AlamogordoTownNews.com The Couy Griffin Interview – France, The Recall and Dark Days…

AlamogordoTownNews.com The Couy Griffin Interview…

AlamogordoTownNews.com as a community citizen-based publication is actively engaged in digging deeper into stories, business interests and the movers and shakers of the Alamogordo community via in depth researched coverage and dialog rather than the lightweight coverage of the local corporate owned news entities.

AlamogordoTownNews.com attempts to hear and publish different sides of issues and to ensure a diverse population of voices are heard. As such we will report a variety of viewpoints, some we agree with, some we find distasteful. We will always attempt to present facts and we will limit perceived propaganda and if facts are in question, we will question them. Individuals in the public domain of politics and entertainment that live a very public life have a higher standard of what is perceived as slanderous against them and many times at the local political level that is a lesson not at first understood nor recognized.

 Fact based; science-based reality checked dialog is the foundation of our reporting on hard stories. Political stories can at times get shaded with opinion of those being interviewed. In this interview we have attempted to be unbiased and fair in allowing Mr. Griffin an open platform and quoting him verbatim without edit excepting for a few grammatical edits in punctuation.

 We have published many articles related to the recall effort of Couy Griffin that have been presented by the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin and others via its variety of spokespersons, directly affiliated and not affiliated with the effort.

As such the editorial board of the AlamogordoTownNews.com site felt it appropriate to reach out to Mr. Griffin and get his thoughts concerning the recall, but equally important we have presented the question to many local political leaders of, what they have done while in office to improve the lives of the people they represent?

As we enter the municipal elections period, we will press those elected and those seeking elected office on what, if anything, they have accomplished to better the lives of their constituents. We want hard concrete facts not talking points to present to the electorate. We will not always get them as that is the nature of political dialog.

What have they achieved that benefits the citizens, the business community, the level of education and poverty in the area? Those are the hard questions each voter should ask prior to casting a vote. Few elected leaders like these questions when pressed. Accountability of local political leaders seems to be lacking by a complacent citizenry within Alamogordo and Otero County when looking at low voter turnout in relation to local elections.

One gets the government one deserves by participation, and one does indeed get the government one deserves by a lack of participation. Those at the table do indeed decide, as Chez Sanchez reminds Otero County Citizens in his blog posts, and that principle we do indeed, agree.

Otero County seems to have one party that is driving the dialog and much of that dialog seems to be driven from extreme positions within that party, from the mask mandate in public schools to overall public health and immigration; the alternative parties and independent point of view is missing in much public dialog and debate within Otero County. Are there other voices and other active parties? If so lets hear from them on the many issues before the city and county.

The silent majority of Alamogordo and Otero County voters are just that, mostly silent, and as such the evolution and election of individuals such as Congresswoman Yvette Herrell and the election of the commissioner Couy Griffin is the result of that silence and complacency by those in the silent middle or those more moderate in thinking within all parties.

The perception by the public of extremist positions, controversial rants, and allegations of mishandling the public trust is what appears to have led to the recall effort of Couy Griffin.

Mr. Griffin has been controversial at best, some would say damaging to the reputation of the county at worst.

That is not for us to decide within the context of this article. The context of this article is to hear from Couy Griffin himself and then as the recall effort proceeds, you, the educated and informed voter within his district will decide his outcome and the outcome of the future of the Otero County politics of the future.

This recall effort is historic for the county and eyes all over New Mexico and the nation are watching this effort. Mr. Griffin is certainly feeling pressure based upon our dialog with him. What proceeds is a series of questions and his response to each.

 We offer no opinion but just present the dialog and you the reader can consider the responses…

The Couy Griffin Interview of August 7, 2021…

We began the dialog with Mr. Griffin in wanting to know a bit about his past and his time in France. How did he end up there and did he enjoy his life there, and then we proceeded into his role as an elected official, Cowboys for Trump, and the recall?

AlamogordTownNews.com – How long did you live in France and how did you end up there?

