Adolph Adams’ campaign had been off to a slow start.
But as the wind stirred his bones in this cold Nebraska autumn, he finally came to believe that the Project of America, the Project of Individualism, might just about be salvageable.
The campaign trail was hardly a trail of ‘creative destruction.’ Then again, his deeply uncharismatic nomination rival, Seamus Riddle of the Democratic Establishment (or indeed bipartisan Establishment, if you prefer) was hardly all that. He could hardly capture the imagination of even the most casual and languid of part-time patriots.
Part-time being about once in a four-year slumber.
Adolph stood up and calmly surveyed the audience. ‘Like sheep without a shepherd,’ he seemed to glimpse Saul breathing down his neck.
‘Go with me, Brother,’ Adolph reverently whispered.
This time, things were going to happen.
He raised his hands to the even, and he began to preach. The warm, mellifluous, yet perfectly-controlled cadences of his virtue washed over the people like a warm, refreshing salt bath.
Deborah lowered her eyes and wept. She could not help repeating the old, yet never quite fully dusty words of life and death and most of all, that hideous rank indifference:
But if the salt be trampled underfoot, what good is it to any of us?
From the beginning of time to the end of eternity, every government has promised its citizens that it will take away their fear; that no matter what threats and perils they encounter in this life, there is a guiding hand behind them that will strike down all their enemies, and return to bless, and to comfort; to caress.
No matter who is against us, the government will be for us; no matter who oppresses and tortures, the state will wipe away our tears; no matter how we are threatened, insulted, mocked, attacked and wantonly massacred, there is but one in Heaven, Earth or Hell in whom we may put our trust; be they Pharaoh or Solomon, Christ or the Devil, Aragorn or Lord Sauron, Czar or Worker’s Führer , there is always one, and only one, who will drive away our anxiety and terror, and make the deserts bloom.
This is the oldest story of our species, the most time-honored, ageless and venerable legend of our race; the most footworn and august lullaby of the ages.
And it is the first and only lie.
The King, the Priest, the Prophet does not exist only for your benefit, no matter what you are told.
Not all governors, not all leaders are alike, it is true; but the first and last temptation of every leader is to seek their own benefit; the profit of one person alone (with or without rent-seeking panders and convenient collaborators) ever has, and ever will be, the standard and universal criterion of government.
It is for this reason, that it is not the quality of the timber on which the stability of the temple of Liberty depends.
God forbid, or if it is more congenial, Liberty forbid!
For whether or not there is any God in this world, we know Liberty; we have seen him, our hands have felt him, she has supped at our table, we have heard her voice.
We may not all agree on whether there is a God, and if God is Liberty; but of a certainty, this at least shall be said, and I proclaim, this day and evermore:
‘Liberty is the Divine, and all that falls short of liberty tends towards the demonic.’
It is true that there is no perfect Liberty in this life; for aught that we know, there may be no perfect Liberty anywhere in this hallowed cosmos!
But if the table is half-empty, and the children moan, the elders grimace, and the parents hold their heads in despair; yet even then, for all that, we do not refuse to eat.
It is better to die with a crumb of meagre Liberty than to gorge on a fatted calf in an orgy of Security.
Yet, while Liberty is indeed ever frail and fleeting, Security is no more so.
The difference, perhaps, lies in the fact that the defenders of Liberty as the bedrock of all prosperity and wellbeing have always been few, and the propagators of Security at an any price have always been many.
Throughout history, there have only ever been two: the Party of Liberty and the Party of Security.
And of these immortal and irreconcilable foes, one cannot simply elect one, bref! …
And vainly surmise to possess the other.
One who desires Security above all things will lose everything else, and will not even have the elusive prize they grasp.
The one infallible way of losing all hope of Security, perhaps for ever, is to prize it above Liberty, and above all the other things which make life good, and beautiful, and worthy.
Whereas one who prizes Liberty above all things will not be promised all things, as of right; but the door to pursuing whatever makes their lives happy, hopeful and prosperous will be left half ajar.
This may sound like a meagre hope to some, but it is the dream of the ages.
Do not mock and cast aside lightly what countless thousands, millions and billions throughout history have prized above all things; through the hideous Gehenna of abject despair, and amid the first, faint, equivocal daysprings of dawn.
What means so little to you has meant everything in the world to those who were not fortunate enough to see your days.
What you mock and ridicule, if not in words, at least by your deeds; this is what countless multitudes of the maimed, the weak, the bleeding have desired above all things; they who had the dignity to count themselves better than their benevolent oppressors; for if they had nothing else, they had at least the dignity to dream.
Mona would have told you the rest; but her dreamy eyes had closed in bliss; swooning in wonder, at the ever-emergent possibility of The Impossible Dreams.
Others too were sleeping; but we shall not disturb those dry, dry bones for now.
Let the dead bury their dead!
For life is for We, the Living.