to distract them.

What’s ironic is they’re not going to succeed in telling people, in this teach-in that they announced, that ‘You shouldn’t want the tax cuts you are about to get,  you shouldn’t want more money in your bank account, you shouldn’t want more flexibility in the kinds of jobs.  And that’s what’s coming your way. You don’t want that, that’s bad, we want to make you understand that the Trump regulatory tax policies are bad for you.’

Meanwhile, what they don’t say is ‘By the way, we do have a program, not for you, [but] we have a program. It is primarily focused on illegal immigrants. And in fact, even as late as today, the talk is we’ll shut the government down if we don’t get the ability to get the illegal immigration support policy changes that we want. Hey, black America, look at the teach-ins, that’s what we’ve got for you; but for our new favored class, we’ve got real policy changes that are designed to improve and make their livelihoods better.’  

Wood: And in many cases, though, trying to get [illegal immigrants] into the same government programs that got [black Americans] trapped into big government.

Cooper: Well, of course, that’s the ultimate goal.

Wood: Because those folks will often times also turn into voters once they get locked into government. And they become the party of big government.

Cooper: It’s a vicious cycle.

Wood: You’re right, it’s a bait and switch. Let’s talk about Project 21. Tell everybody what Project 21 is, how they can get involved, and how they can learn more about it.  

Cooper: Project 21 is an organization made up of black Americans who have rejected the idea that the only way for black Americans to succeed is if the government specifically engages in a series of handouts or preferential treatment. We are people, moderate and conservative, who say that the best way for black Americans to succeed is the same way it is for [all] Americans to succeed: Strong families, hard work.  Get a good education, engage in the kind of policies where you personally save your money, you’re not extravagant. Where you make the sacrifice and you hand your children.

We believe in limited government, we believe in family values. We believe the church and the synagoge are the primary place where good values get inculcated. Our organization welcomes any American that believes in those kinds of things and wants to make sure that those are the values that we put forward. That got America started, that got America to succeed, that’s the future for America.

Wood: And that’s a lot of things that Martin Luther King Jr. absolutely stood for.

Cooper: Absolutely.

Wood: Horace, thank you.  I’ve known this guy for over 20 years, he is rock-solid. It’s great being on with you. Thanks for coming on and being out here and talking with us.

Cooper: Thanks for having me on The Signal.

Wood: And thank you everybody. Check out Project 21. And thank you for watching us right here on The Daily Signal’s Facebook Live.

The post Q&A: Black Activist Says Trump Policies, Unlike Obama’s, Create Jobs for Black America appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Here’s the History of the 25th Amendment

After failing to gather any real momentum to impeach President Donald Trump, some Democrats are now floating the idea of using the 25th Amendment to oust him.

This little-known constitutional amendment serves as an escape-hatch measure for removing the president if he is incapacitated. It is quite different from impeachment.

Impeachment is the method that the Founders set up to prosecute cases of presidential criminality. It requires members of Congress to bring specific charges of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

But absent these charges, some of Trump’s detractors are now embracing other methods to overthrow him.

>>> The Right Side of History: Here’s What You Need to Know About the Impeachment Debate

Anti-Trump commentators and the few Democrats now suggesting use of the 25th Amendment have suggested that the president is mentally unstable.

“The judgment [about the president’s mental state] is not mine to make,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said to reporters after proposing a commission to examine Trump’s mental health, according to Politico.

“The judgment constitutionally is to be made by the vice president and the Cabinet, or the vice president and a new body. We have an institutional responsibility to set that body up.”

Pulling out the 25th Amendment is the logical next step for those who have been looking for a way to depose Trump since he entered office, though it’s a serious departure from the intent of those who passed the amendment.

Democrats have trotted out psychologists on Capitol Hill to prove that Trump is unstable and should be removed from office.

This alone seriously flirts with violating the “Goldwater Rule,” which prevents psychologists from offering a “professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.”

The American Psychiatric Association created this rule after Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater successfully sued a magazine that had published a survey of psychologists deeming him unfit for office.

The survey was misleading, clearly partisan, and damaged the reputation of psychologists as a profession. Moreover, the idea of removing a president based on the whims of an elite group of supposedly neutral neutral psychologists is an affront to democracy.

This is not to say the 25th Amendment doesn’t serve a valuable purpose. If a president suffers a disability that would make him unable to perform his duties, this tool is an emergency stopgap to solve the problem.

It was never conceived of as a partisan tool to depose a hated president.

‘We Stumbled Along’

Perhaps been the most obvious case where the 25th Amendment was needed occurred a generation before it was actually passed.

On Sept. 25, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a collapse and a massive stroke while campaigning in Colorado for the U.S. to enter the League of Nations.

The League of Nations, a precursor to the United Nations, had been Wilson’s pet project, and despite warnings from doctors he had pushed himself to the limit on its behalf.

After the stroke, Wilson went blind in one eye, was paralyzed on the left side, and lay unconscious. While he eventually awoke from the coma, he was never the same. For the most part, he was a barely-functioning invalid.

Incredibly, Wilson’s wife practically ran the White House for the two remaining years of his term, only leaving the most serious acts of policy and politics to her husband, which by that point he was barely able to perform.

“This is the worst instance of presidential disability we’ve ever had,” said historian John Milton Cooper. “We stumbled along [for eighteen months] … without a fully functioning president.”

Few around the country even knew that the West Wing was in such bad shape, as both the press corps and the White House carefully kept the truth of the president’s condition from coming out.

Wilson even considered running for what would then be an unprecedented third term, but Democratic Party leaders carefully selected a compromise candidate who would run instead.

While Wilson’s Cabinet and the Washington political establishment were wary about forcing the president out of office, many fretted about what could be done if a president couldn’t perform his duties in an emergency.

The debate went more or less dormant for half a century until the assassination of a president forced the nation to seriously reconsider legal ways of replacing—either temporarily or permanently—a president for health-related reasons.

A Re-Evaluation

While health scares for President Dwight Eisenhower led to some informal agreements about transmitting the duties of the president in a time of crisis, nothing was enacted until the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The line of succession had been laid out by the Presidential Succession Act, but some began a push to clearly define these ambiguous rules in the Constitution while also addressing what could be done if the president was alive but experiencing a sudden health crisis.

The idea of being without a functioning president, particularly in the rapid-response world of instant communication and the Cold War, concerned Americans in a way that it hadn’t in earlier times.

“In an age of nuclear weaponry—and now, global terrorism—America can ill afford to be leaderless for long, or to have unclear rules about who is in charge,” wrote constitutional scholars Akhil Reed Amar and Vikram David Amar.

“The 25th Amendment, proposed and ratified after JFK’s assassination, fills many of the gaps left open by the Founders.

>>> Read the Heritage Guide to the Constitution’s Explanation of the 25th Amendment

The 25th Amendment, enacted in 1967, set up a clear line of succession in case the president or vice president died, and included the section that some anti-Trumpers are now looking to: the method for removing, or putting a pause on, the official powers of a debilitated president.

The crucial Section 4 states:

Whenever the vice president and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as acting president.

Congress then has 21 days to determine if the president is able to continue performing his duties and can remove him from office with a two-thirds vote in both houses.

Since its passage, the 25th Amendment has been used several times, but never for the purpose of removing the president from office.

Some have alleged that officials wanted to remove President Ronald Reagan from office using the 25th Amendment after his attempted assassination—but those allegations have been debunked.

The amendment has only been used to temporarily transfer power from presidents to vice presidents during medical operations that would leave them incapable of responding to an urgent crisis.

