Email Ken Stallings   The Times That Try Men's Souls

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One of the nice things about being an American is that one does not lack for available role models.  A quick search through the history of the last 244 years, since this nation was founded by its Declaration of Independence, provides a myriad of suitable people to pattern one's life after.  George Washington continues to be one of the best for many reasons, but perhaps primarily because twice the man walked voluntarily away from total power, that was offered to him on a silver platter.  Once immediately after his forces secured the final victory in the Treaty of Paris, when having beaten Great Britain to ensure the survival of the new nation, Washington made a formal ceremony of literally handing his sword to the Continental Congress and retiring from public life to return to Mount Vernon to a farmer's life.  The second time, was at the end of his second four-year term as the first President under the Constitution, when he could have remained in office for life, with hardly anyone opposing him doing so.

He returned a second time to Mount Vernon, hoping to spend many years again as a private farmer.  History records that the great man instead lived but a brief time before succumbing to disease and dying.  But, with his final voluntary walk away from power,  Washington recorded a vital precedent.  From that point on, no American could ever claim he was indispensable to the nation's future, and therefore needed to remain in power else the nation fail.  To do so, would have immediately brought forward the rebuke, "What, you think you're better than George Washington!"

One should not underestimate the essential role that final act played in ensuring America remained a Constitutional Republic since.

Thomas Payne authored the famous words, about certain times trying the souls of men, and of the sunshine patriot and the summer soldier.  Ironically, he also lived long enough to become a bitter person, and among the very few who objected to Washington remaining President.  This proves that one takes his heroes in measure, that no matter how great they are, they remain men, and subject to the same faults and limitations as anyone.

What do Americans do if the ugly truth is that we can no longer petition at the ballot box to enact the words in our Declaration of Independence, "that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

Payne was entirely right about the events of that winter at Valley Forge trying the souls of men, and entirely right about sunshine patriots shirking from their duties and summer soldiers deserting their posts.  The young America had too many examples of both.  But, America also had George Washington as their leader of its newly minted military, and through a force of will and devotion to duty, somehow the man summoned up the stuff with which to launch a winter offensive across the Delaware River and secure the most strategic and vital military victory in the history of America at Trenton, and one cannot fathom another victory matching up.

As we face the spectacle of a national election that has quite clearly been hijacked by rampant fraud and criminality, to fabricate millions of ballots from thin air, using dusty voter roles to cull out those remaining on them who had not voted in many years (most because they had died), and feeding those names into a computer to gin up mail in ballots, and submit fraudulent absentee voter applications, we now face another time that is trying our souls, and our concept of how we protect this Constitutional Republic from what appears to be a host of domestic enemies.

Every American who has ever had the honor and duty to fill a federal office, has been required to first take an oath of office.  In America, we never take oaths of allegiance to a person, people in general, or any group.  Instead, our oaths are to the Constitution -- a codified set of supreme laws that govern our conduct, limit our actions, and are designed ultimately to check ourselves, so that our actions cannot lead America into a tyrannical nightmare, where government becomes the instrument by which the liberties of the people are abridged.

Nothing in those oaths lack gravitas.  Yet, without question, there is a core section of the oath for all military personnel, that is either verbatim in the oath all swear allegiance to, or at least strongly echoes it.  That core says, "I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same."  Other oaths contain additional requirements, including the oath of President, which includes the requirements to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Assuming that our courts do not issue judicial orders that reverse the current election outcome, and Joe Biden is sworn in as the next President, how does he prepare himself to recite that portion of his oath of office?  Preserving the Constitution first requires that one stand for living one's own life such that he does not derive personal benefit from having undermined the Constitution.  The requirements to vote in federal election is actually written in our Constitution.  Albeit through several amendments, but essentially, all American citizens aged 18 and older are authorized to vote.  The various states also require that one not be a convicted felon, though there are available options for a previously convicted felon to earn his voting rights back.

