Our Responsibility for the Soul of the GOP

Republican Party at a Crossroads

The struggle for the heart soul and the future of the Republican party is real and is divisive. The Republican party is at one of its most difficult crossroads since its founding. Two factions are fighting for control of the party and its future. Some question rather the party has a future based on its present trajectory given the demographic shifts taking place in the US and the radicalization of Trump loyalist that have controlled the direction of the party the last 4 years.

But four years after winning the presidency, Trump and Republicans are now on the outside looking in, having lost control of the House, the Senate, and the White House. A fight to define the future of the Republican Party is playing out among a small, but influential, group of Republicans, even as Trump remains central to the party and to its identity. He keeps trying to assert his influence, but it is waning as time passes from his presidency.

The heart and soul of the party is in conflict by the two competing sets of ideology – Trumpian ideology and true conservatism. Groups and old guard party leaders like the Bushes, Cheney’s, McCains, the Lincoln Group, George Will, and others represent the old guard conservatives. What those on the outside and within are viewing is a war for the go forward path for the party.

That infighting is a war that is very visible to the outside world, and many believe the Trumpian ideologists are winning the war. Are they?

At first peak it would appear they are as they are loud, radicalized, utilizing visuals and demonstrations in radical formats, and gaining media attention. What is being fought is a war of ideology, but the tactics are changed from ideological wars of the past.

To an outsider it would appear the old guard is fighting the war using 19th Century ideals and wanting to fight a gentleman’s war verses the Trump ideologs fighting with guerilla tactics. To an outsider is almost appears and has been compared to the American Revolution.

The old guard British fought at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, using the standard tactics of war used on the battlefields of Europe.  This called for large formations of men to be lined up three deep.  They engaged the enemy in open fields and exchanged fire.  Part of the British strategy required the use of certain battlefield weapons.  The most used weapon for a British soldier during the war was consisted of Brown Bess (75 caliber 3/4 of an inch in diameter), cannons, and bayonets.

The tactics of the British were not designed to shoot down the enemy until retreat, but to break up the organized lines so your side could then march forward, in an organized and linear fashion, and charge with the bayonet. A disorganized unit cannot stand against an organized bayonet charge.

The war for the soul of the Republican party by the old guard some would argue is a fight like the British colonial fight. They are using old school tactics and trying to fight a gentlemanly war for the ideology of the Republican party.

On the other hand, we see the Trump ideologs. They are fighting the public relations war verbally, loud and in an obnoxious and rambunctious format some would say they are fighting using guerilla war tactics.

Francis Marion, otherwise known as Swamp Fox, was a Revolutionary officer during the Revolution. He is well known today as the Father of Guerrilla Warfare for introducing and bringing guerrilla fighting tactics into the war.

 The British had a much greater advantage in terms of weapons, abilities, and numbers. Militias had no change against them with their lack of supplies and military experience. However, commander Francis Marion changed that by planning secret guerrilla attacks against the British. While the British troops had supplies, strength, and order, the American rebels compensated with their creativity and wits. Compared to large, fully armed armies, guerrilla groups are generally small packs of fighters. They are not equipped with any uniforms, weapons, or other useful resources; instead, they scavenge for whatever weapons they can find. They use the land around them for resources like food and shelter, whereas professional soldiers are provided with all these necessities.

The traditional fighting tactics of the time meant meeting the enemy in open field ready to battle. Marion and his men, however, knew they could not do this because they would not stand a chance against such well trained and equipped soldiers. Marion took a different approach and fought his enemy using stealth and secrecy. The British never expected these attacks because it went against the unwritten rules of war. Secret ambushes were not something anyone during the war could expect. For this reason, guerrillas could do a lot of damage to their enemy. And because the groups were always moving, it was exceedingly difficult for the enemy to catch them.

Some say that Donald Trump and his team are the guerrilla fighters in the war for the ideology of the Republican party. His team and his followers have become the master of disruption and manipulation. They learned to make up facts and to craft and spin a story on social media and if it is repeated loudly and enough then it becomes the storyline and assumed as factual by the masses.