Reagan himself did invoke Section 3 of the amendment on himself during a routine medical procedure in 1985, in which Vice President George H.W. Bush assumed the powers of the presidency for several hours.

And President George W. Bush also used the law to transfer power to Vice President Dick Cheney during a couple of operations, again for only a few hours.

Dangerous Precedent

While some are now itching to use Section 4 of the 25th Amendment on Trump, many have urged caution or outright blasted the move as nothing but naked partisanship.

The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway suggested that this overheated effort to boot the president with the 25th Amendment is akin to a “coup.”

“Talk of mental health and a 25th Amendment removal, ‘by force if necessary,’ is talk of a coup,” Hemingway wrote. “Responsible parties should consider how this is perceived by the part of the electorate they rarely speak to and cease.

Harvard Law School professor emeritus and lifelong Democrat, Alan Dershowitz, also denounced the movement as “dangerous” and a “fool’s errand.”

“Now that they couldn’t criminalize political differences, they’re trying to psychiatrize political differences,” Dershowitz said on Fox News.

Right now, this push is little more than creative fanfiction, since impeachment would require a majority vote in the House and a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove the president, while the 25th Amendment would require a two-thirds vote in both houses.

Yet this won’t stop left-wing activists from trying to wield this amendment as a weapon against the Trump presidency.

At least they’re arguing from the Constitution. If only they cared for its intent.

The post Here’s the History of the 25th Amendment appeared first on The Daily Signal.

What I Learned From The Heritage Foundation’s New Leader

The Heritage Foundation announced with some fanfare Dec. 19 that with the new year Kay Coles James would become president of the leading policy research organization, which turns 45 in 2018.

For some of those outside the Beltway and on behalf of one of the fastest-growing voting populations, millennials, permit me to pose the questions: Who is Kay Coles James, and why should we care?

In 2003, I attended the funeral of E.V. Hill, the great Baptist pastor, while I was a student at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. I remember sitting in the audience at West Angeles Church of God in Christ when it was announced that the White House had sent a representative on behalf of President George W. Bush. Much to my surprise, Kay Coles James, then director of the U. S. Office of Personnel Management, stepped to the pulpit.

I was awestruck because this lady was someone I greatly respected and admired as a young conservative. Little did I know that I would end up working in the same administration, much less have the honor of Kay’s taking me under her wing as one of the many young African-American conservatives she has mentored along the way.

When Kay founded The Gloucester Institute and restored Holly Knoll, that beautiful house off Virginia’s York River that once belonged to celebrated educator Robert Russa Moton, I visited her home for one of the earliest meetings of what she called the First Saturday Group.

Dozens gathered at Kay’s invitation to foster dialogue about the future of conservative thought in the black community. I distinctly remember her giving everyone a chance to speak on political matters without judgment or ridicule. She created a safe place for us.

As Kay developed programming for her organization, it became clear to me that her intent was to bring back the best of the days of true diversity—diversity of thought, background, life experience, and even race. She would state her mission: “The Gloucester Institute provides an intellectually safe environment where ideas can be discussed and transformed into practical solutions that produce results, and a site to train and nurture emerging leaders.”

Kay at her core is a solutionist, one who believes conservative principles can uplift not tear down, encourage not stifle, and create opportunities not pacify the status quo. She does more than talk about the issues of the day; she wants to find solutions to the problems, and turns to millennials to make them a part of the conversation.

She once told me at dinner: “Paris, I am doing all this for you, for your generation, for the next generation of leaders in our movement. It is not about me.”

The author embraces Kay Coles James after speaking at a Dec. 18 event in her honor. (Photo courtesy Paris Dennard)

The nation and the world need Kay’s voice at this time, in this position, using the prestigious platform at The Heritage Foundation. We need her leadership to fight for and promote the timeless American principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

Kay is uniquely qualified not only because she knows Heritage, having been on its Board of Trustees since 2005. She also has an impressive resume at least 2 miles long, has advised every modern Republican president, and has even been on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” But those things are not as important as the fact that she is a strong woman of faith and a loving mother and grandmother.

Her best quality is that she listens, and seeks understanding. She brings people together, and is honest and unwavering in support of the black community. She has made significant investments in the lives of young college students across this country through her work at Gloucester.

At a time when free speech by conservatives on college campuses is under attack, Kay Coles James has visited campuses to challenge failed liberal ideas and eloquently articulate the heart of a committed conservative.

On several occasions, Kay asked me to be a judge during her “Great Debaters” programs. Students would research a topic then have to debate it on the spot from either the affirmative or negative perspective. The pride she took in seeing healthy intellectual rigor exercised through this competition was inspiring. She challenged these students to dig deeper, anticipate the hard questions, and test their own arguments.

Kay, who as a child lived in public housing in Richmond, Va., has challenged the conventional assertions of what it means to be liberal and conservative. She has proved that conservative principles can work for everyone. With faith, opportunity, and hard work, you can sit on corporate boards, serve governors and presidents, and then lead the foremost conservative public policy organization in the world.

In the new year, she will guide a leading think tank’s independent policy research, and her influence and ability to speak truth to power will be of tremendous value to Congress and the Trump administration.

President-elect Donald Trump trusted Kay so much that he asked her to serve as a key figure on his transition team. State governors know her. Leaders on both sides of the aisle, at all levels of government, know her. Thousands of college students, especially at historically black colleges and universities, know her.

For many years, Kay would have students in her Emerging Leaders program participate in personal and professional development training. She was focused on the whole individual, inside and out. All these people, like myself, have come not only to know her but to trust her.

And now many more will come to know and trust Kay’s wisdom through her new work and leadership at The Heritage Foundation.

I have no doubt that Kay will help raise a new generation of conservative, solution-based, independent thinkers. They, like others before them, will come to respect the fact that she, first, listens and, second, acts to make things better—not just for the black community and for millennials, but for the entire nation that she selflessly has devoted her life to improving.

Kay Coles James is nothing less than an unapologetic force for good, and Heritage is blessed to have her as president.

The post What I Learned From The Heritage Foundation’s New Leader appeared first on The Daily Signal.

The History of Fake News in the United States

Fake news isn’t suddenly ruining America, but putting government in charge of deciding what news is fake will.

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 election, numerous media outlets ran stories claiming that many websites had published false stories that helped Trump beat Hillary Clinton.

Since then Left-leaning opinion writers have called for a solution to this alleged epidemic. The New York Times reported last January that Silicon Valley giants Facebook and Google will team up with legacy media outlets to fact-check stories and curtail the proliferation of “fake news.”

However, intentionally misleading news has been around since before the invention of the printing press. In fact, our Founding Fathers grappled with this very issue when they created our system of government. They saw that while it was tempting to censor fake stories, ultimately the truth was more likely to be abused by an all-powerful government arbiter than the filter of unimpeded popular debate. Attempts to weed out factually incorrect news reports can quickly morph into fact-checking and manipulating differences in opinion.

Fortunately, there have been few serious calls in the United States for official censoring of political news or media, in contrast to most of the world, including Europe. Freedom of thought, freedom of the press, and even the freedom to be wrong make America great and exceptional. In addition to preserving liberty, our free-wheeling tradition gives the United States an edge in adapting to the increasingly decentralized media landscape that is a natural product of the Internet Age. Most importantly, it produces a more critically informed populace in the long term.

The Founders and the Free Press

The Founding Fathers were well aware of the power of the press, for good or ill. After all, many of them, such as Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine, were newspapermen and pamphleteers. The revolutionary ideas they disseminated throughout the colonies found eager readers, putting them high on King George III’s enemies list.