Couy Griffin Response – “I attended Cochise College in Douglas Arizona. I won the region in bull riding competition as a freshman and competed at the college national finals at Bozeman, Montana. I moved to Paris in 98’ and returned to the states in 2003.

AlamogordoTownNews.com – It sounds exotic for a cowboy from New Mexico to end up in France. Tell us about your history and how you ended up in France working at Disney?

Couy Griffin Response – “I attended college on a rodeo scholarship where I competed as a bull rider.  I went to school with a friend who grew up on the Navajo Reservation and saw an ad where they were looking for Native American Indians to perform in the show.  He responded, was hired, and plugged me to the casting director to play the role of a cowboy in the show.

 It was an amazing experience and truly a world class show.  It was a scripted show that starred Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull and Cowboys and Indians from across the states.  My roles were trick riding, trick roping, driving the stagecoach and a little bit of acting.  

The show was very well received by the European guests.  There were two shows a night that seated around 1.200 people a show where the guests enjoyed a full BBQ Menu and all the beer they cared to drink.  It was a world class show on every front.

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Did you enjoy the life overseas?

Couy Griffin Response – “I truly enjoyed living in Paris.  I bought a condo just near the golf course and had a wonderful group of the most diverse friends a person could have.  Friends from all over the world.  I was able to travel to most of the Western European countries and was truly blessed to see more of the world.  During the end of my stay, it got a little harder to live in France with the political tension between France, the US, and the mess in Iraq.  All the French media could do is talk about “the cowboy” George W. Bush.  And with me being an actual cowboy living in Paris you could imagine the negative attention and environment I sometimes landed in. “ 

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Would you do it again?  

Couy Griffin Response – “I would absolutely love to be involved in another type of Wild West show again one day.  I created and produced a few shows after moving back to the states.  One of which was here in Alamogordo at the Otero County Fair.  I have tremendous confidence in my ability to produce a show, but I lack in the financial backing and organizational ability to actually put one on.  There is so much that goes into production but Lord willing and by God’s grace I hope that one day it will happen.  To answer your question “if I’d go back” I’d say no.  I’d rather take my talent and the learned experience and move forward but I’d definitely love to be involved again one day.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com How are you personally impacted by the recall effort? 

Couy Griffin Response – “This recall effort has been by far one of the most difficult seasons in my life.  The reason being is because I have fallen victim to the lies and slander propagated by those involved as well as the local media who give them their platform.  When I drive thru town with my 6-year-old son and see the signs and booths set up promoting this recall it just makes me feel horrible.  With my social media being shut down I now have no platform to defend myself against these lies.  In today’s world you can be tried, convicted, and sentenced thru social media and local media without being given any kind of right to respond. 

 When my hearing was scheduled to address the allegations in this recall the state of NM scheduled this hearing on the same day of my monthly commission meeting.  I was faced with either attending the commission meeting and upholding my oath to office or going to defend myself against the recall.  I filed a motion of continuance stating that my right to due process was being infringed upon and the District Judge Manuel Arrieta (a Bill Richardson appointed judge) denied that motion.  Therefore, they had this hearing to decide my fate without me being present. The allegations for recall and my defense are such:

