You Have Sacrificed Nothing

Author: Gary Hart

Statements that resonate, speeches that linger, are not the result of a voice, a wardrobe, a hairstyle, or a handsome face.  One of the greatest speeches in human history, was delivered by a man who had none of these things.  He had no speech writers, no clever wordsmiths to tell him what to say and how to say it.  It was literally written near the last minute on the back of an envelope.  It is now carved in stone and in our hearts.  It is the Gettysburg Address.

Resonance with history is most often produced by an individual with a conviction, with beliefs lodged in the heart, with a sense of honor, integrity, and principle.  The person delivering words worth remembering must have something to say and a reason for saying it.

Powerful truths are often contained in a few powerful words.  When Mr. Trump loses this election, it will be because of, as much as anything, these simple words:  “You have sacrificed nothing.”

Mr. Khizr Kahn, his silent wife beside him, looked into Mr. Trump’s soul and found…nothing.

Mr. Kahn could deliver that message, so far reaching in its implications, such a devastating profile in character, because he spoke with moral conviction and authority.  He and his wife had sacrificed something ultimately precious, their son, and they had sacrificed their son because they loved America, an America with liberty and justice for all.

Mr. and Mrs. Kahn and their son Captain Humayun Kahn are and were Muslims.

Mr. Kahn said he doubted that Mr. Trump had ever read the Constitution of the United States of America and offered to share his copy with Mr. Trump.  The picture of Mr. Kahn holding up the Constitution should be shown to every voter and in every household in America every day of this election.

It is the purest symbol of what this election is about.

Mr. Trump should apologize to Mr. Kahn for what he has said about Muslims.  But he will not.  He does not have the courage to do so.  He has sacrificed nothing.

Moral authority is achieved through sacrifice.  It cannot be acquired by immense wealth.  It cannot be bargained for in the marketplace.  For moral authority, we must look to Tolstoy, to Gandhi, to Martin Luther King.  Each of us must look into our own souls for the courage required to achieve that authority.  True leadership is never mean, bitter, angry, or divisive.

If Mr. Trump wishes to achieve that authority, he might start by begging the forgiveness of Mr. and Mrs. Kahn.  He will not do so.  Searching his soul for courage, you will find nothing.

In the end, history remembers the Abraham Lincolns, not the Joseph McCarthys.  It takes no courage and no sacrifice to demean and belittle others.

Many years from now, the fading figure of Donald Trump will be remembered with these words: You sacrificed nothing.  After the election he will have plenty of time to do what Mr. Kahn admonished him to do: visit the Arlington National Cemetery and learn the meaning of sacrifice.

12 Responses to “You Have Sacrificed Nothing”

  1. Paul G Says:


    “Resonance with history is most often produced by an individual with a conviction, with beliefs lodged in the heart, with a sense of honor, integrity, and principle. The person delivering words worth remembering must have something to say and a reason for saying it … Powerful truths are often contained in a few powerful words.

    Each of us must look into our own souls for the courage required to achieve that authority. True leadership is never mean, bitter, angry, or divisive. One of the greatest speeches in human history was delivered by a man who had none of these things. He had no speech writers, no clever wordsmiths to tell him what to say and how to say it. It was literally written near the last minute on the back of an envelope. It is now carved in stone and in our hearts. It is the Gettysburg Address.” – Gary Hart, 7-29-2016

    GETTYSBURG ADDRESS (key idea excerpts):

    “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal …

    Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure … It is for us the living … to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced …

    It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us … that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”


    Text of President Lincoln’s 2-minutes’ speech (sadly ignored by NY Times):

  2. Brian C McCarthy Says:


    I briefly started to think about how modern cable news outlets might have covered the Gettysburg Address if Lincoln gave it today. A banner across the bottom of the screen (on CNN, Fox, MSNBC) might read “PRES. SAYS SOLDIERS DIED ‘SO THAT NATION MIGHT LIVE'” as one pundit or another might suggest that the president’s words were too brief given the gravity of the situation. Thankfully, Americans seven score and 13 years ago were spared such nonsense.

    As for Mr Trump, his disdainful attitute towards those who truly have sacrificed was made very clear in his comment about former POW Senator John McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

    The words speak for themselves.


