In Natan Sharansky’s book about freedom, his first book, he inserted quotes by experts about how democracy could never work in the USSR. Some of the quotes came from the speeches and writings of prominent Americans. They are prominent Americans whose professional work you and me, even if of opposite political views, would likely respect or admire. We cannot doubt, as some said was true then, that Soviet citizens of the tyrannical Soviet regime understood the value of freedom. Reader’s Digest once printed an article by a U. S. citizen who had visited Russia. A Soviet citizen approached him cautiously and said softly: “You are an American, aren’t you?” They were strangers to each other, so the American said, “Yes, but how did you guess?” The Soviet said: “You walk free.” We do walk free, and we take it for granted over-much.
That little story reminds that we should value what it means to “walk free.” We need to remember that any freedom can be lost if not cared for and guarded. Part of freedom inwardly is the freedom, which we can claim for ourselves, to think for ourselves. We all have heroes of past and present. Nevertheless, they deserve evaluation in the spotlight. They need to have their weaknesses as well as their strengths are known, as far as they relate to their influence. The best among them would expect and hope for no less from us.
Election day for a new president has come, passed and surprised many. We who voted, need paid attention to the words and demeanor of both candidates, the good and the bad of each. We obviously were able to give good reasons for our final answer. Perhaps looking at who has the best record of fervor for freedom and democracy for this country. Both freedom and democracy are increasingly challenged concepts, even in America, a fact I never thought would be true. Now it is.
Many American citizens enjoy material benefits and personal and professional opportunities that exist in abundance in the U. S. They enjoy their political opinions. They take all of that freedom. They “take them and run,” as the saying goes. This attitude exists among some in academia, government service, churches, public schools, and community and state leaders. This attitude is rare in “the American heartland.” The race, gender, background, education, and even the military service of a candidate are not the main criteria for me. What matters most is who has a clear record of a desire to stand up for this country and for democracy and a clear determination to continue to be faithful to them.
The United States of America has always aimed to share freedom’s benefits, to help the rest of the world rise to freedom, through deliberate policies, strategies, and ways and in spite of agreement or disagreement between the White House and the Congress. Power rests upon the citizens of this country, invested in them by the Constitution and effective in total for as long as this democracy stands. We use that power first by our votes. We also use that power through how we think, speak, and believe for ourselves.