From a romanticization of history and the ideals of the founding of the republic one would think at first glance that the guerilla methodology will win the war, and that the fight they are fighting, is just and noble, but broad public opinion is turning against the cause. The more silent majority is tiring of the hysteria, conspiracies, and lack of intellectual dialog.

An underestimated element, within the ideological fight for the soul, and go forward path of the Republican party is what most political scientists and polished politicians know, that is the party has within it the “silent majority.” What is the silent majority?

The headlines in the ideological fight for the party are crafted by those that scream loud, stage rallies, post crazed memes’, proclaiming extremist statements on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.

What is not always recognized is most of the party is made up of centrist, traditional conservatives, and independents.

During the presidential election cycle the mouthpiece of the party was the Trump ideologs.

Now, in the post Trump era that “silent majority” is becoming more and more uncomfortable with the divisive actions and speech and the nonsense of science deniers by this element as the true conservatives are working to claw their way back and save the party.

The Mitt Romney’s and Liz Cheney’s of the party are being portrayed by Trumpian ideologists as out of step with the party and out of step with the populist ideals the party represents. But are they?

The party is a party of with a history of conservative ideology. Few, of the Trump influenced leadership that now controls many of the nations’ central committees and the ideology of the party even understand the roots of the conservative movement or what true conservatism is.

Polling shows that Trump enthusiasts actually only represent fewer than 30% of register Republican voters, but their media presence makes it appear, they are the majority, versus the fact that there is a more silent responsible majority.

A history lesson on conservatism:

Conservatism is an aesthetic, cultural, social, and political philosophy, which seeks to promote and to preserve traditional social institutions. The Republican party has traditionally held the political views that favor free enterprise, private ownership, and socially traditional ideas.

At least that was until the Trump machine took the lead of the party. Now the fight that exists between the Trump ideology and true conservatism. But how did conservatism and its marriage to the Republican party begin?

In 1955, William F. Buckley, Jr., wrote that the purpose of his newly founded magazine National Review was to “stand athwart history yelling stop.” The phrase belongs to modern conservatism, which defies the dark, incoming tide of liberalism. Interestingly, only one of the conservative heroes mentioned in this essay, Edmund Burke (1729-1797), had the self-conscious idea that he was standing athwart the tides of history. That is one reason why he was the first truly modern conservative.

Burke looked at the French Revolution and realized that the tide of the times was flowing in the wrong direction. Before the Revolution, France had a brilliant culture and provided cultural leadership to the West. The Revolution inflicted such profound damage to the culture and social fabric of France that French society and culture never entirely recovered its former glory and brilliance. For those who cared about civilization and high culture, the French Revolution was a catastrophe.

Although Burke pronounced bitter anathemas on the French revolutionaries – who destroyed a culture in the name of abstract theory – he was sympathetic to the American Founding Fathers, who fought to preserve the rights of Englishmen. He used his influence as a member of parliament to promote conciliation with the American colonies.

When William F. Buckley burst onto the national scene in 1955, conservatism was a dead letter in American politics, as some would argue it is dying now, under the ideology of Trumpism trying to suppress it.

“Lots of people thought that it was outdated, anachronistic, prehistoric, foolish, not very intelligent,” Carl Bogus was once quoted on All Things Considered by host Guy Raz.

Bogus is the author of a biography, Buckley: William F. Buckley and the Rise of American Conservatism. He says that back in the 1950s and ’60s, there really was an established liberal elite in America, which controlled both political parties.

Buckley set out to change that. As a Yale graduate, he published a book called God and Man at Yale, which took the university to task for failing to promote Christianity and free market economics.

He collapsed in that book religion, economics and political ideology,” producing the mix of ideas we recognize today as conservatism: free-market capitalism, support for American military actions, libertarianism, and social conservatism.

“It was Buckley who made that coalition. He held within him all … of those beliefs. He was what today we call a neoconservative, a social conservative and a libertarian.”