  1.  Fails to properly attend meetings.    This accusation stems from me attending 4 county commission meetings telephonically.  This is a common practice in Otero County and has been accepted for years.  Out of the 4 meetings I telephonically attended 2 of them were because of the quarantine restrictions which disallowed me to attend.  So technically I only attended 2 meetings which I could have been physically present for but due to being out of town I called in and attended.  The previous District 2 Commissioner Susan Flores telephonically called into 8 commission meetings during her last 4-year tenure in office.  That is over twice as many even with the meetings I couldn’t attend because of quarantine restrictions.
  2. Banishment from the Mescalero Apache Reservation.     This happened because I traveled onto the Mescalero Apache Reservation and met with a tribal member named Chris Valdez who couldn’t get the tribe to help him with medical treatment from a work-related accident.  While meeting with Chris we spoke about the recent Covid money the tribe had received and where that money had been spent.  Upon publicly requesting an audit to make sure that money was getting to the people of Mescalero it wasn’t long after that tribal president Gabe Aquilar banished me from the reservation.  All the while he is driving a brand-new Ford Expedition while many of the people he is elected to represent are living in very destitute conditions.
  3. Use of County Resources for Cowboys for Trump.  This stems from using my office to record videos.  All I did was record videos with my phone while in my office.  Since being elected to this office I have spent less of the county money in reimbursements than any of my fellow commissioners.  To date I have spent $397 in travel expenses.  My fellow commissioner Gerald Matherley has spent over twice as much as I have, and we took office at the same time.  Previous District 2 Commissioner Susan Flores spent over $8,600 dollars in travel expenses during her last term as county commissioner in this same office.  I have been extremely careful and frugal while being in office.  Yet I have been to Washington DC countless times fighting against the federal overreach on the citizens of Otero County.  All the way to the Oval Office with a personal, one on one meeting with the President.  And President Trump has never recognized Cowboys for Trump or me being a part of Cowboys for Trump.  Every time I have spoken to the President, Vice President, or heads of the United Sates Agricultural Dept they have always and only recognized me as Commissioner Griffin.
  4. Filing improper travel voucher, failing to exercise proper fiduciary responsibility.    I filled this travel voucher out under the direct advisement of the county secretary Sylvia Tilbrook as well as County Manager Pamela Heltner.  I had never filled a travel voucher out before and they are the ones that got me the paperwork and stepped me thru how to fill it out.  This voucher was then approved by the finance director Julliane Hall as well as County Manager Pamela Heltner.  I had absolutely no idea there was any problem with this voucher nor did my fellow commissioners when former commissioner Lori Bies as well as Gerald Matherley both voted to approve this voucher in a regularly scheduled meeting.  The amount of the voucher turned out to be more than my budget would allow so both commissioners voted to raise my budget allowance to cover this “improper voucher” which now I’m the one taking the heat on.
  5. Violation of the Gift Act by soliciting and accepting $3,500 from a restricted donor.     I’m not sure if it was $3,500 or $3,400 but I know that G.B. Oliver from the Chamber of Commerce “passed the hat” to local business owners to help me raise this money.  The money was only raised to help pay the county back for the illegal travel voucher that they issued.  This money that was raised was raised for Otero County.  As soon as the full amount was raised, I took this cash money in an envelope, got a money order from Well Fargo, and paid the county back the full amount for the travel voucher.  Only trying to do the right thing.  That is to make a wrong a right.  I also first checked with our County Attorney Michael Eshelman who advised me there was no problem in raising this money to pay the county back. 

That is in a nutshell my response to these allegations.  A response that the state of NM and District Judge Manuel Arrietta did not allow me the opportunity.  If I would have been able to attend this hearing, I don’t believe the recall would have been allowed to move forward and I wouldn’t be going thru what I’m going thru right now.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – What 3 accomplishments have you done as a commissioner that you are proudest of?  

Couy Griffin Response – This is a tough question because the so many issues I have fought for have been such huge battles. 

    1. I was able to address the serious conditions of our local forests directly with the President.  On my first conversation with the President, I asked him if he knew where Cloudcroft New Mexico is.  He replied no and I told him that he would know exactly where it was if the forest surrounding it were to catch on fire.  The President then networked me with Undersecretary of Agriculture Jim Hubbard who oversees all the national forests across America.  I had a commitment from Undersecretary Hubbard to bring his whole staff to Otero County and while we were organizing the trip Covid hit.  This completely shut his office down and hampered his efforts.

     2.  I stood alongside our local sheriff David Black as well as the N.M. Sheriffs Association in defending against the red flag gun laws.  I travelled the state and spoke strongly inside our county to push back against these unconstitutional laws.

