John F. Kennedy, a champion of freedom

John F. Kennedy's vision of freedom and American exceptionalism are words to guide us today


SAN JOSE, Calif., May 29, 2014 – May 29 is the birthday of John F. Kennedy.

Few Americans remember his birth. They have a much more vivid memory of the day President Kennedy was assassinated. 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of that event.

The day that Kennedy was shot, November 22, 1963, was a horrible day for those who remember it. For those who were young and old alike, that moment was printed indelibly into memory. The three major television networks—ABC, CBS and NBC—ran the video footage of the shooting over and over again. Those who viewed it never forgot it.

Kennedy deserves to be remembered for what he did in life, not for the manner of his death. Many have fond memories of the man who became the youngest president of the United States. They cherish their memories of a man who become more popular in death than he was in life. His opponents at the time savaged his policies. Republicans attacked his perceived weaknesses. Yet Kennedy’s global political perceptions may be more aligned with the Republican Party today than with his own. It is likely that Kennedy would be marginalized by the current Democratic Party.

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This is clear when we read Kennedy’s words. His inaugural address shows just how different Kennedy was from the Democrats of today. Many remember his often-quoted “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country….”

Democrats now promote an opposite premise. They have inverted Kennedy’s challenge to Americans by promising that the government will provide for all of the people’s needs. A proven way to ensure dependency upon the Democratic Party is through dependency upon big government.

Kennedy’s challenge was in reference to foreign affairs rather than domestic policy, but even this has been tainted by the current Democrats. His rejection of tyranny was reflective of the cornerstone of American freedom. Unfortunately, it does not fit well with the objectives of contemporary progressives and the current Democrat Party leadership. They have morphed into a political elite that behaves like white Southern aristocratic slave owners, the lords of a soft tyranny.

The Democratic Party has moved past its Klan days, but core Democratic leaders today seem determined to replace the sovereignty of the people with the enforced allegiance to and dependence upon big government. They are concentrating power in the hands of an elite political class to force all  to obey our political masters, the new Democrats. “Force” is the operant word here, and a prime example is Obamacare.

State and federal statutes depend upon fear of a financial penalty to ensure public compliance to the law. Obamacare forces Americans to buy insurance coverage or be penalized—unless they are exempted by the government elite. Obamacare forces us to buy wham many do not want or may not need. It demonstrates the power of force over freedom.

Kennedy’s fight for justice and equality are now just a ploy of his party to appear concerned about the welfare of American citizens. But Obamacare has more in common with the Mafia—an offer we can’t refuse—than it has with concepts of justice. The Mafia makes no pretenses about its offers, however. The Democratic Party is nothing but pretense. It is not the party of Kennedy, and yet it persists in keeping him as a symbol.

The party is primarily concerned with the party. Dependence on big government, specifically economic dependence, is a manifestation of political enslavement.

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Kennedy promoted the flame of freedom. Democratic Party leaders today are intent on eliminating freedoms revealed to Americans by the Founding Fathers. When those who were alive during Kennedy’s presidency think back to those days, it is hard not to remember the international turbulence then: the Cuban missile crisis, the Bay of Pigs, the Cold War. Kennedy proved up to the challenge of communism. He not only was clear in his attitude towards communism, he backed his words up with his deeds.

Consider his choice of words in his inaugural address, which set the tone for his presidency.

We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom, symbolizing an end as well as a beginning, signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are   still at issue around the globe – the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty…

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of   faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do; for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom; and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge: to convert our good  words into good deeds in a new alliance for progress; to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the  prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our  pledge of support, to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective, to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak, and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed…

So let us begin anew, remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us…

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again; not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are; but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, ‘rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation’– a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility; I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or  any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it – and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on Earth God’s work must truly be our own.

These words ring true today. Kennedy’s vision of freedom still stands true and strong. Many stalwart Democrats still look to Kennedy for inspiration; let it be so! But let that vision not suppose that a victory of party is more important than real  freedom, not an illusion of freedom.

Kennedy is remembered by many because he lost his life, but he lost his life standing against communism and for liberty. May Americans remember him as a champion of freedom.

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Dennis Jamison reinvented his life after working for a multi-billion dollar division of Johnson & Johnson for several years. Now semi-retired, he is an adjunct faculty member at West Valley College in California. He currently writes a column on US history and one on American freedom for the Communities Digital News, as well as writing for other online publications. During the 2016 presidential primaries, he worked as the leader of a network of writers, bloggers, and editors who promoted the candidacy of Dr. Ben Carson. He founded the “We the People” Network of writers and the Citizen Sentinels Project to pro-actively promote the values and principles established at the founding of the United States, and to discover and support more morally centered citizen-candidates who sincerely seek election as public servants, not politicians.
  • CleanCut

    No offense, but when you use “Democrat” as an adjective, you reveal yourself as a moron. How did you get a job at a college?

    • acmaurer

      Nice try, “CleanCut.” When you call someone a moron, that is offensive.

  • Elizabeth Frantes

    Excellent article. I remember JFK, and what America was like then. By the process of creeping normalization, both parties are no longer what they were. I think that Hubert Humphrey was the last real Democrat (but being from MN he was technically Democrat Farmer Labor party, a proud tradition, you betcha) and the last real Republican was Barry Goldwater. He, btw, was anathematized by the GOP when he would not recant his support of legal abortion, because it is far cheaper than welfare, a sentiment shared by Gov. Ronald Reagan, who signed the 1967 California Abortion Act into law, with funding so poor women can get free abortions. He didn’t get prolife until he was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Both parties sold the nation to the same corporations, and now, the “conflict’ is just show, to try and convince the people that they should vote out one party, and put in another person with the same agenda, but a different label. Heads, they win, tails, we lose.

    • Elizabeth Frantes

      JFK would have been proud of the moon landing, and would weep bitter tears at how we abandoned space travel. Guess it’s more important to have idiotic wars, pay trillions to allow our nation to be invaded by all of Central America, than to advance science (after allo, silicon valley etc was a direct result of government funded NASA research). Now, if it were my choice, I’d wall the southern border, kick out all illegals, end all foreign intervention, let corporations hire mercenaries for their wars, and use the money we saved and we could be out of the solar system soon. We should be there already. Alas. We didn’t boldly go anywhere, just fouled our own nest beyond all redemption.