Theodore Roosevelt on tomorrow’s election

Yes, I know Theodore Roosevelt is long dead.  Nevertheless, a speech he gave at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1903 contains these words.  They resonate deeply with me.  I think they sum up what tomorrow’s election should be all about, but largely is not . . . because we’ve allowed the truth of his words to leach away into the dust of history.

In the century opening, the play of the infinitely far-reaching forces and tendencies which go to make up our social system bids fair to be even fiercer in its activity than in the century which has just closed. If during this century the men of high and fine moral sense show themselves weaklings; if they possess only that cloistered virtue which shrinks shuddering from contact with the raw facts of actual life; if they dare not go down into the hurly-burly where the men of might contend for the mastery; if they stand aside from the pressure and conflict; then as surely as the sun rises and sets, all of our great material progress, all the multiplication of the physical agencies which tend for our comfort and enjoyment, will go for naught, and our civilization will become a brutal sham and mockery.

If we are to do as I believe we shall and will do, if we are to advance in broad humanity, in kindliness, in the spirit of brotherhood, exactly as we advance in our conquest over the hidden forces of nature, it must be by developing strength in virtue and virtue in strength, by breeding and training men who shall be both good and strong, both gentle and valiant men who scorn wrongdoing, and who at the same time have both the courage and the strength to strive mightily for the right.

I know he speaks of men rather than women, but please excuse that.  He spoke in an age where female emancipation was far from accomplished.  His words apply just as well to both sexes as they do to one.

Ask yourself how his words square with the candidates available for our selection tomorrow.  None of them measure up to them in full;  but some fall so woefully short of those standards that they make a mockery of everything Theodore Roosevelt stood for.  Let’s not vote for them, for his sake . . . and our own.


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