     3.  I was the only elected official to question the Governor in Santa Teresa NM when she said there was no crisis on our southern border.  I advocated strongly for our local border patrol and fought hard to get our secondary checkpoints back open when the crisis on the border forced them to close.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com –What have you done as a commissioner to bring jobs to the district? 

Couy Griffin Response – “Bringing jobs to Otero County was one of my main focusses while entering into this office and is still a focus today.  The jobs that I fought for are the jobs that have always sustained our local economy.  That is logging and sawmilling, oil and gas, and the ranching industry.  That is why I spent so much time in Washington and focused so heavily on creating a strong relationship with President Trump.  These jobs which include natural resources on federal land could only be fought for on the federal level.  I fought and attained a verbal commitment from President Trump that in his words he was going to “fix my problem”.  I truly felt that our problems were going to be fixed during his second tenure in office but with the outcome of the speculative election it has been a great defeat.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – What have you done to lower the poverty rates and improve the graduation and literacy rates in your district since elected?

Couy Griffin Response – “I believe I have fought for those problems non-stop over the last 3 years while being in office.  The reason being is because with a stronger private sector and less dependance on the government those problems will fix themselves.  When you have a society that is solely dependent on federal money you have destitution on every front.  If we could have gotten our logging and sawmilling industries on their feet, it would have provided jobs in the private sector and given people a hope for growth and prosperity moving forward into the future.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – What have you personally done to attack the blight of abandoned properties and properties that are eyesores of junk in your district? 

Couy Griffin Response – “I just received a call and drove by one of these properties yesterday.  It is so hard to get these types of properties cleaned up with current state laws that are on the books.  I have encouraged our state representative Rachel Black to investigate getting whatever legislation we need thru the state house to address this horrible problem.  I have also visited with the property manager of Eileen Acres as well as brainstormed with property owners from this development about what options may be available.  I have expressed a commitment to do anything in my power as a commissioner to clean up abandon buildings and trailer houses throughout the county, but we really need cooperation from the state and that is still to be determined.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Have you officially announced a run for sheriff in the other county?  

Couy Griffin Response – “No I have not.  But I have entertained the thought and have spoken about it publicly.  With the current political state in our country, I feel the office of Sheriff is the most important and powerful political position in the county.  If we must make a strong stand one day in our country, it will need to be done thru the office of Sheriff and I feel I have the intestinal fortitude and would be willing to lead that charge.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – If you are running for sheriff why are you holding on to the commission position as it would appear your heart is more into the role of a sheriff?  

Couy Griffin Response – “I’m not running for sheriff, at this time anyway.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Can a sheriff hold office if you were elected while having a federal indictment pending?  

Couy Griffin Response – “I am currently facing a misdemeanor trespass charge and one that I don’t believe is fair or just.  So, we will just see where that ball lands.  I did nothing violent or anything that I have any conviction over that was wrong on Jan 6th.  I simply stood alongside fellow Americans to protest what I believe were fraudulent elections.  And did so under the guise that we were still a free country and still had a Constitutional Right to do so.

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you believe former president Trump turned on you when he distanced himself from Cowboys for Trump?  

Couy Griffin Response – “Former President Trump never distanced himself from Cowboys for Trump.  That was a “Fake News” headline.  If you believe he distanced himself from Cowboys for Trump, where did you come to that conclusion from?  President Trump has never even publicly recognized Cowboys for Trump.  The different times President Trump recognized me, Couy Griffin, was only as an Otero County Commissioner.  That is the representation that I brought Otero County.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – What benefit did the association of Cowboys for Trump bring to Otero County?

Couy Griffin Response – “It helped me to build a relationship with the former President.  By me starting and operating Cowboys for Trump it allowed me the opportunity to speak to him about issues directly affecting the great people of Otero County.  You could view Cowboys for Trump as a type of “non-paid” lobbying group for Otero County that worked itself all the way into the Oval Office and gained direct attention from the President of the United States.  That was an accomplishment.  And all my reward has been an unjust and uncalled for recall election with my name smeared daily on social media and mainstream media.  But the reward that I work for is not of this world but a world to come.  And the only one that matters at the end of the day is God and praise be to Jesus God knows my heart and knows why I do what I do.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you feel the political establishment in Otero County, the state or the Republican Party has turned or distanced themselves from you? 

