Happy Warriors

Last night amid the typical venom and vitriol circulating on political twitter, a tweet from Congressman Thomas Massey stuck out among the angry clamor. Massey posted a photo of himself smiling ear to ear in front of the Capitol, with the hashtag “#HappyWarrior.” Especially interesting, the mantra now taken on by ultraconservative Massey was first made famous by the great Democrat Al Smith, when FDR delivered his nominating speech at the 1926 Democrat Convention.

What we saw last night on the debate stage was a war, but there was little happiness, and it reminded the viewer just how much politics have changed since the days of The Happy Warrior and FDR. The spectacle brought to mind a quote from Mr. Rogers, “Our society is much more interested in information than wonder, in noise rather than silence…And I feel that we need a lot more wonder and a lot more silence in our lives.” It was certainly not a high point in the history of presidential politics. While no sane republican would go back to the era of gentile Bush family politics, a time when we rolled over at the first dirty trick or attack from the left or media, last night was nearly devoid of any measure of respect or decorum. While that says something about President Trump and Vice President Biden, it says much more about the appetites of the American people.

At times like these it is difficult to remain positive. I think supporters of both candidates can agree that last night did not exemplify the best in us. The two men fighting for the position of most powerful man in the world were squabbling just like many of us squabble behind our screens on twitter and Facebook. It does not inspire hope, until one remembers that there is a greater, ultimate power that will outlast all of this. The apostle Paul writes in Ephesians that at the right time, everything in heaven and earth will be brought under the authority of Christ. Every knee will now, and that includes Trump and Biden.

Conservatism and Christianity are not synonymous, and I detest when politicians ”wrap Jesus in the flag”, but they do have an age old correlation. How do we remain positive, undeterred by the mired field before us? We revert back to the core tenets of conservatism, a system of beliefs that is illuminated and structured by the belief in divine providence. Conservatives believe that man was not put on this earth to conquer it and bend it to his will through his own might. We do not believe that through the intellect and powers of man, we will some day erect some earthly utopia free of racism, sickness and poverty. We know that one day that world is coming, but not in this lifetime. We cling to the truth in this life we will face hardships, but we rest in the peace and knowledge that there is one greater who has overcome them. We know that there is nothing new under the sun, and that although these days are discouraging, we know it has been far worse, and this season will pass. Just as Al Smith is now mostly forgotten, so too one day will this episode be.

It is so easy to become embittered and disengaged from politics in today’s world, but that is not our duty. We, conservatives, are to be Happy Warriors, people who recognize the severity and seriousness of our national dilemma, but who fight the darkness of humanism with timeless truth and a message that inspires hope. We take heart in the knowledge that the government is not America, we are America. We remain as we were in 1630, when John Winthrop’s boat touched down at Massachusetts bay, A Shining City Upon a Hill. It is time we remembered that, and began to act like it again.

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