The american elite is almost beyond redemption. . . . moral relativism has set in so deeply that the gilded classes have become incapable of discerning right from wrong. everything can be explained away, especially by journalists. life is one great moral mush--sophistry washed down with chardonnay. the ordinary citizens, thank goodness, still adhere to absolutes.... it is they who have saved the republic from creeping degradation while their 'betters' were derelict.
In a republican nation whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance.... reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments. to make way for these, free inquiry must be indulged.... let them take arms. the remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them.
I acknowledge that such a debt [of service to my fellow-citizens] exists, that a tour of duty in whatever line he can be most useful to his country, is due from every individual. it is not easy perhaps to say of what length exactly that tour should be, but we may safely say of what length it should not be. not of our whole life, for instance, for that would be to be born a slave-not even of a very large portion of it.