  3. Mark Dalhouse Says:

    Senator Hart,
    Thank you for your comments regarding Mr.Khan’s remarkable moment at the DMV this week. You continue to make me proud that my first vote for President was cast for you in the 1984 Ohio primary. Thanks for your leadership. Come visit us at Elon University! Mark Dalhouse

  4. Paul Borg Says:

    Dear Senator Hart,

    President Lincoln attempted to minimize the importance of his address at Gettysburg and emphasize the importance of the actions of the soldiers on the battlefield.

    “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”… “It is for us the living … to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced …”

    During this election cycle we are the soldiers at Gettysburg and we are the means by which President Lincoln will rest assured “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    Our present leadership (Republican and Democratic) is coming under severe criticism from large segments of the Public and in my view, justly so. I would trust this leadership accept this critique of policy or character as a valid reflection of Public convictions and seek to determine in a truly detached way if any of it is valid. It is a hard task indeed for lesser people but then we would expect more from you. President Lincoln has set a high standard and we are forgiving only if efforts are made to approximate that standard as best you can. We exhort you to view us as that upon which you solely depend. Please do not seek to bypass Us in favor of independent means of support that could serve as temptation for you to intentionally or unintentionally betray yourself and this Republic. We are not your enemy, We are the reason you seek to lead us.

  5. Eric C. Jacobson Says:

    I found online and watched the presentation of Mr. Khan and his silent stoic wife at the host’s behest. (Following Bernie Sanders’ ill-conceived end-game culminating in his wholesale capitulation, I could not stomach watching any of the Democratic Convention except Hillary’s speech, which I found pedestrian. So much so that I “live tweeted” mid-way through: “This is a terrible and banal speech. Hillary should tell her speechwriters: “You’re fired!”)

    Senator Hart has long admirably sought to extol the tradition begun by the Kennedys that says that American citizens have patriotic duties to serve the country and/or their communities as well as rights. In my first campaign for public office in 1986 I prepared and distributed literature highlighting both Hart’s and the Kennedys’ eloquent expression of this conviction. See my 3-decades-old campaign brochure here: .

    Apart from my political work, I have also done my (small) share of practicing what the Kennedys and Senator Hart preached via military service; albeit I was never in harm’s way and rarely mention it. But since it is pertinent to this comment I will qualify myself:

    A Los Angeles native born in 1954, I received a draft number though no one my age was drafted during the Vietnam War era. But in the fall of 1991, following the Persian Gulf War, I enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserves and was sworn-in on the day before my 37th birthday (my last day of eligibility to do so), and served as an Intelligence Specialist petty officer in the active reserves for almost 3 years. Thereafter I served in the Individual Ready Reserves until my honorable discharge in 1999.

    Because of my esteem for the host (above all current and retired American politicians), I take no pleasure in now sharing my considerably different take on Mr. Khan’s presentation:

    I look at Mr. Khan’s speech primarily from the perspective of his son, the volunteer soldier who joined the ROTC at the University of Virginia, aspiring to follow his father’s footsteps into the law as military attorney. Alas that was not to be because young (27 year old) Army Captain Humayun Khan had the misfortune of serving under the worst president in American history to date: George W. Bush. In 2003 President Bush, along with his vice-presidential Chen-nanny (as I’ve been calling Cheney for years though it was not my formulation), committed the cardinal sin under international law: launching an illegal, non-UN sanctioned “war of aggression” in Iraq.

    What was Humayun Khan thinking as he found himself trapped via his enlistment in an illicit ignoble criminal war being launched with the full complicity of all but a small band of dissenters in the Congress? What was he thinking during the final vote that would send him into harm’s way for what he likely sensed were ulterior reasons related to the financial needs of the military-industrial complex and arms merchants desperate to foment a new 21st century enemy to substitute for the defunct Red Menace (see my op-ed here: ) and had nothing whatsoever to do with U.S. national security?

    Having been a Reservist at the mercy of 2 presidents, who could have deployed me into harm’s way between Sept, 1991-Sept. 1999 but thankfully didn’t, I can hazard a pretty good guess what young Captain Khan was thinking (at least “thinking to himself”):

    “DAMN George W. Bush! DAMN Dick Cheney! DAMN Sen. Hillary Clinton! DAMN Sen. John Kerry! DAMN Sen. John Edwards! Damn them and ALL their fellow Democratic and Republican Senators voting to approve this obviously insane and unnecessary war!”

