We live in a nation with many problems. We are beset by foreign enemies and torn apart by internal divisiveness. The spirit of partisanship which George Washington warned against so many years ago has become an unreasoning monster that destroys our ability to unite and function effectively as a nation. The names, the faces and the enemies may be different, but the challenges we face today are not so different from those we have faced at other vital turning points in our history.
One of those times of crisis came with the transition from World War II to the Cold War. In that era we were fortunate to have the leadership of John F. Kennedy - at least for a few years - to set the standard by which we would meet the challenges of that era and remind us that the fight for survival was meaningless without fighting just as hard for the freedom on which our nation was founded - not only for ourselves, but for the world.
Kennedy had all the advantages and the aptitudes of a privileged birth, but also an understanding of the basic needs that bind men together no matter what their station. A man who embraced and defended the basic values of America - not self-righteous moralizing or sanctimonious religiosity, but the basic values of the Republic as laid out by our founding fathers - the freedom of the individual, the value and quality of life and the importance of an equal opportunity to pursue prosperity. He understood Thomas Jefferson when he said "that government governs best that governs least," and he sought to provide a government of quality of ideas and leadership rather than quantity of bureaucracy and spending.
Kennedy came to the White House at a young age, after a period of warfare and during a time of domestic conflict. He transcended the limitations of political partisanship which had blackened the previous decade and embraced ideas which were anathema to the majority of his own party and supported in many cases only by his opposition. He was a northerner in a southern party, an elitist in a populist party, a liberal in a conservative party and an internationalist in an isolationist party. Rather than being weakened by these contradictions, Kennedy drew strength from them and made his party and the nation better as a result.