Some Things Are Worth Losing Over: Politicians Can Learn from Military Heroes

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Portrait of Davy Crockett (1786-1836), an American hero, frontiersman, soldier, and politician. Wikipedia

The View From Rattlesnake Ridge
Ruminations from an Unabashed Optimist, an Environmental Patriot and a Radical Centrist.


Here in the shadow of Rattlesnake Ridge, and throughout New Hampshire, honoring our military is a sacrosanct tradition.

When a young man or young woman signs up to join the Marines or the Army, Navy, Coast Guard or the National Guard, they pledge not only their honor but their lives, knowing full-well that the time may come when the debt embodied in that pledge comes due. When their service to the nation and the Constitution requires that they make the ultimate sacrifice.

Don’t misunderstand me. When faced with this choice it is never a happy choice. As heroic as these men and women may be, they make the sacrifice because there is something greater than their own lives at stake. For us to interpret this in any other way is to do a disservice to their sacrifices. They don’t knowingly, willingly sacrificed their lives, and you can be sure that their final thoughts are of family and home; their husbands, their wives, their children, and their duty.

So you’ll forgive me if I don’t have sympathy for politicians who crow about the virtues of our military heroes and refuse to make even modest concessions on behalf of their country. Their lives are not at stake. Only their jobs, and as one former Congressman, who made such a sacrifice, said recently, “life after Congress is better than life during Congress.”

Through the years there have been some notable instances where political leaders showed the courage to do what needed to be done to protect the nation and the world, sadly few, but notable just the same.

Most of us remember the frontiersman Davy Crockett for the courage he showed at the Alamo, even though he had been a member of Congress prior to leaving for Texas. But for American Indians, Davy Crockett is a hero not because of how he died – but how he lived.

Wayne D. King

When Andrew Jackson proposed the Indian removal act that would ultimately end in the trail of tears, Davy Crockett stood up to the President from his own political party to say that it was wrong. Further, when Jackson chose to ignore the United States Supreme Court ruling that the Indian removal act was unlawful, initiating the trail of tears, Davy Crockett was loud and outspoken against this travesty.

For that, the people of Tennessee, at Jackson’s urging, defeated him in the next election. Crockett, who is known for saying “Let your tongue speak what your heart thinks,” held his head high as he left Congress and headed for Texas where, as the song goes, “freedom was fightin’ another foe.” 

When he was asked by the media if he had a final message for the Jackson Administration he said: “I’m going to Texas, and you can all go to hell!”

Closer to home, in 1993 Congressman Richard “Dick“ Swett cast a decisive vote for banning semi-automatic weapons. He lost his seat in the next election, but for a brief time sanity reigned and the sale of semi-automatic weapons was restricted.

These acts – what John Fitzgerald Kennedy called “Profiles in Courage” – stand in stark contrast to the actions of today’s Congress, particularly on the two most critical issues facing us: An existential crisis for the planet and a constitutional crisis for the Republic.

Impeachment – “A Republic if We Can Keep it” ~ Ben Franklin

It has become abundantly clear that the President of the United States used his power and the power of the American purse to extort the Ukrainian government to benefit his own re-election and to interfere illegally in an American election.

Those who would choose – for fear of their own elections – to close their eyes to these acts are the equivalent of a Marine who turns tail and runs at the first sign of danger. That’s right, and I’m guessing your response to that was “Marines don’t turn tail.”

Yet many in Congress are running for their political lives. If nothing else argues for term limits, this does. At the very least, those who would have nothing to lose electorally, because their tenure in Congress was over, might show some backbone.

Climate Change – Caught between deniers and partisans: 

Democrats and Republicans both ignore the existential crisis looming over climate change or use it to gain a partisan advantage – both are equally abhorrent because both lead to the same results: delay, confusion, and a worsening of the crisis.

Some Republicans side with the 3% of scientists who have been bought and paid for by the oil and gas industry, denying the existence of climate change. Others know full well what “fresh hell” we will reap from continuing to ignore the need for dramatic change. Their motivation is even more insidious. Their future involves higher walls, fewer immigrants and massive military and homeland security spending to keep the hungry hoards at bay. 

The Democrats – including our own entire delegation – are content to either exploit the partisan advantages or to tinker around the edges of this existential crisis, while the planet burns; Ignoring even the brilliant market-based, carbon fee and dividend act idea first proposed by Republican icons George Schulz and James Baker, and now improved upon and championed by the Citizen’s Climate Lobby.

The carbon fee and dividend would reduce emissions by as much as 50% in the next decade, taxing the polluters and holding most American’s harmless to higher energy costs by having the entire dividend go directly to individual Americans to offset those costs. There is no guarantee that even this will be enough, but with other grassroots efforts, the continued competitiveness of renewable energy sources, and citizen action, we might just have a shot at avoiding the dystopian future that is barrelling down the pike at us right now. 

If ever there were a time when political leaders took stock of their patriotic duty and the legacy they will leave to their children and grandchildren, this is it. The nexus between saving the Republic and Saving the Planet couldn’t be more clear or more compelling.

There are worse things than losing an election. 

About Wayne D. King: Wayne King is an author, artist, activist and recovering politician. A three-term State Senator, 1994 Democratic nominee for Governor, now a registered Independent; he is also the former publisher of “Heart of New Hampshire Magazine” and CEO of MOP Environmental Solutions Inc., and now host of two Podcasts – The Radical Centrist ( and NH Secrets, Legends and Lore ( His art ( is exhibited nationally in galleries and he has published three books of his images and a novel “Sacred Trust”  a vicarious, high voltage adventure to stop a private powerline all available on He now lives in Thornton, New Hampshire at the base of Welch Mountain where he proudly flies both the American and Iroquois Flags. His website is: . You can help spread the word by following and supporting him at .  

Caption for image:
Extinction Rising, Wayne D. King

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