Three years after the Constitution was ratified, the American people amended it by adding the Bill of Rights, which included the First Amendment and its protections of the media. However, the Founders understood that a free press was not an entirely unqualified blessing; some had reservations.

Elbridge Gerry, who was present at the Constitutional Convention, lamented how con artists in his home state were manipulating the people. “The people do not [lack] virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots,” Gerry said at the convention. “In Massachusetts it had been fully confirmed by experience, that they are daily misled into the most baneful measures and opinions, by the false reports circulated by designing men, and which no one on the spot can refute.”

The Founders saw that while it was tempting to censor fake stories, ultimately the truth was more likely to be abused by an all-powerful government arbiter than the filter of unimpeded popular debate.

Benjamin Franklin also warned about the power of the press, which the public must put so much trust in. In a short essay, Franklin explained how the press acted as the “court” of public opinion and wielded enormous unofficial power.

For an institution with so much influence, Franklin noted that the bar for entry into journalism is remarkably low, with no requirement regarding “Ability, Integrity, Knowledge.” He said the liberty of the press can easily turn into the “liberty of affronting, calumniating, and defaming one another.”

The Founders wrote constitutional protections for the press with open eyes, as their written remarks record. Yet, the evils that come through the occasional problems of a free press are heavily outweighed by its benefits. Lies may proliferate, but the truth has a real chance to rise to the top.

Thomas Jefferson said that the most effectual way for a people to be governed by “reason and truth” is to give freedom to the press. There was simply no other way. He wrote in a letter to Gerry:

I am […] for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.

Liars and scandal mongers may occasionally have success in a system without censorship, but truth was ultimately more likely to be found when passed through the people as a whole. Jefferson wrote:

It is so difficult to draw a clear line of separation between the abuse and the wholesome use of the press, that as yet we have found it better to trust the public judgment, rather than the magistrate, with the discrimination between truth and falsehood. And hitherto the public judgment has performed that office with wonderful correctness.

Despite full knowledge of the media’s often unscrupulous power over public opinion, the Founders chose to grant broad protections to a decentralized press, opting to place their faith in newspapers checking one another with more efficacy and less risk of bias than heavy-handed government crackdowns.

When the Federalist Party passed the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts under President John Adams to clamp down on “false, scandalous and malicious writing” against the government in the midst of the “Quasi War” with France, there was an immense backlash. A few journalists were arrested, but the governing party was crushed in future elections and ceased to exist shortly thereafter. In the United States, press freedom would become an almost unquestioned element of American culture and policy.

Things worked out differently across the Atlantic. In France, a popular uprising, stoked by a rabid press, led to mob violence, tyranny, and oppressive censorship. Revolutionary scribblers initially brought an end to the Old Regime and the royal restrictions on speech, but freedom of the press didn’t last. After the monarchy was crushed, the revolutionaries censored the press even more ruthlessly than had the Bourbon kings. The radicals argued that press freedom was leading people astray and impeding their revolution.

Maximilien Robespierre, leader of the Jacobin party, called journalists “the most dangerous enemies of liberty.” Robespierre and his allies in the French government created a state-sponsored newspaper to counter what they saw as the media’s lies. Then, seeing that even that was not enough to prevent alternative opinions from growing, began to arrest and execute those who opposed the policies of the government. Robespierre’s “Reign of Terror” gripped France for more than a year, during which 16,594 official death sentences were handed out.

In the mid-20th century, the American press became more centralized and the country opened its media sector to many of the same problems that had plagued European media.

Calls for liberty ended with censorship and ultimately the guillotine for unbelievers. Clearly there was a difference between the American and French regimes and cultures, both nominally standing for liberty, but arriving at radically different ends.

A Frenchman who was a keen observer of both systems explained why freedom of the press worked out so differently in these sister republics.

Tocqueville, the United States, and France

Alexis de Tocqueville caught on to why liberty of the press worked so much better in the United States than in his home country. One system was almost entirely free from suggestions of government censorship and the other perpetually in danger of falling prey to the “instincts of the pettiest despots.”

Americans understood, wrote Tocqueville in his book “Democracy in America”, that creating a government body with the power to assess the truth in media would be far more dangerous than any system of press freedom. They instinctively knew that:

Whoever should be able to create and maintain a tribunal of this kind would waste his time in prosecuting the liberty of the press; for he would be the absolute master of the whole community and would be as free to rid himself of the authors as of their writings.

In other words, the creation of such an official “court” to oversee media truth would logically end in absolute tyranny. Tocqueville concluded that “in order to enjoy the inestimable benefits that the liberty of the press ensures, it is necessary to submit to the inevitable evils that it creates.”

Fortunately, America had a diverse and highly decentralized press from the beginning. Not so in France, which had a highly centralized press both in terms of geography and number of media organizations. Therefore, Tocqueville wrote, in a centralized media environment such as France, “[t]he influence upon a skeptical nation of a public press thus constituted must be almost unbounded. It is an enemy with whom a government may sign an occasional truce, but which it is difficult to resist for any length of time.”

France never really changed. It continued a cycle of crackdowns on the free press as new regimes took power. Instead of decentralizing the press of the monarchical regime, each successive set of revolutionaries seized the central apparatus for their own purposes. In 1852, when the Second Empire under Napoleon III took power, the government said
that censorship would be implemented for public safety.

A petition message to the legislative body concluded: “As long as there exists in France parties hostile to the Empire, liberty of the press is out of the question, and the country at large has no wish for it.”

Though President Trump has caused concern by calling members of the press “enemies of the people,” his threats against the press come through mockery and rebuke rather than official sanctions. Presidential media hating has been around since George Washington was in office, but there have been few serious proposals to actually crack down on reporting.

By contrast, the press is treated quite differently in France, where citizens are placed on a 44-hour legal media blackout on the eve of elections. As USA Today reported, in the days leading up to the French presidential election, the media were warned not to report on data leaks from candidate Emmanuel Macron’s campaign. The French election commission said that the leaks likely contained some fraudulent data, i.e. “fake news,” and any reporting on it or even passing it along on social media could lead to criminal charges.

Jim Swift of The Weekly Standard pointed out the obvious: “This is censorship, plain and simple. In the Internet Age, reporters and citizens around the globe can share information—be it about the Macron hack or not—on Twitter, Facebook, or on their websites. The French press and citizenry? Repressed.”

But The New York Times praised the reporting ban, and emphasized the benefits of the centralized French system over the more freewheeling ones in Britain and the United States. In a recent article, The Times noted:

The contrast may have been amplified further by the absence of a French equivalent to the thriving tabloid culture in Britain or the robust right-wing broadcast media in the United States, where the Clinton hacking attack generated enormous negative coverage.

“We don’t have a Fox News in France,” said Johan Hufnagel, managing editor of the Left-wing daily Libération, according to The New York Times. “There’s no broadcaster with a wide audience and personalities who build this up and try to use it for their own agendas.”

A similar scandal occurred in the United States when Wikileaks published thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee that cast the Clinton campaign in a negative light. Yet, there was no censorship of the information; the American people would not have stood for it.

Who has the better system? Since the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, France has gone through five republics, two empires, and four monarchies. Despite the bumptious nature of American politics and media, it would be foolish to bet on France’s fifth republic outlasting America’s first.

Americans have been lucky to have a decentralized media through most of their history and a culture that strongly embraces the idea of a truly free press. Those arrangements have had a long-lasting impact on American institutions and have made the country resistant to authoritarian impulses. However, in the mid-20th century, the American press became more centralized and the country opened its media sector to many of the same problems that had plagued European media.

