C.L. Harmon
Prior to December 7, 1941, the American Congress held the position that we should stay out of the European conflict that was soon to be called World War II.
But after that date something changed. Congress did a complete reversal and with the exception of one Congress person’s vote, we were cast into World War II. But have we ever asked ourselves why Congress would change their opinion so drastically? Consider this:
The American people and the American military establishment was not going to sit idly by and allow Congress to do nothing. They were not going to allow American servicemen to be killed without action being taken against it.
As late as one year before the bombing, there was an overwhelming consensus by the American public to stay out of a foreign war. That number would decrease and getting involved would gain strength as the year progressed and England became the only country remaining at the time to not be crushed or being crushed under the Nazi war machine and the Axis powers. But it was never a general sentiment to get involved until Pearl Harbor was bombed. Throughout the 1930s, Congress had even passed a series of neutrality Acts to remain out of foreign affairs and the armed conflict in Europe.
Let us consider what would have happened if Congress would have maintained the belief that neutrality was the best course of action after Pearl Harbor. Let’s suppose they took the position that much of our naval fleet was destroyed and that each person who died that day knew there were risks when they enlisted into the armed forces. As such, perhaps it was better to negotiate with Japan and move forward giving Japan what it wanted as opposed to entering the war. Can we even imagine what the response would have been from the American people?
Enlistment soared as Americans voluntarily left their jobs, careers, homes, and families to seek revenge for Pearl Harbor. People were willingly sacrificing to support a war. There was an overwhelming sense of patriotism that was not going to be squashed. Can we even fathom the response if President Roosevelt and Congress had said no to entering the war? I would venture to say that the protests of the Vietnam War during the 1960s would have seemed like a small-town carnival and unrest would have been rampant. This is not to suggest that Roosevelt and Congress were not in favor of declaring war on Japan. They were. This is simply a reminder that the power is always in the hands of the people. Had the government been opposed to entering the war, the American people were united and would have never stood for such a response when American servicemen had been killed and American soil attacked.
We seem to become complacent and even confused when it comes to the power we the people yield in this country. We become angry as individuals which yields very little power as opposed to becoming united toward the power which angers us. We have lost sight that we are the people and the people are the power, the people are the nation. One person, be it a president or a congressperson, is not solely responsible for the problems we face in this country. This is a collective fault of those we elect to govern and then sell out to the highest bidder and to ourselves who have allowed a nation of free people to become divided instead of united. As long as we are at war with each other, we are all casualties and those entities, countries and individuals who are united against us will continue destroying us.
Consider that most, if not all, Americans fundamentally want the same things: Affordable healthcare, stable economy, the basic essentials, peace and the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. We currently either do not have these desires or the ones we have, have been hindered. Why is it that those we elect to govern cannot provide us with what we want and even reduce what we once had? They do so because our division allows for it. As Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. This was true in 1858 when Lincoln said it and it is still true today. Perhaps it’s time we become one people, one nation again and take back what is ours from those who wish to destroy it. We are only a lost people without unity but with it, we become a nation that is found…and one for all and all for one.