On August 27, 1776 the Continental Army fought the first major battle of the American Revolution. The British army, seeking to end the rebellion in one fell swoop by annihilating General George Washington's army in the field, launched an all-out assault on American positions on Long Island.
The British came perilously close to achieving their goal. While a portion of the British army occupied the Americans' attention with a frontal assault, General Howe executed a brilliant flanking movement with a force of 10,000 men and attacked the rear of the Continental position. The American army, composed largely of raw recruits and militia, broke and ran.
As the Americans streamed to the rear, a British force, including field artillery, occupied the Cortelyou House, a cluster of stone buildings, which commanded the only road leading across the Gowanus Salt Marsh and out of the trap. From this vantage point the British were poised to slaughter the Americans as they attempted to flee and regroup on the nearby Brooklyn Heights.
At this critical juncture, Lord Stirling, commander of the Maryland and Delaware troops in Washington's force, detached 400 men of the First Maryland Regiment and directed them to assault the British position and buy critical time. The Marylanders formed ranks, fixed bayonets and charged. They were met with devastating fire from the British and forced to fall back with heavy casualties.
Then they did it again.
Six times in succession they charged. Twice they took the Cortelyou House and held it for brief periods. In the end they were crushed by British reinforcements and the survivors either captured or forced to fend for themselves in escaping overland to rejoin the American army. Of the 400, 96 remained. Only 35 of those were fit for duty.
It did not matter. They had won. Washington's army had lost the day. It had not been destroyed, and it never would be.
Washington, watching the 400 in action from the nearby Brooklyn Heights, called them "heroes". Later historians judged that they had literally saved the Revolution by their actions. The First Maryland became known as the "Old Line" in reference to the actions at Cortelyou House and Maryland, ultimately, as the 'Old Line State."
There are no enemy forces invading our nation today. It has been well over two hundred years since we defeated the British at Yorktown and established our right to exist as a free and independent nation. We are, nonetheless, in grave peril of losing the republic to a bankrupt electoral system and as desperate as we were in 1776 to have the Old Line make a stand.
The Democratic Party has played its hand. It has nothing to add to the nationwide political discussion other than the same tired refrain. For every problem the prescription is the same: more government, more spending, more revenue. We stand on the brink of financial ruin, and the Democrats call endlessly for more of the same policies, which brought us to this point.
The Republicans claim to be the party of Main Street and the average American. They represent that they side with the individual against the forces of big government and bureaucracy. They are, in fact, a party dominated by a witches' brew of wealthy corporate donors and social conservatives, who wish not for the right to live their lives as they see fit, but for the power to tell you how to live yours.
Our economy, once the envy of the world, is in tatters. We have gone from the days when families lived comfortably on one salary to an era in which both spouses must work and in which, often, they must work more than one job. The Chinese savage us in international competition with a wide range of deliberate mercantilist policies, and we stand by and watch.
In Afghanistan we remain mired in a ruinous open-ended nation building exercise. Having gone into that nation a decade ago to root out a relatively small number of Al Qaida terrorists and topple the Taliban, we have now moved on to attempting the complete political and social transformation of a country, which only arguably exists as a nation state. Neither party can tell us why or define an acceptable end state, which will bring the fighting to an end.
Estimates put the total amount of money that will be spent on this election at $7 billion. Candidates are bought and sold like commodities. Our President tells us he is fighting for the common man and then jets off to another fundraising dinner at which attendees will pay $38,500 a head. You and I have become props used to lend legitimacy to what is no longer a republic but increasingly a kleptocracy.
Franklin famously remarked after the Constitution was signed that we had, as a form of a government, a republic, if we could keep it. We are in danger of allowing it to slip out of our hands.
In this election there is one individual who is actually talking about the issues, Buddy Roemer. The former Governor of Louisiana and Congressman has for almost a year now been addressing our economic, political and foreign policy challenges head on. There is no evasion. There is no gamesmanship.
Governor Roemer will reform the campaign finance system, getting money and special interests out and putting average Americans back in charge of their own destinies.
Governor Roemer will push back on the Chinese and insist on a level playing field in international trade. Those who truly want to engage in fair trade will have no problems. Those who want to rig the system in their own favor will face the consequences.
Governor Roemer will maintain a strong defense but put America's interests ahead of misguided efforts to intervene in the internal affairs of other nations. He will ensure that when we spend our blood and treasure abroad it is because it is vital to our own national security.
After a year of attempting to work within the Republican Party, Governor Roemer has acknowledged that it is impossible to do so effectively at this point in our history. He has launched an independent bid for the White House under the banner of the Reform Party and also via the independent Americans Elect mechanism. He needs the support of all Marylanders in making this a successful bid and in turning this nation around.
There will be many, no doubt, who consider an attempt to create a viable third party alternative to the existing parties na?ve and even counter-productive. They will say that any effort to support Roemer will only weaken the Republican candidate and assure the reelection of President Obama. They will argue for "realism" and caution against hoping for something that is unattainable.
There were, I am sure, men like that in America in 1776 as well, men who cautioned against doing anything rash and argued that there was no alternative but to work within the existing system. Thank God then that the 400 Marylanders of the Old Line were not among them. Thank God they had the courage and patriotism to do what was necessary at a critical moment to preserve our liberty.
That is the spirit we need now, the spirit of men and women who refuse to be bowed and refuse to make compromises with our liberty. We need the spirit of the Old Line.