Some glamorize the era in which a few television companies and big newspapers became media gatekeepers, similar to the model that currently exists in France. This nostalgia for “more responsible” journalism ignores the fact that some of the most egregious fake news blunders were perpetrated by an unchecked centralized press. Perhaps the worst offense of all came from The New York Times.

The New York Times and the Fraud of the Century

Today, a 30-foot-long bronze wall stands in Northwest Washington, D.C., and on this wall is the simple image of a wheat field. It is a monument to the victims of The Holodomor, a monstrous genocide committed by one of the most ruthless and authoritarian regimes in human history.

In 1932, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, frustrated that he could not crush Ukrainian nationalism, ordered that grain quotas for Ukrainian fields be raised so high that the peasants working the fields would not be left with enough food to feed themselves. NKVD troops collected the grain and watched over the populace to prevent them from leaving to find nourishment elsewhere.

As a result of these policies, as many as 7 million Ukrainians died of starvation in 1932 and 1933.

But while Stalin was conducting an atrocity with few equals in human history, The New York Times was reporting on the regime’s triumphs of modernization.

Walter Duranty, the Times Moscow bureau chief, won the 1932 Pulitzer Prize for Correspondence for his 1931 series of articles on the Soviet Union. Pulitzer in hand, he proceeded to perpetrate perhaps the worst incident of fake news in American media history at a time when Americans relied on the Times and a handful of other large media outlets to bring them news from around the world.

Duranty’s motivation for covering up the crimes taking place in Ukraine has never been fully ascertained. However, it undoubtedly gave the Bolshevik sympathizer better access to Stalin’s regime, which routinely fed him propaganda.

While privately admitting that many Ukrainians had starved to death, Duranty sent numerous reports back to the United States praising the good work of the Soviet government. He reported that there had been some deaths from “diseases due to malnutrition,” but called the suggestion that a widespread famine was taking place “malignant propaganda.”

These reports were highly influential in the United States and had enormous impact on U.S.-Soviet relations. Historian Robert Conquest wrote in his book, “The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine”, that due to the perceived credibility of The New York Times, the American people accepted the fraudulent accounts as true.

Sally J. Taylor wrote in her book “Stalin’s Apologist” that Duranty’s reports helped convince President Franklin D. Roosevelt to extend official diplomatic recognition to the Soviet government in November of 1933. She wrote: “[A]lmost single-handedly did Duranty aid and abet one of the world’s most prolific mass murderers, knowing all the while what was going on but refraining from saying precisely what he knew to be true.”

Though Duranty’s reporting was a lie, The New York Times never questioned its authenticity and dismissed charges that their reporter was cooking up false reports. Famed British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge wrote of this willful self-deception in his autobiography:

If the New York Times went on all those years giving great prominence to Duranty’s messages, building him and them up when they were so evidently nonsensically untrue […] this was not, we may be sure, because the Times was deceived. Rather it wanted to be so deceived, and Duranty provided the requisite deception material.

In the more centralized national media landscape of the mid-20th century, a fraudulent story like that published in the Times was both more likely to be believed and less likely to be debunked.

The Truth Cannot Be Centrally Planned

But America’s evolving media landscape is again moving toward decentralization. And, fortunately, the First Amendment is a mighty weapon against the suffocating and stultifying suppression of speech that frequently occurs in other nations.

The system the Founders created and intended for the United States was one that they hoped would lead our civilization to the truth. We have acquiesced to the fact that there will always be a great deal that the smartest and the wisest simply don’t know. No earthly, impartial arbiter has the capacity, or should have the capacity, to determine absolute fact for us—especially in the realm of politics, philosophy, and man’s relation to man.

For all the uncertainty and chaos that an unfettered media seem to engender, Americans have been best at ultimately veering closer to the truth than any other people. The First Amendment is one of the greatest of many gifts the Founding generation bequeathed us and has been a truly defining feature of American exceptionalism with few comparisons around the globe.

Through all the angst over fake news, fraudulent journalists, and media hyperbole, the American republic will survive. In the end, fake news peddlers will only damage their own reputations and bring doubt on their reporting. Fortunately, our freedom isn’t dependent on the musings of the White House press corps. It hinges on the Constitution and the liberty it was created to protect.

This article originally appeared in the fall edition of the Insider.

The post The History of Fake News in the United States appeared first on The Daily Signal.

We Hear You: Term Limits, the Russia Probe, the NFL, Religious Freedom, and Other Obsessions of 2017

Editor’s note: For our roundup of letters at year’s end, we thought we’d highlight some letters from The Daily Signal’s audience that we meant to publish earlier. Enjoy, and don’t forget to write us at letters@dailysignal.com.Ken McIntyre

Dear Daily Signal: In my view, the No. 1 problem in D.C. is that congressmen and senators constantly are re-elected and do not have term limits like the president does. They end up serving for decades, and their focus shifts from serving their country and constituents, if that was ever their motivation, to getting re-elected and gaining more power.

The year 2017 amply demonstrated this issue. The Founders anticipated this, and gave a means to rectify it in Article 5 of the Constitution. Article 5 deals with amending the Constitution, and provides two means.

The one that has been used exclusively to date is that Congress passes a proposed constitutional amendment and sends it to the states, three-fourths of which (38) must ratify the amendment for it to be approved.

The other way to amend the Constitution is for two-thirds of the states (34) to propose convening a constitutional convention. If the states approve the same charter, a convention is convened and may consider any amendment to the Constitution.

This has been used as a red herring by opponents who say any crazy thing could be proposed. When the organization making this push convened a mock convention, though, that didn’t happen because of the rules in place. But even if something crazy was proposed, it would be sent tc the states, and 38 would have to approve it before it became an actual amendment to the Constitution.

The organization pursuing this effort is called Convention of States, of which I am not a part. To date, 12 states have approved a resolution calling for a convention, so organizers need 22 more.

All kinds of potential amendments could be considered, including ones requiring a balanced budget, setting term limits for Supreme Court justices, and specifying the ability of Congress to overturn Supreme Court decisions. The website lists them. But the single most important amendment is congressional term limits: two six-year terms for senators, six two-year terms for congressmen.

I urge The Daily Signal’s readers to go to the website and, if they support the effort, get involved and pass the word. Congressional term limits are the key to draining the swamp.—George O’Neal, Dayton, Ohio

***

Dear Daily Signal: Americans elected Republicans to stand behind President Trump and work out any plan that needs help being passed. If we had wanted to vote for Democrats to have the numbers to win, we would have voted that way. We gave the power to the Republicans, but they are siding with Democrats and nothing is getting done.

Cleaning the swamp must be done, and Democrats are determined not to let this happen. I never believed in term limits for our elected officials, but I’m ready to vote that way. I think so many elected officials get in office and do nothing to support the president. And why is it that Democrats and Republicans can’t work together on repealing broken-down Obamacare?

I am tired of all the scares we get, day in and out, to take something else from federal employees. We are retired and haven’t had a real raise in years. Every time we get a raise, our health premiums go sky high.

I can tell President Trump a place he can take money from: Look at all the perks our elected officials enjoy. Meal tickets, travel expenses, expense cards that allowed thousands of dollars for a pizza party and Nancy Pelosi’s buying thousands of dollars of alcohol. Why are taxpayers paying for all their perks? They make more than enough money to pay their own way in Washington.—Mary Tuttle

***

Dear Daily Signal: Congress is not going to repeal Obamacare because lawmakers are beholden to campaign donors. You can’t have health care reform unless and until the health care industry stops the price gouging, particularly the pharmaceuticals and insurance companies interested mostly in big profits. These entities and lobbyists all have a seat at the table and donate to campaign funds. This appears to be a racket.