Couy Griffin Response – “I have been very let down not necessarily by the state party but by the chairman Steve Pearce.  Only days after the event of January 6th Steve issued an official public statement off the state party platform that said “Couy Griffin travelled to Washington DC to lead the protests and riots”.  This was a flat out lie and a very slanderous attack.  Steve to this day has not retracted that statement nor apologized for it.  So, in saying that I have absolutely no respect for Steve Pearce.  And to this day wonder how you can lose the Governor’s race and when you do you are rewarded with the position of chair of the Republican Party??  Steve is a multi-millionaire that knows his way all too well around Washington DC.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Why do you think a bipartisan recall committee was formed and any feelings towards those individuals or party officials?  

Couy Griffin Response – “In my opinion “bi-partisan” has really lost its edge and its meaning.  I say that because many Republicans are just as bad as the Democrats and vice versa.  Most are just bar certified attorneys who pick an R or D to fight for but at the end of the day they sleep in the same bed of corruption.  All the legislation coming out of our state and federal houses only give more grounds for attorneys to sue.  Alas creating more work for most of these agenda driven scum bags.  Take Brian Egolf for example. He is the ringleader and one of the biggest reasons New Mexico is so oppressed.  You put attorneys like Egolf and Jacob Candelaria in office and you are going to have a dysfunctional and self-serving government like we currently have in NM.  Civil Rights, Equal Rights, Transgender Rights………all this legislation does is provide more ground/standing for attorneys to sue but does nothing to help NM become more prosperous or successful.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com went back and forth with multiple emails for clarification and in dialog with Mr. Griffin. We concluded letting him know we were considering running two stories one as a more of a human interest and one of the more political Couy Griffin. He responded to that feedback requesting that we do one “story and that the man he was before he entered office is the man he is today.

Again AlamogordoTownNews.com is not issuing an opinion on the recall or of Mr. Griffins feedback from this interview process. We will leave that for the readers to determine. We do have some unanswered questions and will follow-up with Steve Pierce and others referenced via his comments in future stories of follow-up.

We will conclude this article with Mr. Griffin’s final statement to the AlamogordoTownNews.com site…

I’d rather not have the story laid out in a way on how such a nice guy could now be such a horrible domestic terrorist.  Of course, not accusing you of that’s the way it would be presented but I can promise you one thing.  I’m the same guy today as I was before if not more loving and more sacrificial today.  

Since entering office, I have done everything for the greater good and made huge sacrifices.  After my first trip to Washington when Cowboys for Trump was founded and branded and all the guys, I rode with came back to families awaiting their arrivals at the airport I came back to divorce papers on my kitchen table.  

I had to get completely out of the restaurant business because after the Alamogordo Daily News began their slanderous attacks my business was in the tank.  I have given all my personal time, finances, and energy to this cause.

 I’ve made some emotionally driven statements a couple times, only good Democrat…and black NFL football players who want to disrespect our flag and play something as RACIST as a “black national anthem” to go to Africa and play their football.  Both statements taken entirely out of context.  

The first statement I was only speaking figuratively and the second as a red blooded American.  If you don’t love it leave it. But the media will only cherry pick those two sound bites out of hundreds of speeches I’ve made.

 I’ve ONLY ever wanted to put America and the American People first.  I’ve wanted to protect our second amendment and protect the unborn.  And it’s too bad Democrats don’t care as much about dead babies as they do dead Democrats!!

I’ve written you candidly and honestly as I would a friend.  In trusting that you are decent though I’ve never met you.  That is the way I treat everyone.  With love and respect.  As I have learned to do as I work out my faith in The Lord Jesus Christ.

