When freedom is left undefended – not understood, fully appreciated, earnestly taught, and fought for – it perishes. Ronald Reagan warned us, and history teaches the lesson over and over. For better or worse, we are in a teaching moment.
While Marxist ideas – and perhaps plans – are longstanding, in one presidential election cycle, we are witnessing the rise of groups advocating socialism, anti-American, anti-free speech, anti-capitalist, anti-religious, ready to destroy history, property, and personal security. That is new. It is what Ronald Reagan foresaw.
Unsuppressed mob violence, shadow groups with foreign funding, value vilification, disparaging American traditions, achievements, and unity, appeals to class warfare, chants of systemic racism – cause Americans to distrust Americans.
From where do such disunifying forces come? Largely from foreign sources that are jealous, resentful, offended, and threatened by America – and especially by the powerful, liberating, people-centric, individual-honoring idea of freedom.
China and Russia, much of the Middle East, Far East, Africa, and countries dependent on China and Russia are devoid of civil liberties. Freedom, as we know it, does not exist there. Free speech, worship, assembly, travel, gun ownership, rights against unlawful search, seizure and detention, provisions for fair trial, confronting accusers, due process, equal protection, avoidance of cruel and unusual punishment, and rights belonging to the people – are missing.
In the annual 2020 “Freedom in the World” index, initiated in 1973 and based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 49 countries are described as “not free,” another 63 just “partly free.” The beacon – as Ronald Reagan noted – is the United States. See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_in_the_World.
If you want a three-minute reminder of what Ronald Reagan believed, did, said, and stood for – try this short clip. Representative of his many speeches, and lifetime convictions, you will hold your head higher after being reminded of truth. See, e.g., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiuFzpl28io.
The irony is that our open society, quick to honor individual rights, built around individual freedoms and equal opportunities, open to internal criticism (which allows self-correction), is also – by definition – open to foreign interference, influence, intrusion, manipulation, deception, and those sowing disunity.
With the onset of cheap, easy, one-to-many, borderless communications – by email, text, phone, mainstream and social media, the threat of foreign influence in every aspect of America has multiplied, if not exponentially then by magnitudes.
Foreign actors, communist, socialist, theocratic, authoritarian, universally anti-American, powered by envy and enmity, find it possible to use our openness against us. They have figured out how to turn the sharp blade of pluralism – what we think of as a strength, our differentness – against us, dividing us.
Nowhere is this more obvious, than in the present election cycle. Using the occasion of Democratic disappointment and disdain for a blunt, patriotic American president, foreign actors help fan flames of disunity, and have since 2016.
Whether foreign adversaries prefer Biden-Harris – a malleable ticket – or just wish to disunite America, they have struck while the iron – and political disaffection – is hot. Foreign information operations are on full display. We also know some in the Obama-Biden Administration sought to preemptively unseat Trump, while others pressed forward the post-election aim of impeachment. All this is disuniting.
Even now, the Biden team appears to carry considerable baggage, evidence of close – if not corrupt – connections to places like Ukraine and China. All this rightly gives many Americans pause. But pause is not enough.
Truth is that foreign actors, foreign money, and anti-Trump partisans have – whether by accident or seeing mutual benefit, that is, inadvertently or knowingly – reinforced each other. When racial divisions turned into perpetual violence – roiling cities again this weekend, after 19 weeks, most know something is wrong. Fear is high, confidence being sapped, as Americans are set against Americans.
Again, perhaps as much from ignorance as intent, Democrat leaders, including the Biden-Harris team, have bought into the idea that dividing America – and blaming unrest on Trump – will somehow yield benefit or unity. They are wrong.
Foreign detractors of America know how to manipulate our national mood and election process. They have – this cycle – been unremitting. Too few Americans understand the cost of allowing enemies to divide us, causing hate and disrespect to grow, infecting our election process, undermining the Republic’s legitimacy.
Those who hate America, democracy, popular sovereignty – and freedom – will win, if they can divide us. We are allowing America’s great advantages, the sharp blades of pluralism, diversity, and openness to be turned against us. We must not.
Somehow, elected leaders like Pelosi, Schumer, Biden, Harris, emergent socialists and anti-traditional Democrats in the House and Senate believe that pursuit of power, and ending Trump’s presidency, justifies internal division. Whatever you think of Trump, it does not, never has, never will.
Bottom line: Ignoring freedom, history, tradition, and established American strengths, including respect for one another, is fatal. Democracy requires a modicum of unity, shared values, appreciation for the past, and for differences of opinion, faith, perspective – freedom to be different. If we lose that, we lose it all.
That is why Ronald Reagan was right to warn us, why the “sunset years” of which he spoke – are upon us. If we do not stand up now for each other, America’s traditions, institutions, constitutional principles, and the freedom that got us here – we will be telling our kids what freedom was like, until no one can remember.
Said Reagan – as if to our very hearts today – do not forget: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We did not pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
God bless Ronald Reagan for warning. Thank you, Donald Trump for reminding. Now, let us begin defending freedom with a vote for it, against the opposite. For one final shot of real confidence, consider this short clip of Reagan at his best. And then, stand tall. See, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDVT-8tUfiE