Daniel Suddeath

Daniel Suddeath

When you think of freedom, what comes to mind? Who gets the credit for giving you that freedom, if you do in fact believe that you are free?

While no one will ever truly be completely free from rules and consequences, we are blessed to enjoy an array of liberties in this country. We’ve fought wars against other nations to secure and protect our freedom, and we even engaged in a civil war to liberate those oppressed and enslaved by our own citizens.

We typically credit the military for our freedom. We celebrate the sacrifices of our veterans and they deserve our praise, respect and admiration for risking, and in some cases, losing their lives to protect the foundation of the United States.

But sustaining this country and pushing it forward isn’t just the job of our armed forces. We, the people, must protect the philosophies and principles that truly liberate us.

A year ago, most of us watched in horror as a mob descended upon our Capitol, attempting to disrupt one of the most important facets of our independence — the peaceful transfer of power following a fair election.

The actions were based on a lie. Former President Donald Trump, attempting to keep his position, falsely told Americans that our election wasn’t fair. He said the Democrats cheated, and that Joe Biden stole the election.

If you haven’t accepted the fact that this scenario portrayed by Trump was in fact a lie, it’s time to do some soul searching. Do you believe in freedom? Do you believe in the right of the people to choose their leaders?

This is where we protect our country. Investigation after investigation and court case after court case have proven the 2020 election wasn’t decided by fraud. It was decided by Americans doing what our country was founded upon — choosing their elected officials with a ballot and not a rifle or a riot.

We didn’t fight the Revolutionary War so we could have a nonstop cycle of violence if we as a nation didn’t approve of our leadership. It was fought so that the people could vote for representation, and that those votes would matter.

Too much unchecked rhetoric has distorted our history and threatened our future. We can’t see every issue through the lens of Democrat or Republican.

The false equivalence of justifying the actions of the Capitol mob because of racial justice protests must be dispelled. Yes, if someone inflicted violence upon another during a protest or riot, regardless of the reasoning, that person should be held to legal account. But no, protesting over questionable if not illegal police actions against people of color is not in the same realm as storming the Capitol to attempt to overturn an election.

And while perhaps not all those who found themselves in that Jan. 6 mob went to Washington, D.C. with such intent, many did. You don’t show up with weapons and a noose to throw a friendly rally.

We cannot accept such actions and beliefs, even if that means making some hard decisions. As we enter the 2022 election cycle, we must ask candidates what their beliefs are when it comes to our election system. If they spout a lie about a rigged system without proof, they are not fit to hold office.

We cannot sit by idly and support changes that could threaten legitimate election results. We cannot allow a small group of people to decide that the will of the people should be ignored.

We are the United States of America. We are not the United States of Trump, or of Clinton, or of Obama, or of Biden.

Elected officials come and go, but what sustains our freedom is a system of checks and balances. That system was threatened last year, and though it was shaken, it survived.

It will only continue to survive if we protect it.

Our first President, George Washington, has been referenced quite a bit over the past few years. One of his most famous quotes still rings true today:

“Guard against the impostures of pretend patriotism.”

Suddeath is the editor of the News and Tribune. He can be reached at 812-206-2130, or by email at daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com.

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