You can use anything I’ve told you to date.  Even this message right here.  All I ask is that you don’t twist my words or try to present me as someone I’m not.  I’m tired of the media. I’m tired of the liars and slanderers like Paul Sanchez, Scott Fredericks, and the rest of the recall committee.  

I have a little over a year left on my oath to the people who elected me and after that I will have done my service.

Politics is the most dirty, corrupt, and hateful world I have ever looked into.  And the only reason I fight the way I do is to try and do my part to protect our country and freedoms from those who want to destroy both.  I am financially broke and hang in the balance of an uncertain future.  But by God’s grace I will not be threatened, intimidated, and I damn sure won’t back down.

Sincerely,

Couy”

AlamogordoTownNew.com is publishing the interview notes directly as written by Mr. Griffin. We offer no commentary at this time but will allow comments, guest commentaries or feedback from any of our readers if they remain professional, stick to facts and do not engage in propaganda and distortions of facts nor personal attacks.

The comments from Mr. Griffin are his and his alone and he owns the commentary of which is published as a response to questions posed.

Now the readers and the voters of his district will decide his fate and that of the political agenda of Otero County as the recall effort moves forward. Mr. Griffin has approximately 1 year left in his term if the recall effort fails before he would face re-election if he so chose to run.

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.

Alamogordo Town News History Lesson Flag Day, Flag Code and Old Glory by Author Chris Edwards

Bernard Cigrand, a small-town Wisconsin teacher, originated the idea for an annual flag day, to be celebrated across the country every June 14, in 1885. That year, he led his school in the first formal observance of the holiday. Cigrand, who later changed careers and practiced dentistry in Illinois, continued to promote his concept and advocate respect for the flag throughout his life.

But prior to that when the American Revolutionbroke out in 1775, the colonists weren’t fighting united under a single flag. Instead, most regiments participating in the war for independence against the British fought under their own flags. In June of 1775, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to create the Continental Army—a unified colonial fighting force—with the hopes of more organized battle against its colonial oppressors. This led to the creation of what was, essentially, the first “American” flag, the Continental Colors.

For some, this flag, which was comprised of 13 red and white alternating stripes and a Union Jack in the corner, was too similar to that of the British. George Washington soon realized that flying a flag that was even remotely close to the British flag was not a great confidence-builder for the revolutionary effort, so he turned his efforts towards creating a new symbol of freedom for the soon-to-be fledgling nation.

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress took a break from writing the Articles of Confederation and passed a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white,” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

In response to the petition, Congress passed the Flag Act of 1777. It reads in the Journals of the Continental Congress:

Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

The date commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The flag was called the Flag Resolution of 1777 and was the first of many iterations of what would become the American flag we recognize today.

Betsy Ross Didn’t Design the Original Flag

Betsy Ross, born Elizabeth Phoebe Griscom, is widely credited with making the first modern American flag in 1776. Folklore states it occurred after General George Washington visited her home at 239 Arch Street in Philadelphia. Ross was the wife of John Ross, a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Militia. John was killed in the early stages of the war. What is known is that Betsy Ross worked in upholstery and helped war efforts by making tents and blankets.

The story of Ross and her presenting the American flag to Washington after he gave her a sketch of what he wanted didn’t become part of “history” until 1876 at Centennial celebrations of the American Revolution. Around that year Ross’s grandson, William J. Canby, wrote a research paper for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania claiming that his grandmother had made the first American flag.

The real designer of the American flag was Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the the Declaration of Independence as a delegate from New Jersey. Hopkinson was the Chairman of the Continental Navy Board’s Middle Department and also designed a flag for them around 1777, too.

Hopkinson was the only person to make the claim of inventing the American flag in his lifetime until the Betsy Ross apocrypha surfaced a hundred years later. Substantiating Hopkinson’s claims are preserved bills he sent to Congress for his work.

