Ideals Should Trump Everything
Written by Donald L Hughes, July 2016
“A better and more lasting patriotism can be inculcated by a frank and unabashed preaching of democratic ideals as a faith. Do you think any the less of Judaism because Moses killed a man; or of Catholicism because Augustine was a sinner in his younger days; or of Protestantism because Calvin had Servetus burned at the stake? If we hold with religious fervor to our democratic ideals of liberty of expression, equality of opportunity, and tolerance of others creeds and opinions, what difference will it make that some of democracy’s heroes were land grabbers, job hunters, and publicity hounds? Our ideals, not a series of frail mortals, ought to be held up to our school children as the foundation of our national creed.”
Louis Gottschalk, Understanding History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1950), 9.
This bold statement was penned long before the shackles of “politically corrective-ness” quieted common sense, and before the ideals of the Founding Fathers were discarded in favor of focusing on their human frailties. The fervor needed to sustain this democratic Republic that the founders established (supported by their individual and collective faith), must be rooted in a religious-type commitment to such ideals. At the heart of the American experiment were unpleasant, unpolished and harsh individuals, with equally hard tactics that were needed to pay the price of liberty and freedom; any other way would not have met the challenges of building a new nation. The architects and builders had the stamina and determination to complete their vision of what the country should be, in spite of their personal, individual faults. And this determination came from a deep well of faith-based belief in democracy, and individual liberty as a God-given right.
Our country has found itself at a cross-roads of such fervor many times, and this year’s election is perhaps the most decisive yet: two complete belief systems of governing in stark contrast to each other. And perhaps, for the first time in a long time, both sides are more than surface political rhetoric, but actual “movements” that are not derailed by their respective candidate’s obvious human faults. The choice has boiled down to which of the two holds the true democratic ideals that our Constitution was founded on? Which of the two movements has the stamina to pass the test of time, to build and not tear down, to unite and not divide, to lift up and not suppress? History will show that the American people rose above the political fray, and voted for the ideals of democracy rather than a mere candidate, and elected the hope of true national liberty, not just a political party.