People are forced to purchase generic medications mostly from offshore suppliers. Big problem there, too. What is in these drugs that is causing all the dangerous side effects? And why are there medications that people can’t get off? Time for a full investigation.

It is past time for a cure for cancer and other diseases, but the industry obviously doesn’t want a cure. They make too much money on treatments. Also, fraud and overbilling are not being addressed. Pharmacies are having a field day with nursing homes. Who investigates all of this overbilling?

So many problems in the health care industry easily could be remedied, but there is no real interest. It is all for show.Norma Mabry, Columbia, S.C.

Building a Wall, Paying for Border Patrol

Dear Daily Signal: I’m a retired state trooper. After reading Fred Lucas’ story on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (“How GOP Attorneys General Forced Trump to Act on DACA“), I was thinking: What is the big opposition to the border wall?

Answer: Money. Well, how about figuring out the cost and efficiency of a wall versus Border Patrol officers?

The wall would be a solid barrier that could have an assortment of electronic detection and/or cameras rather than wages, vehicles, and retirement benefits for an overwhelming force that so far really hasn’t stopped border crossings.

Border officers still will be needed, but a much smaller force could seek out those detected at the wall. Stopping the action before it happens would lessen costs for holding facilities, hearings, courts, and so on.

It would seem the wall could break even in cost in a short period of time and be more efficient.—Ken Parsons

The Left’s Problem With American History

Dear Daily Signal: Thanks for Jarrett Stepman’s informative article on Christopher Columbus (“The Truth About Columbus“). I am a retired senior citizen, and I must admit I needed to refresh my knowledge. This article did that.

To me, there are those who wish to strip and tear apart the very fiber of our nation. This is deplorable. In my opinion, most of these divisive, far-left liberals do not even know what they are speaking of.

They need to re-educate themselves on world history and U. S. history, written by truly objective sources. Perhaps in the long run that would not help, because they seem to have closed minds. But at least they could become better educated about which they speak and protest against.

The Daily Signal is a beacon of hope and clarity for me, and I thank Mr. Stepman and all the staff at The Daily Signal. Your articles are always “first class.”

I am disabled and live on Social Security. While I couldn’t contribute due to disproportionate medical costs in 2017, I certainly will be able to do so starting in January 2018. Please continue to report the truth, because the so-called mainstream media is not doing so.—Randolph L. Groninger

***

Regarding Jarrett Stepman’s commentary, “How a Radical Left-Wing Historian Birthed the Anti-Columbus Movement“: If Howard Zinn is a valid historian, why does he not realize that we have memorial statues of communist mass murderer Vladimir Lenin standing in Seattle, New York City, and Los Angeles that are not a part of U.S. history and should be destroyed?—Aubrey Yancey 

The National Anthem and the NFL

Dear Daily Signal: Genevieve Wood is exactly right in her NFL commentary (“The Hypocrisy of the NFL“). When it comes to political statements and acts by employees while on the job, they can do whatever their employer lets them do.

If there are ramifications, the employer will be the first to suffer or benefit and the first to have to explain the conduct to the customers (in this case football fans).

As an employee you have the right to say whatever you want or act however you want (within the law) constitutionally, but your employer has the absolute right to fire you or condone what you do as well.

So it looks to me like some NFL managers and owners decided to take a political stand. That entitles them to suffer the positive or negative consequences as well. It’s a business decision. We’ll see how it goes. As for me, I decided I wouldn’t be watching any games at all. I’m sick of it, and I don’t have to be a victim of their politics.—Dave, Florence, Ore.

***

I have stopped watching the NFL until the league decides to step in and stop these protests during the national anthem.

I served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, and have no respect for these overpaid athletes who disrespect the things that set us apart from other countries.  If they don’t like it, they should leave with all the Hollywood jerks who threatened to do so after Donald Trump was elected.

President Trump is voicing what many in the country have no venue to do.  Who wants to listen to me or will publicize what I have to say?  You may be surprised how much support he has, as do Genevieve Wood and The Daily Signal for your commentary.—John Cox, North Carolina

***

Thanks for Genevieve Wood’s video commentary, which I shared.  The NFL has successfully branded itself as a home for heroes—bigger, faster, stronger, better. They come into our homes via TV, and we cheer for our favorites. We are loyal to our team and individual players, and believe we know them. We like them and believe they like us.

But fans are slowly beginning to realize that the NFL image is incredibly deceptive—a product of ultraslick marketing. The NFL is all about its fame, fortune, and political agenda—an agenda that many patriotic Americans oppose. Maybe it’s time to question our loyalty to the NFL. Maybe it’s time for a boycott.—Patriotic Moms

***

I have been a diehard NFL fan for over 45 years, since I was a kid.  If these players cannot respect our national anthem when soldiers fought to raise our flag in numerous wars to give them the right to play football and they do not respect that, I do not need to watch them.

Isn’t there a better way to protest than our anthem, which represents the land of the free? Why don’t these players turn in their jerseys and go overseas to Iraq, Afghanistan, or North Korea, so we can have equal rights in our country?

Do they think the women of these countries are treated fairly? Take off your jersey and give away your million-dollar salary and really stand up for what you believe. What a bunch of cowards, kneeling for our flag.—Tommy Van Ess, Madison, Wis.

Equating a Christian Baker With Nazis

Dear Daily Signal: Regarding Kelsey Harkness’s video report on baker Jack Phillips, I don’t understand why people think his religious views make his right to refuse service less than their right to have a cake made (“Underreported: Christian Baker Reacts to Government Official’s Comparing Him to a Nazi“). If you, for any reason, force what you want on someone concerning a service they provide, you might as well just say, “And spit in my food while you at at it.”

I wouldn’t want to make someone provide a service for me. Their rights and beliefs should be respected, too. And the happy same-sex couple who caused themselves and this guy so much grief should have just moved on down the road and found a baker that was more than happy to make their cake. Without the spit.—Brenda Reardon

***

I enjoy Kelsey Harkness’ reporting of truthful facts that help give the other side of the story about American values. Much of the rest of the current media does not do that.

Their information is slanted, liberal gibberish found within the circles of biased, talking heads with an agenda taken from scripted, anti-American journalists.

My question to them is: When your freedoms are gone and the Constitution is only a fading memory, who will you turn to when you are silenced?

Please continue to unmask those who will continue to come after our freedoms with a vengeance that is right out of the un-American playbooks of the fascist parties. America needs to wake or be overrun from outside our borders.—John Buckley

***

The Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a legal union, equal to heterosexual marriage in all civil matters such as Social Security spousal benefits, spousal health care benefits, spousal benefits in tax matters, and so on. The ruling did not include a decree that everyone also must accept that gay marriage is a religious union ordained by God.

It’s not included because the Supreme Court is not authorized to speak for God. That’s outside their jurisdiction.

However, because of the First Amendment, if a gay couple wants to believe their marriage is a religious union, they have a right to believe that.  But they don’t have a right to force anyone else to believe that.  The Supreme Court cannot force anyone to believe that.

The court does not have the authority to dictate to anyone what their religious beliefs must be.  So people who believe in traditional marriage—that the only marriage ordained by God is the union of one man and one woman—have the right to that religious belief and the “free exercise thereof.”—Anita Goodspeed

Sessions, Mueller, the FBI, and Russia

Dear Daily Signal: As 74-year-old voter, I always felt that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be weak when it came to prosecuting “his” own people, namely Congress (“Amid Trump’s Threats, Conservatives Rally Around Sessions“).