According to the United States Flag Organization:

Apparently acting on a request from Congress, Hopkinson sent a detailed bill on June 6th, and it was sent to the auditor general, James Milligan. He sent it to the commissioners of the Chamber of Accounts, who replied six days later on June 12th that they were of the opinion that the charges were reasonable and ought to be paid.

Flag Day itself was first established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. Wilson was also the first president to recognize Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, the latter of which is this Sunday. However, Flag Day didn’t officially become established until 1949 by an act of Congress.

Flag Day is not unique to the United States and many countries have specific flag days. Dates of flag days vary across the world, but most dates were chosen to mark a significant national event like an independence day, a declaration of independence, an important military victory, the creation of the flag, or something similar to our Armed Forces Day.

Prior to Flag Day, June 14, 1923, neither the federal government nor the states had official guidelines governing the display of the United States’ flag. On that date, the National Flag Code was constructed by representatives of over 68 organizations, under the auspices of the National Americanism Commission of the American Legion. The code drafted by that conference was printed by the national organization of the American Legion and given nationwide distribution.

On June 22, 1942, the code became Public Law 77-623; chapter 435. Little had changed in the code since the Flag Day 1923 Conference. The most notable change was the removal of the Bellamy salutedue to its similarities to the Hitler salute.

The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 prohibits real estate management organizations from restricting homeowners from displaying the Flag of the United States on their own property.

The Army Specialist Greg L. Chambers Federal Flag Code Amendment Act of 2007 added a provision to allow governors, or the mayor of the District of Columbia, to proclaim that the flag be flown at half-staff upon the death of a member of the Armed Forces from any State, territory, or possession who died while serving on active duty. The provision directs federal facilities in the area covered by the governor or mayor of the District of Columbia to fly the flag at half-staff consistent with such proclamations.

The Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Sec. 595.)allows the military salute for the flag during the national anthem by members of the Armed Forces not in uniform and by veterans.

And how it was to become named Old Glory

Old Glory!”

This famous name was coined by Captain William Driver, ship master of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1831. As he was leaving on one of his many voyages aboard the brig Charles Doggett friends presented him with a beautiful American flag of twenty four stars. As the banner opened to the ocean breeze for the first time, he exclaimed “Old Glory!” (This voyage would climax with the rescue of the mutineers of the Bounty).

Captain Driver retired to Nashville in 1837, taking his treasured American flag from his sea days with him. By the time the Civil War erupted, most everyone in and around Nashville recognized Captain Driver’s “Old Glory.” When Tennessee seceded from the Union, Rebels were determined to destroy his flag, but repeated searches revealed no trace of the hated banner.

Then on February 25th, 1862, Union forces captured Nashville and raised the American flag over the capital. It was a rather small ensign and immediately folks began asking Captain Driver if “Old Glory” still existed. Happy to have soldiers with him this time, Captain Driver went home and began ripping at the seams of his bed cover. As the stitches holding the quilt-top to the batting unraveled, the onlookers peered inside and saw the 24-starred original “Old Glory”!

Captain Driver gently gathered up the flag and returned with the soldiers to the capitol. Though he was sixty years old, the Captain climbed up to the tower to replace the smaller banner with his beloved flag. The Sixth Ohio Regiment cheered and saluted – and later adopted the nickname “Old Glory” as their own, telling and re-telling the story of Captain Driver’s devotion to the flag we still honor today.

Captain Driver’s grave is located in the old Nashville City Cemetery and is one of three (3) places authorized by act of Congress where the Flag of the United States may be flown 24 hours a day.

A caption above a faded black and white picture in the book, The Stars and the Stripes, states that ‘Old Glory’ may no longer be opened to be photographed, and no color photograph is available.” Visible in the photo in the lower right corner of the canton is an applique anchor, Captain Driver’s very personal note. “Old Glory” is the most illustrious of a number of flags – both Northern and Confederate – reputed to have been similarly hidden, then later revealed as times changed. The flag was given to his granddaughter or niece who later donated it to the Smithsonian.

