Veteran's Day Message 2012
Fresh from the excitement of the U.S. Election, I'm pleased to see the democratic system of the United States transition power (in this case retain it) in a peaceful manner as has been the hallmark of the great union since George Washington rejected the notion of being a King or President for life.
George Washington left his service as President imparting words of wisdom to the new nation… among those words he said, "The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the constitution which at any time exists till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people is sacredly obligatory upon all". Clearly, President Washington was a man who understood the value of democracy and the rights of the people. He was also a man who suffered terrible hardships of war to enshrine those values.
In the United States election, I watched as partisan politics generated a fever pitch in the months leading up to the election. Even the news channels seemed to have a stronger partisan flavor than usual. Immediately after election, the conversations quickly turn to the problems ahead and how there will be great conflict in a nation so evenly divided. In part, this is probably due to the pain of defeat, which is very real. Especially for the candidates and their campaign workers and the thousands of volunteers who have placed countless hours of their lives into a cause they dearly believed in. But the pain of an election defeat quickly dissipates and the business of the union continues.
I always harbor a strong sense of optimism at election time because I would like to believe that true patriotism is always prepared to blossom in the hearts of those who will head to Washington to govern the nation. Patriotism itself should guide the larger needs of the nation and infuse a sense of collaboration in all hearts. But the optimism, like the pain of defeat or the ecstasy of victory, also tends to dissipate as the omnipresent tasks ahead of the people are ever larger and more complex in a shrinking World.
The optimist believes the best days are still ahead of the United States. President Obama will be focused on shaping the policy environment that will usher in new jobs, a growing economy, and a shrinking level of military conflict around the World. Of course, the challenges are not easy nor will they be solved overnight. Hopefully, words of optimism and courage shall guide the republic and be a constant companion of political leaders in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
On a personal note, I'm cheering for President Obama because, Like former President Clinton, I believe his policy direction will pay dividends for the great republic. The global economic and security challenges this administration has faced have been historic. The President, however, is not without fault. During his first two years in office, he tended to undervalue the coin of the realm… trust. Trust between Republican and Democrats alike. Politics do not need to be a blood sport. People who do not involve themselves with the machinations of the political intricacies of the beltway believe their representatives are assigned the job of looking after the republic and that they will do that work to great effect.
There will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who, under any pretense, may endeavor to weaken its bonds. The division of political beliefs have spanned ever wider, creating large chasms that may disturb the republic. It is clearly a matter of great peril, that any circumstances should be furnished for characterizing parties by demographic or geographic discrimination.
The manipulative leaders of divisive policy endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of interests and views. This is an expedient manner for a party to acquire influence within particular districts or parties. Altogether too often, they will readily misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts or parties. Citizens should actively shield their hearts against the jealousies and divisiveness that spring from attempts to divide. Such actions render hostilities between citizens who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection.
I point no fingers at any party, instead, I caution people as citizens of the republic, thereby incorporating both the innocuous practitioners and the sublimely effective highly capitalized practitioners for whom financial capacity dwarfs the ability of the average person to compete for an understanding of their opinions. For the republic to be effective, a union of the government for everybody is indispensable and must be demanded of our elected representatives.
Some political entities exist to organize a strong faction, and to endow it with extraordinary force powered by wealth. The danger of such entities is their proclivity to pretend they delegate the will of the republic while representing the will of their own interests. In many cases, such entities are driven by a minority of republic, making the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of their self serving goals. This is in stark contrast to transparent and well thought out plans that are evaluated by common counsels; modified by mutual interests and a sense of the fraternal good for the entire republic.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned political entities will seek to carry a popular issue such that it enhances their ability to become powerful organizations. Their leaders are often cunning and ambitious. Left unchecked, their ability to subvert the power of the people for their own purposes endangers the well being of the republic. It is only through the constant opposition to such extremism that the public good will be served.
The baneful effects of the spirit of political party has, as part and parcel of the very human nature of such organizations, the goal of domination over another. This is sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to opposing parties or political entities. Left unchecked, the miseries imposed over the weaker entity, over time, will incentivize people to seek the security of the absolute power of the party or entity, expressed in our current system as partisan politics and control over key institutions.
Having no recourse, and left to prosper without dissent, leaders of powerful factions, having accumulated more fortune than their competitors, may seek to elevate their powers at the expense of the public good. Let these words stand as a grim reminder that public interest, the very foundations of democracy, become challenged whenever such polarization is allowed to run rampant over the larger needs of the republic and the people. As this election ended, leaders on both sides pontificated the need to work across the aisle and engage each other in the spirit of the public good. May we be fortunate to see these words translated into actions.
I believe the policy issues of the day, such as managing the finances of the republic, restoring geopolitical stability in the Middle East and elsewhere, the restoration of the economic engines that provide jobs, and a thoughtful dialogue about climate change constitute challenges every bit as large as the greatest challenges the republic has ever faced. In few instances, except during the great wars or during the civil war when the cousins battled each other for the very existence of the union itself, has more been at stake for the people of the republic. Accordingly, it is up to the people to demand, through their votes and their constant attention to government, a non-partisan spirit that shall not wane with the passing of some weeks or months.
This applies equally to all parties and political entities, all of which owe their very right to exist to the blood of the patriots shed across the centuries. Let the sacrifice of the many patriots be cherished and valued, for in their sacrifice the republic came to exist and survives to this day. Failure to arrive at political solutions for the overall public good, even at the expense of the power of the political party or entity, is to heap the ultimate disrespect upon the cherished memories of the many patriots who have fought and paid with their blood and with their lives, for the free republic that now faces these challenges.
I wish every success to the President of the United States, to his staff, and to the Congress as the elected representatives of the people. And I'm equally sure that, in the most fundamental sense of patriotic duty, this is also the wish of the people of the republic. I also admonish both parties for their partisan mischief over the last years, and I am very hopeful their desires for the future of the republic can, and shall, be placed above any and all forms of partisan posturing.
As it turns out, this is a rather rare election for me because the President is also my cousin. President Obama and I are 9th cousins, two times removed! I believe I shall, perhaps, write to the President and ask him to send his cousin some inauguration tickets. This will likely be the only chance I ever have to see a cousin sworn in as President of the United States for a second term. But I would also like to look back on such an experience knowing it was also the day a new journey on the path of bi-partisan politics began in Washington.
Interestingly, our common ancestors are from the Canadian side of our family tree that ties us together as cousins. POTUS has Canadian lineage he can be proud of! If I get the inauguration tickets and, possibly, the chance to converse with the President… I'll be sure to point that out to him.
In the meantime, dissolving all such fantasy of inaugural attendance, I turn my attention to the important duties of respecting our honored dead and the glorious living who have made the ultimate contract and compact with their fellow citizens, to defend freedom and liberty at all costs, and to pay any price to insure it, up to and including their own life if necessary. Let those brave men and women occupy our thoughts as we, the free from around the World, gather to remember and honor these brave people. Let us remember they have provided the very democracy where we prosper and thrive. If you know a Veteran, or if you have a Veteran in your family, maybe take a moment to thank them for their service. Those words mean more than you can ever imagine; it was for you whom they dedicated and sacrificed some of the best years of their lives.