Any tourist that visits Mt Vernon should walk away with one vitally important fact – George Washington did not particularly want to be our first President. The docents make it plain that he wanted to stay at Mt. Vernon and be an ordinary citizen. If one had to boil down the characteristic that made Washington great to a single word, that word would be “sacrifice.”
Tom Brokaw has brought into the common vernacular referring to the WWII generation as “The Greatest Generation.” What made them great? Sacrifice. Thousands upon thousands of lives were put on hold, and lost, for the sake of the nation and the world.
It would seem that sacrifice, on all sorts of levels, is a large part of what has made America the great nation that it is. On Monday my host here, Hugh Hewitt, called on Donald Trump to withdraw his candidacy for the presidency. Hugh has asked Trump to make a major sacrifice. Such a sacrifice would place Trump firmly among great Americans.
The contrast in the reactions of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton to their impeachments says so much. Nixon’s service as president was decent and will ever bear the flaw of the actions that lead to his impeachment. But history will remember him as a great American because of his sacrifice of the very office itself for the sake of the nation. Clinton served as president during one of the most glorious economic expansions we have ever experienced. A fact that would normally result in history recalling him with great fondness. But Clinton’s lack of sacrifice when confronted with his personal flaws will see him remembered as something less than great – as perhaps the president that started us on the path to the crisis the nation currently faces.
Sacrifice is the greatest of American virtues.
The Christian press, and even the secular press, is filled with ideas about what a Christian is supposed to do in response to the electoral crisis confronting the nation at this moment. The virtue of sacrifice is also a Christian virtue, one enshrined as virtuous by Jesus Himself. This sharing of virtues between the nation and its predominant religion is a large part of why the nation has been commonly thought of as a Christian nation. This sharing of virtues between the nation and its predominant religion is a huge part of what has made the nation the greatest in history.
Donald Trump’s campaign theme is “Make America Great Again.” He can, by hard example, restore the virtue of sacrifice to its prominent place in America – setting us firmly on the road back to greatness. It is not yet time to decide how a Christian should vote in this election, that time is days or even weeks away. Right now, the most Christian thing to do is to renew the call for Trump to make the very large sacrifice of withdrawing from the race. It is the most Christian thing to do because that act on Trump’s part will do more to restore our nation’s greatest virtue than anything any individual voter can do, or anything Trump can possibly accomplish as president.
Please Mr. Trump, do this great thing.