So on this flag day rather you are celebrating in Alamogordo, Nashville or the beaches of California, let us remember no party and no ideology owns the American flag. The American flag is the people’s flag with a long history that is a twist of tales and reverence. 

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Bill Swartz Crossing America for Charity Stops By Roadrunner Emporium & Fine Arts Gallery, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

Dateline: Alamogordo, New Mexico, June 8, 2021

In case you missed the jovial guy on a bike zipping around Alamogordo yesterday, you missed a man of commitment and compassion.

Meet Mike Swartz. While some people have sat back and complained during this dark period of Covid-19 and the new awakening as we come out of it, there are some individuals that didn’t just sit back in self pity but some individuals set a goal and a path forward to help the greater good of their community and followed through on that path forward in enlightenment and action.A view of Bill Swartz journey 

Mike Swartz is one of those individuals. He is bicycling across America from Harbor New Jersey to San Diego to raise awareness and funds for charity.  His solo ride of about 4000 miles in total down the east coast and across the country is to raise money for Bell Socialization Services which began in 1966 as “The Bell Club,” a social gathering for people being discharged from local psychiatric hospitals into the greater York, PA community.  Created with support of the York chapter of Mental Health America and a financial donation from the York Jaycees, early Bell programs included meals and activities hosted by churches and organizations such as the Catholic Women’s Club, the Jewish War Veteran’s Auxilliary, the Jaycees Wives, etc., as well as dances, presentations, and outings.

The organization then engaged to enrich mental health services, in 1977, programs were also added to assist individuals with intellectual disabilities , and in 1986, the agency added shelter services to meet the needs of York County’s homeless families.

Over the years Bell services continued to evolve and expand and, today, about 2,500 people are served each year through dozens of programs offering an array of housing and basic living supports, guided by our Vision, Mission, & Values. Many Bell programs are licensed and/or accredited to meet strict standards of quality care. With more than 50 properties throughout York and Adams counties, people using Bell services are an integral part of the greater community.

You can follow along the remaining parts of Mr. Swartz journey and read his commentary and blog over his encounters along the way ata variety of social media pages which are  devoted to this bicycle ride. ‍ You’ll see photos, video clips and stories about my experiences and the interesting folks I meet as I bicycle across America.
* FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/coasttocoastbicycleride/
* INSTAGRAM: @billswartz3
* WEBSITE for this COASTtoCOASTbicycleride: www.thisclearbluesky.com

We were fortunate to meet this jovial man at Roadrunner Emporium on New York Avenue yesterday. He explained his journey and his passion and moved us with his experiences.

Mr Swartz said he was attracted to the street and to come into Roadrunner Emporium as he heard John a Lennon’s famous “Imagine” being coming from the Emporium and he knew from that inspiring sound he had to check out the Emporium and the historic New York Avenue. Proving once again “music unites us.”Artist Dalia Lopez Halloway and Author Chris Edwards Photographed by Bill Swartz on His Journey

His journey reminds us all that there are good people out there, not just sitting back but taking action from the darkness to bring light to causes and issues that are important to the community and the nation at large.

Humanity is out there if we just keep our eyes open and look for it. Good luck Mr. Swartz.

And to make a donation to the charity follow the link attached:

https://gofund.me/5b660142

To learn more about the charity he is supporting visit:

https://bellsocialization.com/aboutbell/

To see a FOX News Clip on his journey visit The Fox 43 TV news  affiliates video clip that gives a good overview of this coast to coast bicycle ride fundraiser and the charity for which I’m riding:

https://www.fox43.com/mobile/article/news/local/york-county-man-biking-across-the-country-to-raise-money-for-bell-socialization/521-0da649dc-48bb-4053-a4c2-7dde9b59e747?fbclid=IwAR2XGpbTP1JN_RCTKU3wJLQ2VorxOqTvSRc3x8EIwn98XCMLIuTqHD9Q6

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January Important Issues Poll 2021

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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.