Building on the prestige of his first two books, Buckley founded National Review in 1955. He staffed the journal with talented intellectuals. Buckley’s and National Review’s articulation of an intellectually coherent conservatism, as well as its sharp and often witty criticism of the eccentricities and intellectual laziness of the dominant liberalism of the era, soon earned it a large audience on the right as well as massive hostility from the left. By the end of the 1950s, National Review was easily the preeminent journalistic voice of conservatism and one not easily dismissed by liberals.

Buckley and The National Review acted as gatekeepers of conservatism, excluding those ideas and groups they considered extremist, nutty, or dangerous. Among those considered unworthy of inclusion in modern conservatism were anti-Semites, white supremacists, the extremist anti-communists of the John Birch Society, and Ayn Rand and her ideology of hyper-capitalism combined with hyper-atheism. Note each of those groups were embraced into Trumpian ideology of the modern era thus the clash of the old guard Republican Conservativism verses the Trumpian ideologs of today.

Within national Republican politics, Buckley supported the 1964 candidacy of Senator Barry Goldwater, first for the Republican Party nomination (successfully) and then in the general election for the presidency (unsuccessfully). Buckley was only mildly enthusiastic about Republican Richard Nixon, initially supporting his presidency in 1969 but breaking with it in 1971, over Nixon’s pursuit of detente with the Soviet Union and Communist China and his attempt to establish a government-funded national minimum income.  

(Note a government funded national minimum income is not a new Democratic nor Biden creation of socialism but was first introduced in concept by Republican President Richard Nixon.)

In 1973, Nixon appointed Buckley to the post of American delegate to the United Nations.

Buckley was an early backer of Ronald Reagan for the presidency, first in Reagan’s unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination in 1976 and then in his successful campaign for the nomination and the presidency in 1980. Buckley later wrote a book about his long friendship with Reagan: The Reagan I Knew (2008). Some view the Reagan presidency as the pinnacle of the conservative movement and that there has not been conservative leadership in this nation since and as such the Republican party has lost its way thus opening the door to Trumpian ideology due to it being a party that lost its way.

Regardless of what factions eventually take the leadership of the Republican party as it limps along to the 2022 mid-terms one this is for sure; Americans waiting for the Republican Party to return to “normal” by historical standards, waiting for “traditional” Republicans to be guided by the better angels of their nature, that party of yesterday is NOT going to happen. And if playing a waiting game to sit back watch and remain silent then that wait is going to be lengthy.

In his 2012 book “Coming Apart,” conservative sociologist Charles Murray portrays the white poor in terms he once reserved for African Americans, describing them as a socially disorganized, economically dependent, culturally deficient, and even genetically debased population. It is no coincidence that Trump’s strongest support comes from working-class Republicans who feel their whiteness no longer protects them and that is the honest root to Trumpian ideology.

What now for the GOP?

Per Joseph Lowndes, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Oregon

“In every polarized era, one or two key problems become the lens through which all others are viewed. In this Second Gilded Age, these are perhaps the twinned issues of excessive wealth and economic abandonment. Yet unlike the leaders of past populist revolts however, Trump seems less a champion of working people than a figure who confirms their debased status. Having titled his campaign memoir Crippled America, the then candidate reveled in such terms as “disgust,” “weakness,” “losing,” and “pathetic.” And of course he was the star of a reality show whose tag line was “You’re fired.”

Trump’s followers respond less to appeals to their value as producers, which in a financialized economy seems nostalgic anyway, than to brutal rage against immigrants and Muslims, who along with establishment elites are seen as the authors of their misery.

Delegitimizing elections, authoritarianism, cult of personality, white supremacy, destroying trusted institutions, ignoring the Constitution, flouting the rule of law. That is Trumpism. That is the Republican Party at present but several do hold out hope that the silent majority has about had enough from the 30% that Trump has indoctrinated and that the middle, the true conservatives the real American Patriots that get up every day go to work, raise a diverse and respectful family that those diverse patriots of the silent majority will again rise up and say, enough is enough and reassert their base of power.