    Did those thoughts repeat as his life flashed before his eyes in the startling moments after he realized for certain the oncoming vehicle was on a suicide mission and before the explosives tore his body to shreds? Probably not. Probably then he was thinking of his family, his significant other (if, as one hopes, he had one) and other loved ones and trying to accept his sad fate in his last moments of consciousness.

    But if he is looking down from on high, I cannot imagine he would approve of his father invoking his memory for crass partisan political purposes on national television. Especially on behalf of the war hawk and “mid-wife to chaos” (in Maureen Dowd’s phrase) Hillary “we came, we saw, he died” Clinton. I stand by this assertion even if everything Mr. Khan and Senator Hart say and insinuate about Donald Trump is true (which I will concede for the sake of discussion only it is):

    Sometimes it’s helpful to test the power of an ad hominem line of reasoning by applying it even-handedly to someone else: Is there anything that Mr. Khan (or Senator Hart) said or insinuated about Mr. Trump that cannot be said with equal validity about Bill and Hillary Clinton (including that Bill Clinton is “a lout”)?

    None of them (neither Donald Trump nor Bill or Hillary Clinton) have ever “sacrificed anything or anyone” to the best of my knowledge. Each have had career paths marked by utmost opportunism, greed and selfishness.

    Donald Trump’s avaricious record as a ruthless businessman is well known. As are both Trump’s and Bill Clinton’s Vietnam War era draft-dodging.

    But the Clintons’ careers are arguably far more insidious. The Clintons:

    • in Smedley Butler’s phrase, turned public service into “a racket” (their Foundation has every appearance of being a white collar criminal enterprise if not outright RICO organization),

    • in the 1980s displaced (likely via dirty tricks) Senator Hart and other conscientious Democratic leaders including their fellow Arkansan Dale Bumpers,

    • destroyed the integrity of the Democratic Party in the process (yoking it to Wall Street and other members of the 1% and to Communist China over the human rights-based objections of Nancy Pelosi), and

    • ultimately placed the world into a state of terror-strewn madness by empowering Islamist militants and nuclear-war brinkmanship via totally gratuitous and irrational Russophobia and demonization of (non-Communist) Russia’s democratically elected president Vladimir Putin.

    I do not wish to alarm anyone, but in all these regards see the admittedly “hair on fire” and “over-the-top” but alas essentially CORRECT (or at least highly plausible) account by Paul Craig Roberts here: .

    In sum, the Clintons are a one-couple American- and world-wide wrecking crew. Alas, I must agree with Mr. Roberts that a Hillary Clinton presidency would likely foment the “nuclear mega-death” event Senator Hart memorably warned-of in his 1984 speech to the Democratic National Convention.

    Nor is there any daylight between the Clintons and Trump with respect to atavistic personal attitudes towards minorities. The Clinton’s “Hee Haw” ways are intrinsic to their personalities. From his finger-wagging at Sister Souljah in 1992 to their (co-presidential) targeting of the black “criminal element” for mass incarceration via the crime bill to ending federal welfare program and its large-percentage minority recipients, to Hillary’s comment about young African-American males being “super-predators” who needed to be “brought to heel”, to Bill’s comment in 2008 to a white friend that “a few years ago Barack Obama would be carrying our bags”. And on and on and on. The Clintons are simply NOT exemplary people.

    How the Clintons snowed the host into giving them their start in politics (as McGovern coordinators in Texas in 1972) is a mystery. One hint though was found in Hillary’s acceptance speech during which she recited the famous lines by John Wesley about the duty of Methodists to do good in the world. I can say without fear of contradiction that the Clintons are NOT real Wesley-ans, but merely poseurs as such, a pose Senator Hart (who IS a real Wesley-an as was his then boss George McGovern) perhaps naively fell-for during Hart’s stint as McGovern’s campaign manager.

