The word “pusillanimous” has come to my mind a lot lately. “The American Heritage Dictionary” says it means “lacking courage; lacking strength and firmness of mind; faint-hearted; timid.” I first heard the word back in middle school during a video recreation of a Patrick Henry speech. Although we use the word very seldom compared to Colonial times, I do think the word is appropriate to certain recent activities within the Republican Party.
At our State Central Committee (SCC) meeting on June 27, the SCC voted to hold an “unassembled” state convention. Several of us pled for an assembled convention because, among many other reasons, we need to challenge as totally inappropriate a Democratic governor dictating when and how Republican committees perform their political functions. Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) Chairman Jack Wilson replied that our Governor has the legal right to trample our constitutional freedoms and deny our First Amendment “right of the people peaceably to assemble.” In other words, we are in surrender mode.
Patrick Henry – who later became Virginia’s first and sixth governor – gave a speech on March 23, 1775, to the Virginia House of Burgesses in which he spoke very clearly about such surrender to dictators: “If we wish to be free… if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight!”
Wilson told the SCC that the RPV had not taken the Governor to court because litigation would cost $90,000 dollars and “we need to spend that on electing candidates.” I have never been so frustrated with political claptrap. If the RPV is only a fundraising group then we need to call ourselves a political action committee and not a political party. But if we in fact speak for conservatives in the Commonwealth, then we need to stand up on our hind legs, speak our truth, and use our resources to fight against these egregious violations of our constitutional rights. That fight is worthy of our funds. We gain nothing by waiting, by being conciliatory, by going along to get along.
Patrick Henry was, in that same 1775 speech, very eloquent on this point: “They tell us, sir, that we are weak – unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger?… Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?”
The RPV needs to be the lighthouse of conservative principles in Virginia, but we seem to be little more than a glow stick. Even our own Sixth District should have challenged the Governor in court weeks ago when we decided to have an assembled convention, but Chairman Jennifer Brown thinks and votes in lockstep with Wilson. And now, instead of getting the Governor out of our business, Chairman Brown is trying to jerk our convention around at the last minute to suit the whims of a powerful Democrat. Patrick Henry noted: “Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power…. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no [choice]. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery!”
Some might call my comments over dramatic, but I remind you of Venezuela, once the most vibrant economy in South America, but now socialism has turned it into the most likely place for citizens to either starve or be murdered. The same Socialist masterminds who ruined Venezuela have targeted the U.S. – while we spend our efforts appeasing an out of control governor rather than preparing for the coming battles for our very way of life.
Patrick Henry concludes his speech with these famous words: “Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”
Unfortunately, the American public has become so comfortable that we don’t see the need to fight. Equally unfortunately, if we don’t fight for our freedoms, we will lose all our comforts. Patrick Henry must be rolling in his grave hard enough to make the ground tremble. I would rather cause a political, moral, spiritual earthquake while I’m alive. And I would much rather have leaders who will stand up and fight for what’s right than have those who merely organize a long, drawn out surrender.
Steve “Doc” Troxel, Ph.D.