Most Americans are now decades into an era of stagnant or declining wages. A Princeton study on rising morbidity and mortality rates among non-college-educated whites is merely one indicator of the physical and psychic costs of this abandonment. Yet these white middle and working-class Americans who are getting left behind are dismissed by conservative elites and thus the divide of the Republican party that allowed the opportunity for Trumpism it exist and thrive. And thrive it does primarily in rural and poor or depressed areas. Alamogordo, Mexico peaked in the 1960s and early 70’s due to the investments and technologies in Space and missile defense. Since then, it has slipped and is just of hundreds of examples of towns that were once centers of innovation, science and technology and now are strongholds of Trumpian ideology despite its progressive history.

Time and circumstance can yet move Republicans in new directions. Demographics could shift the GOP to the wayside. Time and demographic trends favor the Democrats over the next decade. But rejuvenating the party will depend on examples of leadership, vision and a base ready to reembrace conservatism’s highest ideals. There are groups trying to mobilize those conservative ideals of a proud party that represents the big tent of George Bush Jr. and the optimism of Ronald Reagan. Groups such as the Lincoln Group, Retake Republicanism and others are fighting for the soul of a GOP to ensure that demographics and extreme ideology of Trumpism to not move it to irrelevance over the next 2 decades.

In 2016, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild, whose book “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right” documented her journey deep into conservative country, Louisiana, and said that a key to understanding the tea party and later Trump voters was that many felt “dishonored” and “disrespected” by those in power. They saw in Trump a warrior to battle on their behalf, someone who would bring a gun to a cultural knife fight.

But Trump’s most profound imprint on the Republican Party is in effect, in disposition, in temperament. Republicans, time and again, accommodated themselves to Trump’s corruptions; as a result, they became complicit in them. By the end of the Trump administration much of the Republican Party was animated by cultural and class resentments, gripped by fear and implicated in Trump’s brand of politics.

In some cases, Republicans have been led down strange and dark paths. For example, nearly 30% of Republicans believe the fantastical claims by QAnon that “Donald Trump has been secretly fighting a group of child sex traffickers that include prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites.” It is no surprise that with the help of powerful Republicans like Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right conspiracy theorist, was elected to the House of Representatives.

“They just legitimized a person that used tactics I would say 10 years ago, even five years ago, would have been abhorrent to the Republican Party,” Elizabeth Neumann, a former assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security in the Trump administration, observed. “But … they know they can’t condemn that behavior because they know the base loves it.”

The danger for the GOP is that those who hope to succeed Trump could lead the party into even more appalling places, since there are indications from focus groups that post-2020 election, a sizable group of Trump voters are more inclined to embrace conspiracy theories and they are becoming more, not less, extreme.

Importantly, there are several influential figures within the Republican Party who are determined to see the GOP move beyond Trump, and they have this argument on their side: The Republican Party at the national level has been shut out of power after a single Trump term. Today Democrats enjoy a rare double-digit lead over Republicans in party favorable ratings, and a recent Gallup poll found the largest Democratic lead in party affiliation over Republicans in nearly a decade (49% compared to 40%).

Alamogordo New Mexico and Every Depressed Community in America…

The road forward for the GOP starts with leaders and voters who show integrity, act courageously, and speak words of truth in the face of political mediocrity. Guerilla Warfare does not win political wars, it just causes dissention in the hive. Old school debate, and local activism changes the hearts and minds of neighbors with responsible dialog. It starts with us holding local political leaders accountable. Does Couy Griffin serve the best interest as a commissioner for Otero County or is there someone who has leadership, vision, and courage. Is Evette Herrell effective or will she grow into the position beyond Trumpian ideology and represent the diversity that is New Mexico? Do local commissioners have vision to build a diverse economy and expand upon local tourism and cultural opportunities within Alamogordo and Southern New Mexico? Is the Republican Party in rural America capable of embracing a solutions-based platform and lead the people or does it want to rest on its laurels and play victim? The answers to what is next for the Republican party will NOT begin in Washington, nor in a think tank in New York or at Harvard or Princeton. What is next for the Republican party begins here and now with you, me, and every concerned citizen at the local and state level and with that participation and leadership then the national party will fall in line.

