On July 4, it is fitting to remember that American independence was won by brave, ordinary men and women and also leaders of remarkable courage, foresight and brilliance.
Without Patrick Henry and Sam Adams, the spirit of revolt might never have emerged. Without George Washington, the war for independence might never have succeeded. And without the pantheon of Founding Fathers, the Constitution, whose meaning we still debate, certainly would never have been written.
Their feats are all the more amazing when we remember they had no primer for revolution against the world’s greatest empire, let alone one for construction of a modern republican government. We laud, as we should, the common man and the worth of every individual, but without leadership the potential of ordinary men goes untapped.
It’s easy to sell ourselves short in comparison to the country that fought for independence. Nevertheless, the bravery and resilience of today’s all-volunteer military is not in doubt.
Despite what Donald Trump tells you about us continually “losing,” we remain the world’s superpower. Our people are the most generous and inventive on the planet.
And yet informed citizenship and responsible leadership are in short supply.
Popular frustration has manifested itself as nihilism and intolerance, a flight from reason and the comity a functioning democracy requires. Without leaders equal to the task, we descend into acrimony, meanness and dysfunction.
No one would expect a Washington or Jefferson to emerge in our time, but then we don’t need men and women of that august stature.
We simply need leaders unafraid of being hooted down by the mob; politicians who understand this is not just any election but also a test of our democratic values; and candor from respected conservatives.
Simple declarations from esteemed Republicans of Trump’s unfitness and of the obligation of convention delegates to vote their conscience could well set off a revolt in Cleveland, an effort to recapture the party’s sanity and remain true to our democratic traditions.
Too much to ask? Let’s hope today’s leaders are inspired by Independence Day and are worthy custodians of what remains the world’s greatest democracy.