    What I think Humayun Khan would say, if he could speak from the great beyond to the American people today is: “Vote for the candidate who will keep young men and women out of all any and all elective wars, wars for empire, wars for globalization, wars for plunder. Come home America! DON’T LISTEN TO MY FATHER: That candidate is NOT Hillary Clinton!”

  6. Paul Borg Says:

    Dear Senator Hart,

    To all of those who would lead us:

    Always remember you came from Us and are destined to return to Us. You reflect all that is good and all that is not good in our collective being. We see our image and are moved to respond. We thank you for revealing the darkness in our soul and we thank you for showing Us a way toward reconciliation with the Light. We put you there so that we might find it easier to restore the balance we so long ago chose to abandon for the illusion of transitory gain. Our suffering is a heaven sent reminder of the consequence of that choice. I do not condemn the darkness for it reveals the light and I believe it was intended so in order to make our collective victory over ignorance all the more a thing of great value. It is “We the People” who will preserve this Republic or allow it to dissolve into the Matrix from which it springs. Let Us choose wisely.

  7. Chris R. Says:

    Is there a requirement that our leaders must have actually sacrificed something for the nation, or do they merely need to be able to deliver speeches praising those who did?

    Who was the last American president to have truly sacrificed for the nation, or have experienced the loss of a close family member to military conflict?

    President Obama had no military service. Bush the younger only served in the National Guard when that was a kind of draft dodging for the sons of the rich and powerful to keep them out of the Vietnam meat grinder, (and what service he actually performed has been highly controversial). Bill Clinton was a certifiable draft dodger. Vietnam vets McCain, Kerry, and Gore all lost elections to those who hadn’t served there. Bush the elder was a Navy flyer in WWII at a time when all able bodied young men of a certain age got drafted and were expected to serve. Reagan’s military service was limited to making PR movies, (allegedly due to having poor eyesight despite the fact that he never wore glasses). Was that really a personal sacrifice?

    Kennedy was the only U.S. President injured in combat during WWII. He also lost a brother in the war. In his first run for Congress he was able to tell a group of gold star mothers that his mother also had a gold star. (This was at a time that many Americans of all walks of life had lost relatives during the war.) That loss affected Kennedy as president. His aides reported that when the generals wanted to start a war in Cuba, his response was that when he was a young man the old men sent him to war, and now that he was an old man he wasn’t doing that. Now compare JFK to the Bushes and the collection of chicken hawks that authorized those wars in Iraq which created the Islamic State. (See Eric J.’s comments above.)

    With regard to Mr. Kahn’s comments, they certainly were political and delivered with the intention of benefiting a candidate who had sent his son to his death and taken the lid of the pot of Islamic extremism. It was particularly ironic to see Mrs. Kahn used as a prop as well. The juxtaposition of the patriarchal Muslim family complete with the silent wife at a convention celebrating American matriarchy has remained unremarked by much of the media. When Trump commented upon her silence it was reported that he had attacked her when it was that important cultural conflict which needs further discussion. Terrorism aside, do we really want to favor immigrants who think that women are responsible for rape, and that their families are also responsible for allowing them out in public without a male relative escorting them? Political correctness aside, considering that over a thousand women were sexually assaulted or raped in Germany over New Year’s Eve, the cultural differences are relevant for a discussion of the topic in an election year.

    We can all read the Constitution but as Justice Scalia would have noted, that document says nothing about many of the issues of the day, e.g., gay marriage, the abiltity of the government to tax for not buying health insurance, etc. Conversely, we can read about a right to a trail by jury that has all but disappeared for all but the most wealthy, and what remains is what Mr. Jefferson wrote was a “slide into toryism”:

    Lest we forget our history, Mr. Jefferson famously fought a war against Islamic extremists in Libya who thought the Koran justified attacking American merchant ships, enslaving their crews and stealing their cargoes because the sailors were not Muslims.

  8. Paul Borg Says:

    Dear Senator Hart,

    A suggestion for the next President of the United States:

    I thought how useful to you it might be to allow the leaders (both administrative and legislative) of the most significant parties vying for influence in the US to meet with you formally on a regular basis just to chew the fat. There would be nothing binding, as control ultimately rests with you but it would be a chance to meet them human being to human being. It could turn out to be real disaster if your guests are combative but what if they are not? What if they appreciate this gesture and return it with civil discourse and respect for you? What if you were sincerely impressed by something someone said? If nothing else, it would make you a better person whether you chose to act on that impression or not. Instead of seeing them as adversaries they may turn out to be your friends.

