“…As is proper, we … review the pages and the events of our history, enjoying the satisfaction and sensing the pride which are justified by the beautiful and glorious story of America, from its beginning…

The following are portions of a speech* made by the Honorable Kermit V. Rooke, judge of the juvenile and domestic relations district court in the city of Richmond, Virginia. He spoke of a book, a book that we are now writing. “It is a story in which all of us here are personally involved, a drama in which each of us has a role to play. I want to talk about the next chapter in the History of America.”

“Think about the next chapter of American history, the one in which we are living. A problem of major significance today is the quality of public officials, the character of those to whom we entrust the management of our country. Previous chapters tell us that in the formative years of our national development we were blessed with honest, dedicated, courageous men and women in the higher offices of our central government. America did not blossom forth, as a mythological Phoenix, great and powerful at the moment of its birth two hundred and fifty years ago. It grew and prospered because it was blessed with the leadership of good men, honest, courageous men who, as they stated when they declared their independence, pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. But now we must state that men and women of this kind and quality have been succeeded in the main, by politicians who have lost and betrayed the confidence of most Americans, and forfeited the trust of most of the rest of the world. Statesmen have degenerated into politicians, of both political parties, whose stock explanation of every failure is to blame the other political party: by politicians who cater to irresponsibility of the unproductive, enticing their votes by dangling before them a slice of the heart of a dying nation. If leadership of this kind and character, who survive politically through subsidizing failure and penalizing success, continues to write the script of our history, may God forgive us all for the next chapter of the history of America.

“Let me humbly suggest that America survived the ordeals of its infancy, and grew and prospered when its leaders and its people recognized the true and only source of their blessings. They directed their supplications and their praise, not to Washington, D.C., or to politicians, but to the Supreme Master of us all. The proud history of our Nation, its success and its beauty, reflects nothing so clearly as the fact that its leadership and its people deserved to be sustained by the divine will of God. If the chapter we now compose is the final chapter, if the story ends in failure, chaos, and destruction, this too will reflect His will.

Let us clarify the distinction between the statesmen and politicians. Those who would lead us now take note that America is fed up with politics and politicians, that the device of both political parties of blaming gross and growing failures upon the opposite party is a plain, transparent shame and we want these creatures out of our lives. They disgrace the memory of statesmen and defile the pages of our history.

“Let us announce in clear and convincing language that a central government which squanders tax money as is now being done, is irresponsible, inexcusable, bordering, in our judgment, very closely upon a criminal fraud upon those who produce the revenue and pay the bills of America. Let us challenge those who question that this is our view to submit to us a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget and the orderly reduction of our national debt.

“Let us reduce the term of office of all judges, and make it clear to all others who are paid by public taxation that they are the servants of those who sustain them and accountable to the sovereign will of the people of America.

“Finally, and most profoundly, let each one of us closely examine our own lives, thinking clearly and speaking plainly, remembering that our future and the destiny of our Nation must conform to the will of the Master. He will decide how we deserve the chapter to be written and when and how the story will end.”*

*This speech was delivered in the spring of 1975. The Honorable Rooke called it “The Next Chapter in the History of America.” George S. Benson, from “The War Has Begun,” National Program, 1975, pp. 3-4.

~ David Norris

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