Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying on our backs and hugging the elusive phantom of hope, until our enemies have bound us hand and foot? Patrick Henry
On this Memorial Day I’m tired. I’m tired of politics in general and hearing or writing about Trump in particular. I’m tired of supposed conservative talking heads on news panels telling me what polls say or what America thinks when they seem to have no connection to what I think or to what anyone I know thinks. I am tired of losing. I am tired of losing elections to liberals and populists, my income through taxes that the government wastes by the trillions, my country through the trampling of the constitution, and my culture to hedonism.
If I am honest, since the Republican Primary effectively ended, there are times when I have to force myself to even write a column. Even among my most conservative and politically active colleagues I sense an overall feeling of burnout and defeatism. I know it’s there because I am struggling with it daily myself. My message to the man in the mirror and to all of you on this Memorial Day 2016 is this…get over it! I think that’s the message Patrick Henry was sending as well.
Do any of us really have anything to be burnt out about? When we compare our daily sacrifices to that of the men who marched to their deaths on bloody bare feet at Valley Forge, or those who froze to death in fox holes at Bastogne or are even now dying in a desolate desert in Afghanistan, our “sacrifice” begins to seem very small.
I spoke with a friend the other day whose father flew fifty combat missions as a waist gunner in WWII. His father rarely talked about the war, being overcome by emotion every time he tried. Then, in his later years, his father finally told him a story. He had just flown his fiftieth mission and therefore the war was over for him. He didn’t have to go up again. He could have caught a flight back to the US but instead he decided to wait for a close friend who had just flown his 49th. The two agreed to meet after the friends 50th and have a true celebration before returning home together. But the friend’s plane came back terribly damaged and as the father watched it land, he somehow knew his friend was dead. He ended up flying home alone.
“You don’t know,” the father wagged a finger at his son. “You don’t know what we went through. It can’t be described in words or shown in a movie. We sacrificed everything so that you could be free and have the quality of life you have now. “
So what should our generation of conservatives do? Should we throw up our hands and stop trying to change the government through the peaceful and legal means won for us by blood? Should we dig a bomb shelter and buy survival food and tune out public discourse while we wait for the collapse?
I know many of us are discouraged and burned out. We are nearly overwhelmed by the ferocity and velocity with which our constitutional protections are being eroded and our values are becoming passé. Still, we have suffered nothing compared to those who we honor on this Memorial Day.