    Just a suggestion as naive as it may sound.

    President Lincoln saw that people are a mix of good and less than good and it was the proportion of the mix that set each person apart. He new this in himself as well and this made it easier for him to forgive not only himself but his most ardent adversaries. He would do this every day. Mr. so and so who chastised him the day before was once again given an opportunity to do it again and again without accumulating additional demerits. He hoped that Mr. so and so would someday come round to his point of view or possibly convince him that his adversary may actually have a point!

  9. Gary Hart Says:

    Paul, the President meets regularly with leaders of both parties and occasionally with full committee memberships of various committees whom he wishes to convince of some legislation. Then there are the numerous receptions throughout the year and White House dinners to whom favored Members of Congress are invited. Some presidents have favored Members (poker players, whiskey drinkers) and might have them over on Saturday nights. The stresses of the day are such that he (she?) has little time to “hang out” as I think you are proposing. GH

  10. Paul Borg Says:

    Dear Senator Hart,

    It was what I was proposing.


    The day to day life of people in Public Office is very stressful indeed. I wish I could somehow ease their burden enough to allow them the opportunity to experience the Peace of their own Spirit.

  11. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Chris R,

    >>>>”Terrorism aside, do we really want to favor immigrants who think that women are responsible for rape, and that their families are also responsible for allowing them out in public without a male relative escorting them? Political correctness aside, considering that over a thousand women were sexually assaulted or raped in Germany over New Year’s Eve, the cultural differences are relevant for a discussion of the topic in an election year.”

    This provides a good basis for an informative discussion. But, can we begin by throwing the phrase ‘political correctness’ into the dustbin of history, where it belongs? I’ve always hated that phrase because it can mean diametrically opposed things to different people, with all sorts of slants in every direction. Agreed? In other words, let’s not be politically correct or incorrect – let’s just say what we think and, where we differ, try to persuade and find some consensus and a way to move forward.

    I think a lot of people tend toward generalized assumptions and that is no different when talking about those who are of the Islamic faith, the Christian faith, the Jewish faith or any other faith or lack thereof.

    Two points I’d like to make at the outset (1)the idea of allowing Syrian refugees or Muslim immigrants into the US is bursting with opportunities to improve the chances for a more timely and positive outcome in our struggle against violently deranged Islamist extremists (my term for them is constantly evolving, I should hasten to add 🙂 )

    If the Khan family is any indication, and I believe they most certainly are, that Muslim families believe in the same ideas and values that make America exceptional in the world and that is why they wish to come to America, then, to answer your question, I think Canada and the US should definitely ‘favour’ Muslim immigration with open and welcoming arms, easing their integration into our communities and expanding our knowledge and understanding of each other.

    And (2) if we are ever going to make the progress we need to make in this struggle against violent jihadism, we need to recognize that we are all in this together and our strength comes from our diversity. That’s not just political rhetoric, it is the reality of the situation in which we in the civilized world find ourselves.


    Dear Senator Hart

    So glad you have highlighted and written about this and with such a strong bite to your comments.

    I see this incident , the remarkable and impressive eloquence of Mr. Khan , the genuine loss and sacrifice of Mr and Mrs Khan , and the woeful , no, shameful reaction, of the dreadful Donald Trump, as the turning point in the election.

    Any thinking person, any moderate voter , any caring onlooker , any human being with the intelligence of an elementary school child , I would have thought could see Trump for what he is , or has become , as the candidate running in this election!

    But apparently this has not been so. Now I believe it is moving that way.Republicans for Hillary need to get more publicity , the moderate and mainstream of that party , that stretches from the centre of the George Bush senior ,or John Mcain type , through the slightly centre right of the Mitt Romney or John Kasich ilk, to the centre right proper of the adherents of Ronald Reagan , need to put country and decency ahead of party and ideology.And endorse Hillary Clinton .

    Donald Trump is the worst candidate ever to be on the ballot of either of the two main parties in a presidential election since the beginning of radio or television.No , probably much further back!

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