Rudy Giuliani has the capabilities, the toughness, and the proven fortitude to do the job that needs to be done. This yearlong, ridiculous witch hunt into Russia should be stopped immediately. It is a political vendetta.Maureen Waite

***

Please, someone out there with public exposure, advocate for Jeff Sessions to cancel his recusal from the Russia probe when special counsel Robert Mueller goes beyond his original mandate of campaign-related investigations. That was the context of the recusal, and it should change when that mandate is exceeded.

We are well past that point, with Mueller going into Trump business matters 10 years gone by. Sessions is fully, credibly qualified to reverse his recusal and take control of his department.Robert Toews

***

Trump needs to take the political heat. Fire Mueller and explain why to the American people. If the president leaves Mueller in place, this is not going to end well. He is going to find something made up, half true, a process crime, whatever. Trump should also fire Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein for making such a bad decision and folding under pressure so fast.Bob Trento

***

The attorney general should have done something long ago rather than waiting until now to issue another vague and empty warning (“Jeff Sessions Warns Sanctuary Cities About Missing Out on Help to Fight Crime“).M.D. Barber

***

How about an article on the merits of President Trump’s firing the FBI director and threatening to fire his attorney general and the special counsel due to Trump’s highly questionable relationship with the Russian government (“Legal Experts Weigh in on Trump’s Right to Be Riled at Sessions, DOJ“)?

Your article should deep-dive into the problems for our country if we have a president who has been financed for years by the Russian government and the oligarchs it controls. Of course, you would never write that article.

The Heritage Foundation has become a hypocritical door mat for Trump.  You have lost all credibility on all subjects. Close down shop. Trump’s supporters, like himself, do not read. So unless you are spoon-feeding his cult leaders, Rush and Hannity, no one is reading you. Hopefully your donations reflect this as well.Mary C. Oliver

NASA and the American Spirit

Dear Daily Signal: Regarding the commentary by Bonner Cohen and James Conway, NASA lives in myriads of fantasies and wastes the taxpayers’ money (“How to Make NASA Great Again“) How much more money is going to be allowed to go to waste by NASA?  The foolishness is so extravagant.

The people cannot and will not take care of this planet, yet NASA seeks somewhere else to make a complete garbage dump, and at the cost of their lives in propelling their foolish desires.

Was it ever possible to replenish Mars with plant life and treatable air and water? A child would possibly think in these terms, yet educated clowns are demanding that we try these insidious fantasies.

What does the immense cost for a Mars expedition supply for our nation? Initially a certain cost figure will come out, but it will escalate exponentially in ensuing years. We should stop the whimsical ideas immediately and focus on the real needs of mankind here on terra firma.—Ivars Loce

***

While there are some flaws to this commentary on NASA, the basic concept is accurate. Landing a man on the moon in less than a decade was a great accomplishment, but it was a disaster for the long-term exploration of space.

The correct approach is to build a space infrastructurewhich should include the International Space Stationthat would allow for regular visits to the moon and elsewhere at the lowest cost with the greatest amount of safety.

I’ll also say that NASA should not be deciding where they should go. That’s a job for Congress and the president. NASA is primarily an engineering organization that should be given goals to achieve, not set them itself.—Kevin W. Parker

Future of the Filibuster 

Dear Daily Signal: The parties in the Senate are so diametrically opposed, it is difficult to see how any meaningful legislation will get passed (“Conservatives to Trump: Short-Term Victories From Killing Filibuster Could Be Costly“).

The legislators in each party, particularly the Democrats, march to the beat of their leaders. They are loathe to step out of line, even for the good of the country.

What a bunch of puppets. The common good and logic seem to have departed the legislative process in recent administrations.

It does seem the filibuster is too easy to engage, with 60 votes (20 percent more than a majority) necessary to override one. Perhaps 55 to 57 votes would achieve desired results.

Maybe the filibuster is an excuse for inaction and kicking the can down the road.  The can is getting worn out.Brad Kocher

***

Thanks for being a voice of reason and truth. I would like to see your White House correspondent, Fred Lucas, who I follow closely, do an article on the reasons for getting rid of the filibuster in the Senate.

First, remember that it was then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who got rid of it for federal judges, thus allowing President Obama to pack the courts with liberal activist judges who have been doing everything they can to slow or stop President Trump’s agenda.

Second, it was current Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who killed the filibuster for Supreme Court justices.

So here is where we stand. President Trump can’t fulfill his agenda due to opposition by the congressional swamp. If this continues, he will be blamed instead of Congress. We will likely take a beating in 2018.

This is what the Democrats are planning for. And if they win back the Senate, here is exactly what will happen: The new Democrat majority leader immediately will abolish the filibuster, and the liberals will unleash a socialist/communist attack on this country that will destroy us.

Wake up to reality. The Democrats play hardball while Republicans play badminton.

Republicans should get rid of the filibuster and pass every bit of the Trump agenda.  This would give the economy a huge boost, create massive jobs and wealth, and actually make America great again. No Democrat would dare attempt to undo this, as they would be laughed out of office.

The future of our country is at stake, and it seems to me that Republicans are totally clueless. God help America.—Dale Athanas, Old Lyme, Conn.

More on Those Banned Farmers

Dear Daily Signal: The case of Steve and Bridget Tennes, the Michigan farmers banned from the farmers market, is a can of worms that should never have been opened (“Farmer Fights Back Against City Ban of Traditional Marriage Supporters From Farmers Market“).

However, now that it’s opened, I stand with the farmers and religion. It would serve the city of East Lansing right if the farmers all banded together and boycotted the farmers market. But that solves no problems and could hurt everyone.

So the only amicable solution I see is for the city to back off and make amends. Yeah, the city’s feelings are going to be hurt. But more than likely, city officials won’t relinquish their “power.” Then the public will have their say. It might just be the end of the farmers market.Stanley Howey

***

I read with interest Kelsey Harkness’ article about Steve and Bridget Tennes being prohibited from selling their produce at the farmers market in East Lansing, Michigan (“Couple Banned From Farmers Market Over Same-Sex Marriage Views Speak Out“).

I pray the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the Colorado baker with similar problems.   Perhaps it will play an important factor in the Tennes family’s case. Keep informing us about the stories we never read about in the mostly liberal press with a biased agenda.Jo Ann Rinaldo

***

Thank you for covering this important story. I fully support the Tenneses in their right to free speech and freedom from an intolerant government. Please keep us up to date.

This is what is hugely wrong with our country today, the intolerance of government. I am a conservative who is extremely disillusioned with Republicans currently serving with my president.Maribeth Hueber, Cincinnati

What’s Great About America

Dear Daily Signal: As sad as it is to see the devastation from Hurricane Harvey, it is watching people come together that gives us hope in these troubling times (“Hurricane Harvey Brings Out the Best in Americans“).

Prayer helps. No looting, no marching, no protestsvery reassuring, despite the tragedy. It is wonderful to hear this nice news in the face of all the bad. Thanks for making my day a little lighter.

Now we need to realize we will all have to sacrifice to help our neighbors. God bless us and keep us and make us see we are one.—Susan Rose

No, They’re Not Liberals

Dear Daily Signal: I admire and look forward to your daily reports. I have only one quibble, and it is the use of the term “liberal.” What a wretched misnomer.

“Liberal” once meant a philosophy opposite to that of a “conservative” party, but no genuine liberal party exists anymore. In fact, we have more true liberal politics on the right than anywhere else.