The GOP was once a great party of great ideals. It still can be again, if it turns away from the ideology of white victimhood and accepts its role as a leader of a diverse multi-cultural country where every person is valued regardless of skin color, nation of origin, education level, sexual orientation and the party embraces its responsibility to plan, lead and not always do what is easy for now but what is right for future generations.

The party must turn away from the corruption of money and greed and join the effort to lead on term limits, responsible investment in infrastructure, jobs and education and turn away from social issues and yet again engage on issues of strength and fiscal power.

 As a citizen are you up to the challenge of sacrifice today to show leadership for tomorrow? Republican conservatism calls for you to place the good of those around you above your personal comfort. The greatest generation did it during WWII now can you step up to the plate? Its on you to turn away ideology of ignorance and embrace the ideology of diversity, economic prosperity, and strength.

Sources: Bill of Rights Institute, Wikipedia, The National Review Archives, The Biography of Willam F Buckley, American Conservatism, Time, People, NPR, Firing Line, Duluth Tribune, The Conversation, The Desert News, Peter Wehner Ethics and Public Policy Center, The Washington Post, The Congressional Review, The White House Archives, Retake Republicanism.

Commentary by Author, Political Activist, Business Leader and Registered Republican Chris Edwards.

Chris Edwards New Mexico Bestselling Author and Executive Coach. Fitness, Sports History, Healthy Life Balance make up our core values. We focus on physical, mental, and spiritual fitness for a healthy lifestyle. We provide tips an offer A Social Perspective, Philosophy and participate in Political Activism for societal change as a Writer, Businessman, Lover of Life Experiences, Ambassador and Proponent of the Cultural Arts, Advocate in Exploring The Best In Humanity and the Celebration of Life Experience.

Author of the Coach Robert Sepulveda Book Series and the 90 Days to a Glass Half Full Lifestyle 2 Hours Unplugged series offered at fine independent book sellers and on amazon.com.

Small Town Republicanism Highjacked – Take Back Republicanism – a Commentary by Bay Area Author & Political Strategist: Chris Edwards

As Published in The Napa Valley Register 2/9/2021

“That’s another one of those Clinton murders,” Ms. Greene said, referring to John F. Kennedy Jr.’s death in a 1999 plane crash, suggesting that he had been assassinated because he was a potential rival to Hillary Clinton for a New York Senate seat.

Ms. Greene casually unfurled the cascade of dangerous untrue conspiracy theories in a video that was originally posted to YouTube in 2018. It provides a window into the warped worldview amplified by the freshman Republican congresswoman from Georgia…a conservative provocateur who has proudly brought the hard-right fringe to the Capitol…

The excerpt in The New York Times 1/29/2021, would normally seem foreign to Napa, sadly that is no longer the case.

What is the case, is these fringe conspiracy minded individuals are now out and proud. One outcome of Doris Gentry ‘s poorly executed run for mayor, is elements of the fringe backed her- out, loud and exposed themselves.

These individuals moved to the mainstream and highjacked Doris Gentry’s campaign messaging, with her blessing, until caught. She backpaddled and claimed, “not to have them in her rolodex,” yet she continues down the path with them looking like a fool in their grips, hook, line, and sinker.  Even after a resounding loss, she still propagates their messaging in social media with a recent homophobic post on Facebook. She posted on the now defunct Parlor, without remorse.

A former grand jury member, a restaurant owner and doll maker, a former homeland security employee and members of the right wing religious community all embraced her campaign, high jacked its messaging; and under its auspice brought the Proud Boys, Walk Away and extremists into the mainstream of Napa.


The Napa County GOP under the leadership of Chairman, Larry Green invited the public, “To See What The GOP Is All About” as reported in the Napa Register 6/13/2019 and hear Walk Away founder, Brandon Straka, spew propaganda. Since then Straka was arrested in connection with the Capitol assault. Indeed, this did prove what the, present, Napa GOP, is all about! It continued to support Doris Gentry after the revelations of her resume embellishments and the fact her Chocolate and Wine Charity Fundraiser only netted a profit of less than $200.00 on $56,000.00 raised. The GOP leaders doubled down – its leaders via social media posts and comments, attacked people that exposed Doris.

