In 1938 Winston Churchill wrote one of the most important books in history, While England Slept.
He argued that between 1932 and 1938 the British government ignored the rising challenges posed by Hitler’s Germany.
Why didn’t the government see what was obvious to Churchill and many others? Why didn’t it make hard choices early in order to avoid major tragedy ahead?
With the benefit of hindsight, we marvel that a nation that could have stopped Hitler’s horror did…nothing. Why did the government sleep?
Today, the rise of China poses many of the same questions about the American government. Why does it watch Beijing encourage Chinese purchases of oil, steel and other resources around the world and respond only by hampering American firms trying to do the same?
Why does Washington fiddle while America’s future burns? Even worse than doing nothing, why does the current Administration increasingly regulate businesses, ignore budgets, massively increase spending, borrow even more money from abroad, and keep printing inflationary money?
Seen from the lens of history, these choices are ridiculous and dangerous. Like the actions of Neville Chamberlain, the decisions of Washington’s leadership since 2006 will most likely be seen by future generations as bordering on criminal. Churchill would have a heyday if he were alive.
Writing of the British government’s failure to lead, John F. Kennedy wrote in “Why England Slept”:
“England’s position in the world was regarded as assured. To be bothered as little as possible and to be allowed to go his peaceful way was all that the average Englishman asked.”
As a result, England almost lost everything. When the people in a free nation leave governance to the experts, freedom is quickly decreased.
On this one thing freedom depends: the active, daily involvement of the citizens in government. Where it occurs, freedom can flourish. Where it does not, freedom always declines.
Today America is asleep. The average American sees America’s leading place in the world as assured. He or she asks to be bothered as little as possible and to live his or her life without having to worry about government. He or she doesn’t mind voting, but beyond that — well, let the politicians handle things.
And they are. Which is why our freedoms are disappearing.
What would Churchill say about our generation? More importantly, what would happen to America if the people stopped sleeping?
It might be a while before we ever know the answer to either of these questions, but we will soon know the answer to this: What will happen to America if the people keep leaving governance to the politicians?
Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.
Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.