Happy Thursday TAT readers,
First for today is to let you know, that I have been back in Rhode Island and the Boston area for a few days. A great deal was crammed into a few days. It began with meeting some of our think tank, Narrative Strategies’ team regarding one of this year’s primary focuses, protecting the 2020 election from foreign and domestic influence threats such as mis and disinformation. Then came something personal that I’m excited about, the rerelease of my book about protecting the 2020 election, Modern Day Minutemen and Women or how to save the 2020 election.
I am reissuing the book, with a new fresh look and from a brilliant new publisher, along with a new introduction. I do this for the same reason as 2020, to support protecting our elections. There is not one thing political in it. It centers on how broken our national security community is regarding protecting the nation from adversarial influencers, why we are at threat and what to do about it.
Finally, this brings me to the last thing accomplished over the span of a few days. History and government are both professional and personal passions of mine. It is impossible to be back in this part of New England, and not feel the warmth and inspiration of our founding history. As I note from time to time, my dad was also passionate about these topics and in fact, taught both in public schools, before moving up the ladder in public education. You might say that these topics are part of my DNA.
The focus of this short TAT from here on, looks at how American democracy would be standing strongly against the MAGA attempt to destroy it, if only more of us better understood the basics of American democracy. I’m not suggesting that we all must be historians, but I am insisting on enough knowledge that everyone would realize that the MAGA agenda, is the biggest threat to US democracy since the Civil War. Tragically, the Confederacy’s White Christian Nationalism designed to support the oligarchies of the South’s cotton industry primarily, is near synonymous with today’s MAGA controlled Republican Party in support of all manner of corporate and personal oligarchs.
I won’t spend the rest of this article giving everyone a history lesson, but instead, tell you how inspiring it is to live in a nation born of a passionate and courageous dedication, to some basic but revolutionary principles for its time. Things like human rights via the Scottish Enlightenment, is one of these.
In a long TAT article a month ago, I lay out a detailed and accurate case for declaring our founders, the most “woke” and progressive advocates for inalienable human rights. If you have time and interest, it is one of my personal favorite pieces since beginning TAT. The title is, “Our Founding Fathers were “Woke” and also radical progressives for their time.”
I am not making a case for the meaning of “progressive” in modern terms, but I am making the case for the fact that our founding principles, were and still are, the cutting edge of governance, that ensconces inalienable rights as the very core of its values. What the MAGA crowd is trying to deprive us of is precisely what our founders intended for us to have. Guns, God and Trump, are NOT our founding values. From a historical point of view, our founding values are very much what Jefferson wrote into our Declaration of Independence, despite the fact that slavery would stand for nearly another century.
While in Newport, Rhode Island, my hotel was across the street from the Touro Synagogue. The reason I mention this is that Washington, newly sworn in as our first president wrote, in August of 1790, a letter to the congregation of the Synagogue that resounds with all Americans to this day. It confirms Washington’s dedication to the principle that America, was to respect and protect the religious freedom of everyone, without exception. The story of his letter is short, and Washington expressed perfectly in 340 words, the core value of America endorsing the concept of no state religion, and the protection of all religious beliefs. Americans by tradition and constitutional rights, permit no bigotry or prejudice for anyone’s religious beliefs nor puts anyone’s over another.
TO THE HEBREW CONGREGATION IN NEWPORT RHODE ISLAND Gentlemen: While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens. The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security. If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people. The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy. G. Washington
While in Boston, I passed the gates to Harvard University, whose alumni had sown some of the most fervent support for and defense of, the coming revolution and its principles.
Boston was a center of revolutionary fervor. John Adams practiced law there, including the defense of the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre. Much to the disfavor of many Bostonians, Adams successfully defended the troops, standing on the legal principles that became American law, that all deserved a fair trial and were innocent until proven guilty. It took courage and a strict adherence to the principles that our nation would become famous for. Ironically, Harvard was evacuated of students, professors and staff, in order to provide Harvard Yard as the base for the new Continental Army. The students and staff, relocated to Concord where they began their studies anew after summer vacation.
No less than eight Harvard alumni signed the Declaration of Independence and of which, the names most familiar are John Adams, Samuel Adams and of course John Hancock. At Boston’s crucial harbor, patriots threw British tea into the harbor in a demonstration of resistance to heavy-handed British rule. In the immediate area, we include Concord and Lexington where the Revolution began in earnest, with the “shot heard round the world.”
