“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
~ Thomas Paine, The Crisis, Dec. 1776
Author’s note: This piece was originally written and posted in May of 2018. Comments today by Nukeman and Nevergopjohnt reminded me of it and I thought it would be appropriate to run it again as it applies now just as much (or even more) as it did then.
I’ve had frequent thoughts about whether I should simply quit politics and forget about it. I bet you have as well, especially during the past couple of years.
I think about how nice it must be for those masses of voters out there that go through life oblivious to what’s going on, and not stressing about it. Ignorance is bliss, they say.
But ignorance can only be bliss for the many by taking advantage of the blessings won by the few who fought for the rights that created a situation where they are able to walk obliviously through life. The longer that goes on, however, the more those blessings are lost and eventually people will no longer be able to blissfully ignore what’s going on.
Is it too late to fix things?
As I write my essay series, “The People Are Sovereign!” I frequently get comments along the lines of, “Yes, Steve, I agree with what you’re saying, but there is just no way we’re going to make these changes at this point. The people are too far gone.”
Believe me, I often have those thoughts myself. Which then starts the process of thinking about why I “waste my time” with this stuff.
Whenever I start thinking I’d be better off if I just walk away from all of this, I start to wonder what would have been if George Washington and the other patriots had given up. Every time I learn about the details of the Revolution and how many times it could have (should have) been all over for the American Cause, they always found a way to persevere against all odds.
They didn’t give up. And because of that, they gave us the greatest, most free existence ever known to man.
Another type of criticism I get from some concerning my thoughts on what needs to be done to fix things in our Republic is that I am not looking at the reality of things and my solutions are simply a fantasy. In other words, they say something like, “I live in the real world and this is just the way it is and we have to do what we can to make the best of this reality, we can’t worry about some fantasy of returning to our Constitutional principles. We have to play the game that is, by the current rules that are.”
But that is not the attitude of a liberty-minded American. That is not the attitude of the patriots that took on the status quo of monarchy and won our independence against the most powerful force on Earth. That is not the attitude of independent thinking that created American Exceptionalism. Rather, that is the attitude that tried to stop it. That is the attitude of the Loyalist. That is the attitude of the apathetic. That is the attitude of the go along to get along status quo establishment.
So as I was thinking about these things while listening to “Washington: A Life” (By Ron Chernow), he was describing the disastrous loss of Fort Washington and Fort Lee and how utterly discouraged and demoralized every patriot was, including, and maybe especially, Washington. It really seemed that all was lost. They desperately needed a win.
Also during this time, Washington was very concerned that thousands of his soldiers would quit the cause and go home after their obligations expired during the coming month (we have to live in reality, after all).
During this period, Thomas Paine wrote “The Crisis”, starting with the passage quoted above at the beginning. It lifted the spirits of the soldiers and helped lead to the turning point victories of the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. It also helped persuade soldiers to remain in the fight beyond their obligations.
They did not quit for us. We cannot quit for future Americans.
This is, literally, the reason for this website. Those who have gathered here recognize that things are not right. At all. We need to start looking at different ways to work toward fixing them. We need to start shaking things up to find a better way. We need to find those who will stand tall against all odds. We need people who are open to a major paradigm shift in our political thinking. We don’t need people who can’t or won’t think beyond what is “the reality”, but rather people who can think about what could be…what should be. This is what civil discourse is all about. This is what our duty is to the Republic.
Which are you? A summer soldier or sunshine patriot, or one who will stay and stand and work for what is right?