Reading Ron Chernow’s magnificent biography of George Washington, I find myself getting emotional over the example of the men who led The American Revolution.
They weren’t perfect by any means. They were motivated by economic self-interest as much as by idealism, and they were hypocrites. They took the field in their great war for liberty accompanied by slaves. They allowed blacks to fight beside them in the Continental Army without the slightest intention of allowing those blacks to share fully in the fruits of the victory they might win together.
But when push came to shove, time and time again they transcended themselves. They got caught up and swept along by the idea of liberty and it changed them, moved them to do fine and noble and courageous things, things virtually unprecedented in history and in their own lives.
They were big men, capable of rising to big occasions, big challenges. In American politics today there are no men or women as big as they were. We are squandering the great gift they left to posterity.