George Will observed that the party on the left are really “progressives” who believe history has a destination known only to them, and they want to take us there. They have zero right to the name liberal.

In “The Road to Serfdom,” Friedrich A. Hayek long ago commented: “It has been part of the camouflage of leftist movements in this country, helped by the muddle-headedness of many who really believe in liberty, that ‘liberal’ has come to mean the advocacy of almost every kind of government control.”

Call them “progressives” or lefties, police-staters or what you will, but please don’t dignify them with the honorable term liberal. They are anything but.Tom Anderson, Eureka, Calif.

This and That

Dear Daily Signal: I just wanted to thank Kelsey Harkness for doing such a great job. The mix of fun and satire on her “Problematic Women” show is wonderful (“Why Wonder Woman Is a Problem for Feminists“).

I know that the issues we face are serious, but fighting the irrational views of the left with a smirk is so much fun.

I loved the Windex commercial too. Maybe it is because I have a 9-year-old daughter, but it actually made me cry. Keep up the good work.—Pastor Dominick Cuozzo, New Egypt, N.J.

***

If these “Dreamers” are wanting to stay in the United States, why have they not tried to become legal residents (“Trump Signals Willingness to Trade ‘Dreamers’ Amnesty for Merit-Based Immigration Reform“)?

I believe all they want is free stuff, education we pay for, and food and housing they get free or subsidized by us, the taxpayers. It is time they step up  and admit they broke the laws of the USA. No other country would let this go on.

Americans are taxed above and beyond to pay for those who do not do the right thing, morally or legally.—Cindy Haschke

***

I’m writing about Rep. Phil Roe’s commentary, “Union Bosses Have Too Much Control.” I got laid off from my job after 10 years. It was a union job, and our union was useless to say the least. Its only purpose that I saw was to make sure people who should have been fired a dozen times over kept their job over a paperwork technicality.—Ryan Woody

***

President Trump should cancel by executive order all exemptions from Obamacare (“How Trump Could Force Congress and Its Staff to Live Under Obamacare“). Congress does not think it is a severe punishment on American citizens, so they should be allowed to live under the program they support.—David Jerome

***

Having graduated from a well-known scientific and technology college, I see absolutely no reason why more women are not studying engineering and related subjects. It is their choice and their choice alone.

My school has had an extensive drive the past eight years to enroll more women, with great success. The current freshman class is nearly 50-50. You start at the freshman year in high school trying to convince young women that math and science are not evil subjects to be avoided at all cost.—Merle Southern

***

Regarding recent riots and protests, I see many participants dressed in what I regard as terrorist garb such as black-hooded shirts and masks. Anyone dressed like that is asking for a possible deadly response from an old fellow like me. A masked person typically represented someone bent on deadly violence in my day.

What does it take for our law enforcement to react to this sort of ignorant and aggressive behavior? Why is deterrent action not taken before violence begins? Where are the water cannons of yesteryear? This is getting serious, folks.—John H. Ross, Montrose, Colo.

***

They say every vote counts, but does it (“Get Involved Locally. You Might Just Save the Country“)? When I was young. I wanted everything done for me, but my parents didn’t agree with me, thank goodness. Today, just where are the parents and are they collecting any and every government handout?

At some point in my life, I came to the realization that if I wanted something then I needed to figure out what it was and how to get it. Somehow, I figured out that if government gave it to me, someone else had to pay for it since government doesn’t earn a dime.

I have nothing against helping people, but if I’m going to help them they need to put something in the pot as payment. States like Maine are changing their laws to require that. Seems when that happens the lazy folk move to another state, and costs to states like Maine decrease.Sinclair Doggett

How Are We Doing?

Dear Daily Signal: Thanks for writing about the news the way I hear it and understand it. The Daily Signal is the best. Now I want to know how to get the news across to my liberal friends so they will listen.

One radio commentator suggested that President Trump register to run as an Independent in the next election. I think that would be a good idea.  If 60 percent of the rest of the country splits 30/30 between Democrats and Republicans, Trump would win with his 40 percent.—Susan Rose

***

I thank you for your complete, accurate, and honest reporting of cultural and governmental problems.  To add interest, often included in the reports are previous decades’ contribution to the cause and history of an event.  This gives a citizen a way to pray for the event or topic, and for those involved, and for solutions—including things for which the citizens of the country must take responsibility.—Nancy Shaffer, Warsaw, Ind.

***

Exactly what have the conservatives done for our country in the past 37 years? There is so much horrible stuff you guys have done to unravel a generally peaceful society, which still does not have health care for all.

And you wonder why the conservatives are not talked about glowingly? The Daily Signal is sending all the wrong signals to the citizenry.—Chris Chalogias

***

Thank you for inspiring messages and columns, such as those by Walter Williams.—Don Ranck, Paradise, Pa.

***

The blocking of highways, kneeling and raising fists during NFL games, and police shootings all have stemmed from the disruptive  “resistance” movement.  After hearing how good the stock market is, and how a lot of jobs are opening up, just what is the left complaining about? The losers are turning into anti-America.—Carol Crowe

***

After 55 years of being a liberal Democrat, having been raised at the altars of FDR and LBJ, I became disgusted and frankly embarrassed by the “Democrat” Party. What happened? So here comes Mr. Trump and brings with him my governor, Mike Pence, and pulls me into his triumph of November 2016.

I now am a contributor to The Heritage Foundation, and am re-reading Robert Rector (no relation, sadly), with a different eye. The Daily Signal is my wake-up paper.—Anne Rector, Indiana

***

Love the “We Hear You” page. Many contributions are knowledgeable, articulate, and even eloquent. Many with lots to contribute to our democracy have been silenced already, i.e. no one hears us. Please continue this feature, at least weekly. It’s nice to know we are not alone.Liana Silsby

The post We Hear You: Term Limits, the Russia Probe, the NFL, Religious Freedom, and Other Obsessions of 2017 appeared first on The Daily Signal.

The Difference Between How Conservatives, Liberals Define Patriotism

A new poll by the American Culture & Faith Institute uncovered some interesting—and perhaps worrisome—trends when it comes to how Americans think they can properly support their country.

The study found that Americans think patriotism is generally in decline, but we can’t even agree on how to define it, let alone settle on whether it’s generally a good or bad thing.

For instance, believing that America should always come first, conservatives rated military service and protecting the American flag highly on the patriotism scale, while liberals did not.

Liberals largely embraced the idea that using nonviolent civil disobedience to overcome social injustice was a particularly patriotic act, while conservatives tended to be more lukewarm to that.

There was even a divide over which corporations and organizations are considered patriotic. Conservatives favored retailer Hobby Lobby, the National Rifle Association, and Chick-fil-A as patriotic, while liberals clearly leaned toward Starbucks, The New York Times, and Planned Parenthood.

It was perhaps no surprise that the National Football League, which has been plagued all season by controversy over national anthem protests by players, is viewed very differently by the American left and right.

Only 10 percent of conservatives labeled the NFL “very patriotic,” while 30 percent of liberals in the survey said it is.

If anything, the survey’s findings point to some of the most intense friction points in the culture wars.

That there are sharp political divisions in this country is nothing new. From the earliest days of the United States’ existence we have been fighting over what policies are most effective, who is fit to hold power, and what cultural norms will produce the best outcomes.

But if this poll and the general feeling of America in 2017 are any indication, our divisions are a bit deeper than they had been even up until quite recently.

If we can’t agree on what patriotism is, where are we going to find common ground?

Part of this trend undoubtedly flows from the powerful push by America’s elite institutions to move away from creating unity out of an incredibly diverse nation.

