Manifest Destiny Revisited
I know a little about the Oregon Trail having been born in Eastern Oregon. Near Baker City, Oregon there is a dandy “interpretive center” which sits on a hill in full view of thousands of wheel-ruts made by the wagons of the emigrants over a hundred years ago. These were people to whom the American Dream was real and worthy of pursuit. These were people prepared to sacrifice for that dream and, sacrifice they did. The Oregon Trail, they say, has a grave every quarter mile along its hundreds upon hundreds of miles. If you ever visit the place you can’t come away unmoved.
It takes a special kind of person to uproot themselves and lay it all on the line. Reaching for more and better isn’t always easy, but if you bleed enough and sweat sufficiently, you can make your dreams come true. (Cue the orchestra…..)
Those wagons and the people in them had need of good leaders. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to find yourself lost in Saint Louis surrounded by thousands of strangers and to pick one – just one – wagon train to join. All you had to go on back then was a man’s reputation. Hopefully, you would find an experienced wagon master with many successful treks across the continent under his belt. And, hopefully that leader’s name wasn’t Donner.
Picking a leader to whom you would entrust your life, the lives of your children and every last thing you owned had to have been a tough call back then. There were no 24 hour news channels to give you all the latest decisions made (or mis-made) by your candidate. You didn’t just Google a guy and get all your answers. You had to go on your gut.
It’s much easier for us as we go about selecting a leader for our nation. We can do serious research. We can compare the records of the two Presidential candidates and see which one has been more successful at accomplishing the goals he’s chosen. We can see which one is to be trusted by the number of broken promises and outright lies he’s left behind him. We can make educated decisions. We don’t have to trust our gut entirely.
I’m sure the folks found Jacob and George Donner to be likeable guys. Something about those men inspired the others in that doomed group to gamble everything on Jacob and George. Of course, it didn’t work out all that well for them. It ended in death and cannibalism when the snows on what is now called Donner Pass trapped them in their folly.
You know where I’m going with this.
This election is the most important election we’ve ever faced. Everything is riding on the outcome of the decisions we will make on November 6th. Before you blithely choose a candidate because he’s handsome or charismatic or just because he’s the “great black hope,” understand that your children and your grandchildren are in this wagon with you. Their futures depend upon this one choice you will make. The leader you choose to guide you over the treacherous times to come needs more than good intentions. He needs to be reliable if you’re going to entrust your wagon-full of dreams to his leadership – and trust me – in this election, you’re betting it ALL on the outcome.
My Conestoga has a Romney-Ryan bumpersticker on the tailgate. What about yours?