My wife and I recently had the opportunity to tour a few Western states and it gave birth to a flood of stirring thoughts – it was perceptive insight that one can only reflect upon by being in the presence of such a great witness.

On the last leg of our trip, we visited the site where General Custer and 210 of his men met their fate in 1876 near the Little Big Horn River in Montana.

The government, led by Ulysses S Grant, believed the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny” was its inevitable right to expand to the Pacific Coast – America would exist “from sea to shining sea.”

Native Americans were given one month’s notice to get on the reservation that winter or else be considered hostiles.  Some of the Indians thought they had a right to protect their way of life and objected to the ultimatum.

In the end, Custer justified his actions by saying he was just following orders which basically were “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”  They were labeled “Savages” and were hunted down.  An unarmed Crazy Horse was bayoneted in the back by an American soldier and Sitting Bull was killed by a government officer and thrown in an unmarked pauper’s grave.

William Howard Taft once said: “Every class should have a voice in the government.”  Teddy Roosevelt countered by saying: “That seems to be a serious misconception of the American political situation.  The real problem is that some classes have too much voice.  One of the most important lessons of all the lessons to be taught and to be learned is that a man should vote, not as a representative of a class, but merely as a good citizen, whose prime interests are the same as those of all other good citizens.  The part the American people should play in self-government that they should sit on the bleachers and pay the price of admission, but should have nothing to say as to the contest which is waged in the arena by the professional politicians is a conception that ignores the fact that the American people are not mere onlookers at a game, that they have a vital stake in the contest, and that democracy means nothing unless they are able and willing to show that they are their own masters.”

Now days, if you disagree with a politician, group or individual, you’re labeled a bigot or racist – it’s combative and not inclusive as the definition of being a decent American goes.

“The president is merely the most important among a large number of public servants.  He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole.  Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right.  Any other attitude an American citizen has is both base and servile.  To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that all are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” (Teddy Roosevelt)

With such claims, how would President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mr. Roosevelt have viewed the actions of today’s media?

Teddy Roosevelt once said: “In Howard Taft speeches he speaks of ‘the voice of the people as coming next to the voice of God.’  It’s a laying of the axe to the root of the tree of freedom.  We have in this country a special class of persons wiser than the people, who are above the people, who cannot be reached by the people, but who govern them and ought to govern them; and who protect the various classes of the people from the whole people.  That is an old, old doctrine which has been acted upon for thousands of years abroad.  It is not government by the people, but mere sham government in which the will of the people is constantly defeated.”

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017.  He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana.  He can be reached at

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