Instead, they aim to divide and elevate what are often the smallest distinctions among us.

America in the past was mostly devoted to celebrating its unity and its institutions designed to buttress our national identity. We were committed to forging this identity through our country’s timeless founding ideas, as well as our unique history.

Our culture now almost reverse-engineers that effort—both in rejecting our founding ideas as untrue or outdated, and abandoning our history as in many ways sordid and indefensible.

In place of a kind of unifying and expanding civic nationalism, we are left with the all-too-familiar squabbles over race, class, and gender.

That’s why battles over identity and patriotism are now so ferocious and seem worse than in the past.

A fundamental disagreement over what defines our country’s cornerstone ideas, along with polar opposite conceptions of how best to define identity, are creating unbridgeable fissures in our society—ones that many Americans desperately want to stitch back together.

Some liberals, like professor Mark Lilla at Columbia University, have pleaded for the left to re-embrace the kind of civic unity of the New Deal-era progressivism or face catastrophe.

“We must relearn how to speak to citizens as citizens and to frame our appeals for solidarity—including ones to benefit particular groups—in terms of principles that everyone can affirm,” Lilla said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed column.

He was mostly attacked or ignored by the intellectual left.

So the culture wars, and the wars over identity, will continue as many Americans grasp for leaders who can effectively re-create a concept of unity from the shattered and hostile factions of our republic.

This is almost impossible to do if, at the ground level, Americans have such a vastly different notion of what human nature is or define patriotism in radically different ways.

The American Culture & Faith Institute poll found that only 10 percent of conservatives consider themselves “culture warriors” as opposed to 22 percent of liberals.

If we are committed to reversing our country’s long-term problems, perhaps that needs to change.

Elections serve their purpose, but it’s clear that culture and outlook define our politics more than anything else. That battleground is more important than any temporary electoral victory or defeat.

The post The Difference Between How Conservatives, Liberals Define Patriotism appeared first on The Daily Signal.

How George Washington’s Sterling Character Set an Example for the Ages

For most Americans, the 23rd of December has no particular significance.

But an extraordinary event happened on that day in 1783 in Annapolis, Maryland, that stunned the world. Gen. George Washington stood before the Continental Congress in Maryland’s State House and resigned his commission as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.

It changed the American republic forever.

Washington had served as commander since 1775. Throughout eight grueling years of war, he led his soldiers through glorious triumphs and crushing losses.

His ragtag group of farmers and shopkeepers was outnumbered by a superior British force. It had been ravaged by disease and starvation.

Several times, it was on the verge of dissolution—after the disastrous defeat in New York City in 1776 and during the brutal winter at Valley Forge. But, with the help of the French military, Washington kept his army together, and he emerged from the war with the devotion of his men.

Washington’s task was to fight an asymmetric war against the more powerful British Empire. In that respect, his task was not unique. History is full of examples of weaker powers fighting, and even defeating, a stronger power.

What made Washington’s mission unique was that he was leading a large-scale republic conceived under a revolutionary principle; namely, that all men were created equal and that governments exist to secure their God-given rights. The Americans were embarking on a new experiment to prove whether this revolutionary belief could become a reality.

For the Americans, it wasn’t just about winning the war. It was also about how they would win.

The Americans were fighting against British tyranny, against what they considered to be a corrupt and centralized system that deprived them of their natural rights and taxing them without their consent.

They were used to governing themselves through Colonial legislatures that checked any centralizing tendencies. But winning wars often requires centralizing authority and raising taxes. And armies, by necessity, often resort to violating the rights of civilians during wartime, such as confiscating property and arresting citizens suspected of treason under military courts.

Washington had the unique challenge of winning the war consistent with revolutionary principles.

Many observers around the world doubted that such a vast republic could be created. Sure, there were republics in Italian city-states or in Dutch provinces, but the American Colonies were themselves the size of entire countries.

How could they be governed without a strongman? How could so many interests be held together without breaking out into anarchy? After all, the Greek and Roman republics both turned into dictatorships, and the vast majority of states around the world were ruled by monarchies.

Even if Washington won the war, surely he would end up having to rule as a dictator. If the American Revolution would not be defeated on the battlefield, it would be defeated in principle.

Washington would be tempted several times by the allure of power. By 1782, some within Washington’s army doubted the Revolution would succeed. Many of the soldiers were suffering because neither the states, nor the Continental Congress was willing to raise the funds necessary to pay them.

The government was just too weak—or simply unwilling—to pay the soldiers. To some Americans, this exposed a defective weakness in the republican government. One man, Col. Lewis Nicola, wrote a letter to Washington in May 1782 suggesting that “strong arguments might be produced for admitting the title of king”—that Washington take monarchical power.

Washington responded forcefully to Nicola, saying he viewed such thoughts “with abhorrence, and reprehend with severity.” He then ordered Nicola “to banish these thoughts from your mind.”

But many in the army continued to think that strong measures should be taken. By March 1783, several officers participated in a plot in army encampments in Newburgh, N.Y., to threaten the Congress, perhaps by refusing to disband after the war ended.

Although Washington sympathized with his men, he knew that disobeying the civilian government would destroy the very principles he had been fighting for. In an emotional speech to his officers, he pleaded with them to “express your utmost horror and detestation of the man who wishes … to overturn the liberties of our country and … open the [floodgates] of civil discord, and deluge our rising empire in blood.”

With that, the plot ended and the tenuous civil control over the military held.

That brings us to that fateful day, Dec. 23, 1783. The Treaty of Paris had been signed, and the United States was all but independent.

Washington arrived at the State House in Annapolis around noon. As he faced Thomas Mifflin, president of the Continental Congress, Washington declared, “I have now the honor of offering my sincere congratulations to Congress and of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.”

One witness, James McHenry, wrote, “It was a solemn and affecting spectacle; such [a] one as history does not present. The spectators all wept.” Washington ended “by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God.” At this, McHenry wrote, “his voice [faltered] and sunk, and the whole house felt his agitations.”

Washington then drew out his commission and handed it over to Mifflin. He then headed home, back to Mount Vernon, arriving there on Christmas Day 1783 as a private citizen. The image of a man surrendering power in a time of kings and emperors stunned the world.

 American painter John Trumbull, in Europe at the time, observed that the act “excites the astonishment and admiration of this part of the world.”

“’Tis a conduct so novel, so unconceivable to people, who, far from giving up powers they possess, are willing to convulse the empire to acquire more,” he said.

Upon learning of Washington’s resignation, King George III himself remarked, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”

Recent political scandals are only confirming the widespread belief that our politicians, at all levels, abuse the power they have. For many Americans, abuse of power seems to characterize our system, whether it is the institutional mechanisms that ensure the repeated election of career politicians or the revelation of their personal indiscretions.

At a time when faith in our leaders is at an all-time low, it is easy to forget that we were founded largely through the work of a man who, when tempted with absolute power, refused to take it.

It’s no longer in vogue to study the virtues of our statesmen. We live in a cynical age, in which it sells far more books that “uncover” America’s sins, rather than celebrate its greatness. And the “sophistication” of moral ambiguity sells far more than the “simplistic” affirmation of character.

Washington was not a perfect man, but his story reminds us about a time when virtue was valued and extolled. In the words of Daniel Webster, “American has furnished to the world the character of Washington. And if our American institutions had done nothing else, that alone would have entitled them to the respect of mankind.”

In an age crying out for character, it’s time to rediscover the example Washington set for us on Dec. 23, 1783.

 

The post How George Washington’s Sterling Character Set an Example for the Ages appeared first on The Daily Signal.