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In the early days of the American experiment, Benjamin Franklin warned, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”
Although virtue has waxed and waned throughout American history, 2018 seems to be a low point. Is freedom in peril?
To answer this question, consider the recent shocking statements of many political figures, especially on the left.
In the last week alone, two prominent Democratic Party leaders have made appalling declarations regarding their political opponents.
On October 10, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made a speech at a campaign event for Georgia gubernatorial candidate and Democrat Stacey Abrams.
During his remarks, Holder rallied voters to abandon the principles (although they were never really practiced) behind Michelle Obama’s famous quote, “When they go low, we go high.”
“When they go low, we kick them,” Holder said. “That’s what this new Democratic Party is about. We’re proud as hell to be Democrats. We’re going to fight for the ideals of the Democratic Party.”
Gee, Mr. Holder, did you never learn the lesson that it’s morally repugnant to kick someone when they’re down?
As if Holder’s lack of virtue wasn’t shocking enough, Hillary Clinton called for the abandonment of civility toward political opponents in a CNN interview one day prior.
“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about,” Clinton said.
Although these statements seem severe, they are no match for the pronouncements two high-profile Democratic members of Congress made in the last few months.
When he’s not having “Spartacus” moments in Senate hearings, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is busy encouraging his followers to confront GOP members of Congress.
At an event in Washington, D.C. on July 25, Booker, who has been mentioned as a possible 2020 presidential candidate, encouraged Americans to “go to the Hill today … Please, get up in the face of some congresspeople.”
It’s highly doubtful that Booker was calling on his supporters to exercise their First Amendment right to petition the government with good intentions. It’s much more likely that Booker’s call to action led to some of the despicable behavior of many left-leaning activists towards Republican Senators such as Susan Collins, Orrin Hatch, Jeff Flake, and Mitch McConnell during the acrimonious Kavanaugh confirmation process.
But that’s not the worst of the virtue downfall. In June, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) urged her supporters to harass members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.
“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” Waters said.
As if this message wasn’t despicable enough, Waters’ supporters used it as a rally cry to attack other Republicans, such as White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, among many others.
Benjamin Franklin said virtue was necessary for freedom, and freedom is the concept upon which the United States was founded. In order to preserve America’s freedom, all Americans should practice virtue not only in the political discourse, but in everyday life as well.
As Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”