MATTHEWS: The time for choosing will soon be upon us

Image from the Oct. 27, 1964 address "A Time for Choosing." Video courtesy of Reagan Foundation.

Every election year, politicians and their supporters claim, “This election could not be more important,” and make an extra effort to point out that, “The future of this country rests with how you decide to vote at the ballot box.”

This particular election year is no exception to that rule. But this is one of those years where the oft-repeated message on the importance of whom a person decides to vote for perhaps most rings true.

Though there’s no doubt America has faced brutal challenges over the course of her history — including wars, pandemics, stock market crashes, economic collapses, and vast civil unrest — for many, it feels as though we are in unprecedented times thanks to the confluence of three crises:

1) The coronavirus pandemic.

2) The economic collapse that happened as a result of the various stay-at-home orders and lockdowns that have been put in place to varying degrees in states across the country.

3) The alarming rise of cancel culture mobs and violent social unrest, including the rioting, looting, and destruction that has taken place in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) laid out in stark terms in a recent interview what he thought the upcoming election boiled down to.

“Where does it end? Where does it stop? No one is safe with the mob, and that’s why it is so important that we stand up now before this gets even more out of control,” Jordan said in an interview on Fox News. “Stand up and say it is wrong, it should not happen. This politically correct cancel-culture, left-wing mob is exactly wrong for this country, and this election is when we can stand up and say, ‘We’re not going to tolerate it.’”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) gave an impassioned speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate last week, incredulous over the fact that his Democratic colleagues would not sign on to a simple resolution he crafted which condemned the rampant incidents of mob rule-type violence we’re seeing in big cities across America, where city blocks are being taken over and historical statues are being toppled to the ground.

“People are being shot, businesses are being looted, innocent Americans are being attacked and threatened,” Lee stated. “Lives are being ruined, communities are burning, literally burning. So whose side are you on?”

In Ronald Reagan’s famous 1964 “Time for Choosing” speech, he argued that the left’s policy of accommodating America’s enemies equated to appeasement.

“Admittedly, there’s a risk in any course we follow other than this,” Reagan remarked. “But every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face — that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand — the ultimatum.”

Two years later, Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California. Fourteen years after that, he was elected president of the United States.

Reagan was talking about the Cold War during his 1964 speech, but there are lessons to be learned in current times from those bold words stated decades ago.

Should our political leaders on either side of the aisle accommodate, and therefore appease, left-wing rage mobs and cancel culturalists? Or should they draw a line in the sand, and stand up and say “no more”?

In response to the suggestion that the mobs may set their sights on the destruction of Mount Rushmore, South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem gave the best answer of all:

“Not on my watch.”

This is what leadership in volatile and uncertain times looks like. We need more of it. A lot more.

Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.