Up and down the Eastern Seaboard and in varying degrees, revolution stirred men’s souls, but it was the northeastern seaboard that was the heart of a body, slowly stirring towards revolution and liberty. When I walk the towns and fields of historical places, such as I had the opportunity to again this week, that particular heartbeat still stirs me, not to revolution but to stand like the minutemen on Lexington Common, to safeguard, what they had revolted against the British monarchy to acquire.
As Thomas Ricks points out in one his recent books, First Principles, most Americans, regardless of education were familiar with the identities of Roman theater, literature and history, that showcased different virtues regarding “the Republic.” They knew who sold out the republic (Lucius Sergius Catilina, a corrupt Roman so much like Trump) and who answered the call to protect it and Rome. See here august figures like Cicero and Cincinnatus. It is often said by scholars that it was Washington himself, who molded his character on that of Cincinnatus. Today’s American citizens have the opportunity at their fingertips to be well informed about our founding principles but choose rather to listen to political pied pipers leading them to their demise as patriots. Only those with the courage and adherence to moral national values, can aspire to the identity of a Cincinnatus.
Cincinnatus and the characteristics he demonstrated—humility, unselfish personal sacrifice, commitment to the public welfare, and the subordination of the military to civilian rule—were admired and emulated by the leaders of the American Revolution. They believed that these characteristics were essential to the survival of republican government. George Washington, who refused to accept a salary for leading the Continental Army and conducted himself with humility and in strict subordination to the will of Congress, was widely celebrated as an American Cincinnatus. The founders of the Society referred to themselves as "Cincinnati"—a plural form of the name Cincinnatus—to indicate their commitment to the virtues of the Roman hero. - The Society of the Cincinnati
Today’s MAGA movement follows their Pied Piper, that has managed with the assistance of Russian and US professional influencers, to replace the virtues of Cincinnatus with an entirely and opposite version. Today’s MAGA definition of patriotism has via influence operations, imposed these fake virtues on the current version of the Republican Party. Today’s GOP is controlled by MAGA, which is best defined as a mob of fake patriots, conned into believing in fake definitions of patriotism. This does not include those who consider themselves “principled conservatives. Those real conservatives though, have zero voice in today’s GOP. The Party itself, has put real conservatives, “out-to-pasture.”
Those doing the conning are professional influencers working with media like FOX News, Breitbart, NewsMax, and the endless supply of faux news sites, spewing propaganda, 24/7. It’s too late to educate these brainwashed Americans prior to our election in November but we must reinvest in Civics classes at an ever-younger age. We must also begin teaching media literacy at an even earlier age.
Trudging again, the historical paths of my heroes and their gifts to our democracy, stirred my heart this week. Once again, the moral lessons taught in history books by these heroes, flowed through my veins with fresh vigor and commitment. Every generation of Americans must not only know our history but must be taught its meaning and price. It is the only way to rebuild our national resilience that has come under assault by those who would destroy our republic.
The comparison of engaging average citizens in the northeast this week, to my hometown in Texas, was startling. There was no extreme caution about speaking truth, not in a political manner but by simply discussing reality. It seems these days that whatever the topic, it triggers an all-too-often, tense political response or an uncomfortable silence, hence barrier to communication. There was no opposition to truth or critical thinking. Experiencing this was another breath of fresh air. It’s not that everyone in the NE is left of the far-right modern GOP, but for at least a few days, there was no conversation that initiated some unfounded and dramatic reaction to discussing January 6th or the role of Russian influence operations in the current extremist ideology that serves as the GOP platform or agenda.
Reading famous quotes by my founding hero’s and walking the ground where scholarly leaders debated passionately, how to craft a revolutionary republic based on enshrining human rights, renewed my sense of purpose in partial retirement. I felt our founders’ rationale for a republic rather than a pure democracy. Pure democracy can easily turn into an orderly version of mob rule. Yes, those priceless lessons, learned in my father’s library, once again seeped into my heart, lately exhausted in resisting the fake patriotism that, now poses a real threat to our republic. This was the right time and place for me to stiffen the spine, that we will all need this tempestuous election year. In the Trump era, such elections are not politics, it is national security that is on the ballot.
I could easily turn this topic into a book series but will not. We touch down in less than an hour just short of midnight and it is time to simply recharge overnight, in my own bed. Pursuing and sustaining our democracy requires rest and tomorrow, I will bring you another TAT.
My very best to all of you and thank you for patiently reading this short personal piece, rather than the usual. I simply thought that sharing my week’s story, may inspire you folks a bit as well.