Doris launched her campaign with Ben Bergquam trying to legitimize their movement locally, all the while the press identified him as a Proud Boy. His Napa debut was at the launch fundraiser for Doris Gentry, as seen in multiple videos. This fine “patriot” was, also arrested, for harassment and trespassing on government property in Sacramento per The Hill 1-31-19.

The GOP party leadership still has not distanced itself from these extremists. It is being used as a platform of hate, and it’s time that the silent majority of rational, educated Republicans, take the party back.

Many within the communities of people of color and the LBGTQ community have witnessed this thuggery in Napa for decades only to be  told; “oh,  you are exaggerating, that is old Napa from decades ago, every city has issues, that’s not my Napa.


Well, the dirty little secret is, this is “our Napa” of the past and continues in the present. It has been swept under the carpet for too long.

Now we make the national headlines with Ian Benjamin Rogers arrest for bombs, machine guns and The LA Times Reports 1-28-21; “ A suspected far-right extremist and radicalized supporter of former President Trump facing federal explosives charges may have been targeting California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the San Francisco Bay Area headquarters of social media giants Twitter and Facebook, according to the FBI.”


This has got to stop; here, now, and today. The centrist of both parties need to purge radicalized individuals from their rolls.

The Republican party needs to take a hard look at itself. It was once a party of law and order, fiscal responsibility, constitutional principles, and patriotism. The party used to support the constitution. It once led, as an example, of constructive compromise, under constitutional and logical science based debate. Not any longer. It has been highjacked by radicalized, false, and conspiratorial ideology; that is self-serving, and does not represent constitutional law nor the views of the SILENT MAJORITY.


Until the Republican party can take a self-inventory, purge itself of this contagion and re-establish itself to its founding principles; it will decay upon itself, as a failed cause.

Today, the leaders of the Republican Party of Napa County need to stand up and retake true Republicanism, or the Central Committee and its leaders should be recalled, as should any Republican elected official that continues down these rabbit holes of conspiratorial fraud they are perpetuating onto this nation.

https://napavalleyregister.com/opinion/letters/republicans-need-to-take-a-long-hard-look-at-themselves/article_20724bdd-b78d-5582-9b17-85e92b883fb1.html

Softening of America A Commentary By John F Kennedy Revisited 60 Years Later 4/2/2021

While doing research on a book I am writing on a New Mexico Track and Field Coach Bob Robert Sepulveda I came across this amazing take on physical fitness by President JFK. Quite a different approach to what we see today. I wonder if we as citizens truly embraced what president Kennedy embraces below if the national crises Covid-19 would be so severe or would our diabetes and obesity issues be less and us a healthier and happier nation? Maybe the softening of America’s youth he refers to then is a wake up call for now to become more physically active and to embrace fitness…

On Dec. 26, 1960, President-elect John F. Kennedy penned a piece for Sports Illustrated touting the importance of “physical soundness” for Americans — for kids and grown-ups alike. A precursor to today’s America’s Great Outdoor Initiative, which encourages families to get outdoors, it hit the outdoor nail on the proverbial head. Read on to see The Soft American in its entirety…

The Soft American
By President-elect John F. Kennedy

Beginning more than 2,500 years ago, from all quarters of the Greek world men thronged every four years to the sacred grove of Olympia, under the shadow of Mount Cronus, to compete in the most famous athletic contests of history—the Olympian games.

During the contest a sacred truce was observed among all the states of Greece as the best athletes of the Western world competed in boxing and foot races, wrestling and chariot races for the wreath of wild olive which was the prize of victory. When the winners returned to their home cities to lay the Olympian crown in the chief temples they were greeted as heroes and received rich rewards. For the Greeks prized physical excellence and athletic skills among man’s greatest goals and among the prime foundations of a vigorous state.