Regardless, dead people cannot vote, and neither can resident aliens, whether residing in America legally or even illegally.  State and federal law make it a crime for one person to vote more than once, or to vote in a state not his primary residence.  The Constitution also mandates that only the various state legislatures determine the method for voting, not courts.  All executive state officers swear an oath to faithfully discharge their duties in accordance with the Constitution and their state laws.

Nevertheless, multiple election workers in various states, members of the US Post Office, and dozens of poll watchers, have already come forward to make sworn statements, under oath, at having observed actions that violate the federal and state election laws, and courts have even modified state election laws despite the Constitution clearly restricting that right to the just the various state legislatures. 

What do Americans do if the ugly truth is that we can no longer petition at the ballot box to enact the words in our Declaration of Independence, "that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

For generations, Americans have decided that the best way to settle disputes was through our judiciary, to argue our points before the courts and allow the courts to settle the disputes in the best interests of liberty.  We also decided that the best way to abolish our government was to hold an election every two years, to vote for the entire House of Representatives, and a third of the Senate, and every other vote to decide our President.  For generations, we Americans stood firm in our belief that for any American to take up arms and try to settle disputes through violence was a criminal act, and that to use violence to abolish our government was the criminal act of sedition or even treason.

But, what happens when elections are no longer truly free and legal?

There are things far worse for Americans than to lose an election, or to win one.  Among those far worse outcomes, are to secure victory in an election by means considered so alien to the law, as to cause a majority of the people to determine for themselves that the election result was a gross violation of law. 

A post-election poll conducted by Politico found that 70% of Republicans believe that the 2020 election was "neither free, nor fair."  Prior to the election, only 35% of Republicans believed the 2020 election would violate fairness or freedom.  Additionally, 78% of Republicans believe that the mail-in balloting led to widespread voter fraud.  The tragic part is that Democrats headed into the election with 52% thinking the elections would not be free or fair, and now about 90% say it was.

Democrats have for generations petitioned courts to prohibit photo ID used to verify that people standing at a voter precinct were actually the legally registered people they claimed to be.  Heading into this election, the Democrat party petitioned courts to relax even signature verification standards, ushering in a reality that practically anyone could effectively ask for, and receive, even an absentee ballot, much less a mail-in ballot, and successfully fill it out, mail it in, and have it counted.  In many documented cases already, those ballots were submitted by people representing themselves as legally registered voters, acting in the name of people who died several years or even decades prior to the 2020 election!  We have sworn statements from people who say they witnessed mass computer-generated ballots prepared outside precinct counting centers, and then taken to those offices, to be included in the vote tallies.  In all this, there became nothing that would effectively bar a person from casting multiple ballots, perhaps thousands, in multiple states, and turning the 2020 election into a spectacle of illegality, that has perhaps divided the nation for a generation.

When Americans can no longer settle their referendums for its government at the ballot box, has it reached the point where the only means left available is for Americans to harken back to July 1776, and decide to do it through force of arms?  A civil war is far worse than losing an election, and far worse than winning one through means that a majority of the nation concludes is illegal.  Power is not worth obtaining by illegal means, and only a tyrant would desire to obtain power in such a manner.  Tyranny is never defeated through force of logic and persuasion, but by force of arms, or better still, by effective laws empowered by virtuous people committed to upholding those laws above all else.  When the law thereby fails, what else is left for the virtuous?

Our souls are being tried.  Our restraint is being tested.  Our trust in our own government is being strained.  We seem to be two nations now, one that puts its faith first in the Constitution, and the other that thinks power derived by any means is good.  For over 200 years, America has endured but one civil war, and its execution and aftermath was so terrible, that it was unthinkable that a second would ever wage.  Now, reasonable people are starting to openly wonder if we are now living in an era of a second such cataclysm, not fought over ending such a despicable institution as slavery, but instead, to protect and preserve our Constitution from fellow Americans who seem to hate what it says, hate even more those who wrote it, and most critically, hate those today who hold oaths to protect it.

-- Ken Stallings

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