America’s “Darkest Hour”
by Andy Joppa
“You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be;
for without victory, there is no survival.”
― Winston S. Churchill
When I was a young university student in New York City, I became friendly with one my professors of economics. He was, only incidentally, the best friend of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who I mention as he had authored one of my favorite quotations, “You are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” Well worth keeping in mind.
I think my relationship with my professor was built on the fact that he needed a ride to the Broadway subway; which I gave him, on my motorcycle, for the entire semester. During one of our many class room exchanges he told me that I was, “the master of the obvious.” Being rather unsophisticated, I regarded that as a compliment. As time passed, with a bit more under my “mental belt,” I realized it was a friendly insult. However, much later, I once again began to consider that a compliment. The realization that most people seemed incapable of identifying “the obvious,” became…well… “obvious.” I continue to believe that what has been lost in modern America is that ability.
Having just seen the new movie about Winston Churchill, Darkest Hour, the “obvious,” once again, became apparent. Leadership is situational. There is no such thing as the generically perfect leader. There is only the right person, at the right time, with the right skill set.
Winston Churchill, as British Prime Minister, lead his country through the early days of WWII. With their entire army surrounded at Dunkirk, and many demanding capitulations to the Third Reich, Churchill rallied his nation to stand firm and “never” surrender. Others, Viscount Halifax and Neville Chamberlain primarily, were willing to concede victory to the Germans and enter a negotiated surrender. Churchill would have none of it, and the future was written within the strength and commitment he made to the sovereignty of his beleaguered nation. D-Day could never have happened if England had not held out, entirely on their own, providing a platform for Allied operations.
It is also obvious that there weren’t others, waiting in the background, ready to pick up the challenge that Churchill alone accepted as his solemn duty to country. It was obvious that he was the only man for that moment. Although excoriated by many, and with a checkered background in his prior actions, Churchill was the only one who could have accomplished what he accomplished.
Churchill is not honored because he was perfect… by any measurement. He drank too much and had been a prime author of the devastating loss at Gallipoli during WWI. He is honored because he did what no one else could have done; that he, through the strength of his will, saved his nation. Although the comment was offered by Halifax in the movie, Churchill’s contributions were best defined by Edward R. Murrow, when he said, “He (Churchill) mobilized the English language and sent it into battle to steady his fellow countrymen and hearten those Europeans upon whom the long dark night of tyranny had descended.”
I believe it is equally obvious that we have our version of an American Churchill. President Donald Trump is our Churchill. Lest there be “wailing in the night” from those who find this comparison to be unacceptable, the following thoughts should be considered. Churchill wasn’t Churchill till he became Churchill. That is, the man we know as Churchill did not exist as an honored historic figure till he filled the vacuum during Britain’s “Darkest Hour.” He was the right man, the only man, for that enormous and critical moment. In a like manner, so too is President Donald Trump.
Of course, unlike you and I…and all the Washington beltway politicians, Trump is not perfect. Unlike Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Lyndon Johnson… Donald Trump is not perfect. However, unlike everyone I just alluded to, Donald Trump is the only leader who offers the hope of salvaging what is left of America and allowing it to reemerge as the profound civilizing force that it has been for the past two hundred years.
Obviously, Trump, like America itself, is not perfect. But, like America itself, he aspires, while sometimes faltering, to do what is appropriate for the nation…and the world. Like Churchill, there is no one waiting in the wings to take on the incredible weight of an America, driven to the point of near destruction by the destructive mind-set that afflicts so many of his fellow citizens. If he fails, there will be no platform on which to build the future of our nation. England had no answer but Churchill; we have no answer but Trump. World history is written on these fortuitous, “alignments of the stars.”
The advantage the Churchill had was the problems he faced could be seen with great clarity by those he lead. His army was going to be destroyed and the immediate demise of England, by surrender; an overwhelming potential. Our problems are no less severe. They are, however, far less visible. Trump has that additional burden of not only solving our innumerous problems, but first, even convincing many Americans that they even exist. All too many of us are “brainwashed ostriches” with our heads buried deeply in the sand.
If Trump succeeds, if America can be restored, there should be little doubt that the future, if it is just, will define Trump as our Churchill, during our “Darkest Hour.”
“Often, The Darkest Hour is Just Before Dawn”