Thus the same civilizations which produced some of our highest achievements of philosophy and drama, government and art, also gave us a belief in the importance of physical soundness which has become a part of Western tradition; from the mens sana in corpore sano of the Romans to the British belief that the playing fields of Eaton brought victory on the battlefields of Europe. This knowledge, the knowledge that the physical well-being of the citizen is an important foundation for the vigor and vitality of all the activities of the nation, is as old as Western civilization itself. But it is a knowledge which today, in American, we are in danger of forgetting.

The first indication of a decline in the physical strength and ability of young Americans became apparent among United States soldiers in the early stages of the Korean War. The second came when figures were released showing that almost one out of every two young American was being rejected by Selective Service as mentally, morally or physically unfit. But the most startling demonstration of the general physical decline of American youth came when Dr. Hans Kraus and Dr. Sonja Weber revealed the results of 15 years of research centering in the Posture Clinic of New York’s Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital—results of physical fitness tests given to 4,264 children in this country and 2,870 children in Austria, Italy and Switzerland.

The findings showed that despite our unparalleled standard of living, despite our good food and our many playgrounds, despite our emphasis on school athletics, American youth lagged far behind Europeans in physical fitness. Six tests for muscular strength and flexibility were given; 57.9% of the American children failed one or more of these tests, while only 8.7% of the European youngsters failed.

A Consistent Decline

Especially disheartening were the results of the five strength tests: 35.7% of American children failed one or more of these, while only 1.1% of the Europeans failed, and among Austrian and Swiss youth the rate of failure was as low as .5%.

As a result of the alarming Kraus-Weber findings President Eisenhower created a Council on Youth Fitness at the Cabinet level and appointed a Citizens Advisory Committee on the Fitness of American Youth, composed of prominent citizens interested in fitness. Over the past five years the physical fitness of American youth has been discussed in forums, by committees and in leading publications. A 10-point program for physical fitness has been publicized and promoted. Our schools have been urged to give increased attention to the physical well-being of their students. Yet there has been no noticeable improvement. Physical fitness tests conducted last year in Britain and Japan showed that the youth of those countries were considerably more fit than our own children. And the annual physical fitness tests for freshman at Yale University show a consistent decline in the prowess of young American; 51& of the class of 1951 passed the tests, 43% of the class of 1956 passed, and only 38%, a little more than a third, of the class of 1960 succeeded, in passing the not overly rigorous examination.

Of course, physical tests are not infallible. They can distort the true health picture. There are undoubtedly many American youths and adults whose physical fitness matches and exceeds the best of other lands.

But the harsh fact of the matter is that there is also an increasingly large number of young Americans who are neglecting their bodies—whose physical fitness is not what it should be—who are getting soft. And such softness on the part of individual citizens can help to strip and destroy the vitality of a nation.

For the physical vigor of our citizens is one of America’s most precious resources. If we waste and neglect this resource, if we allow it to dwindle and grow soft then we will destroy much of our ability to meet the great and vital challenges which confront our people. We will be unable to realize our full potential as a nation.

Throughout our history we have been challenged to armed conflict by nations which sought to destroy our independence or threatened our freedom. The young men of America have risen to those occasions, giving themselves freely to the rigors and hardships of warfare. But the stamina and strength which the defense of liberty requires are not the product of a few weeks’ basic training or a month’s conditioning. These only come from bodies which have been conditioned by a lifetime of participation in sports and interest in physical activity. Our struggles against aggressors throughout our history have been won on the playgrounds and corner lots and fields of America.

Thus, in a very real and immediate sense, our growing softness, our increasing lack of physical fitness, is a menace to our security.

However, we do not, like the ancient Spartans, wish to train the bodies of our youth to make them more effective warriors. It is our profound hope and expectation that Americans will never again have to expend their strength in armed conflict.

But physical fitness is as vital to the activities of peace as to those of war, especially when our success in those activities may well determine the future of freedom in the years to come. We face in the Soviet Union a powerful and implacable adversary determined to show the world that only the Communist system possesses the vigor and determination necessary to satisfy awakening aspirations for progress and the elimination of poverty and want. To meet the challenge of this enemy will require determination and will and effort on the part of all American. Only if our citizens are physically fit will they be fully capable of such an effort.

For physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body; it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. The relationship between the soundness of the body and the activities of the mind is subtle and complex. Much is not yet understood. But we do know what the Greeks knew: that intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of their capacity when the body is healthy and strong; that hardy spirits and tough minds usually inhabit sound bodies.

In this sense, physical fitness is the basis of all the activities of our society. And if our bodies grow soft and inactive, if we fail to encourage physical development and prowess, we will undermine our capacity for thought, for work and for the use of those skills vital to an expanding and complex America.

Thus the physical fitness of our citizens is a vital prerequisite to America’s realization of its full potential as a nation, and to the opportunity of each individual citizen to make full and fruitful use of his capacities.

It is ironic that at a time when the magnitude of our dangers makes the physical fitness of our citizens a matter of increasing importance, it takes greater effort and determination than ever before to build the strength of our bodies. The age of leisure and abundance can destroy vigor and muscle tone as effortlessly as it can gain time. Today human activity, the labor of the human body, is rapidly being engineered out of working life. By the 1970’s, according to many economists, the man who works with his hands will be almost extinct.

Many of the routine physical activities which earlier Americans took for granted are no longer part of our daily life. A single look at the packed parking lot of the average high school will tell us what has happened to the traditional hike to school that helped to build young bodies. The television set, the movies and the myriad conveniences and distractions of modern life all lure our young people away from the strenuous physical activity that is the basis of fitness in youth and in later life.

Now is the Time

Of course, modern advances and increasing leisure can add greatly to the comfort and enjoyment of life. But they must not be confused with indolence, with, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “slothful-ease,” with an increasing deterioration of our physical strength. For the strength of our youth and the fitness of our adults are among our most important assets, and this growing decline is a matter of urgent concern to thoughtful Americans.

This is a national problem, and requires national action. President Eisenhower helped show the way through his own interest and by calling national attention to our deteriorating standards of physical fitness. Now it is time for the United States to move forward with a national program to improve the fitness of all Americans.

First: We must establish a White House /Committee on Health and Fitness to formulate and carry out a program to improve the physical condition of the nation. This committee will include the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and the Secretary of the Interior. The executive order creating this committee will clearly state its purpose, and coordinate its activities with the many federal programs which bear a direct relation to the problem of physical fitness.

Second: The physical fitness of our youth should be made a direct responsibility of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. This department should conduct—through its Office of Education and the National Institutes of Health—research into the development of a physical fitness program for the nation’s public schools. The results of this research shall be made freely available to all who are interested. In addition, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare should use all its existing facilities to attach the lack of youth fitness as a major health problem.

Third: The governor of each state will be invited to attend the annual National Youth Fitness Congress. This congress will examine the progress which has been made in physical fitness during the preceding year, exchange suggestions for improving existing programs and provide an opportunity to encourage the states to implement the physical fitness program drawn up by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Our states are anxious to participate in such programs, to make sure that their youth have the opportunity for full development of their bodies as well as their minds.

Fourth: The President and all departments of government must make it clearly understood that the promotion of sports participation and physical fitness is a basic and continuing policy of the United States. By providing such leadership, by keeping physical fitness in the forefront of the nation’s concerns, the federal government can make a substantial contribution toward improving the health and vigor of our citizens.

But no matter how vigorous the leadership of government, we can fully restore the physical soundness of our nation only if every American is willing to assume responsibility for his own fitness and the fitness of his children. We do not live in a regimented society where men are forced to live their lives in the interest of the state. We are, all of us, as free to direct the activities of our bodies as we are to pursue the objects of our thought. But if we are to retain this freedom, for ourselves and for generations to come, then we must also be willing to work for the physical toughness on which the courage and intelligence and skill of man so largely depend.

All of us must consider our own responsibilities for the physical vigor of our children and of the young men and women of our community. We do not want our children to become a generation of spectators. Rather, we want each of them to be a participant in the vigorous life.