As I watched the primary election results coming in from neighboring New Hampshire, a stark realization enveloped me — I could be witnessing the loss of the soul of America.

For some reason lyrics from an old Peter, Paul & Mary song came into my head: “Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing? Where have all the flowers gone long time ago …Oh, when will they ever learn?”

For the first and only time in my life, I decided not to watch the victory speeches of the current leaders of our two political parties. Neither represent my America, the one I know and still love. With a heavy heart, I went to bed early.

Next morning, as promised by our creator, the sun did come up again.

Something told me go to the pages of history to seek the words needed to explain to my readers the folly and dangers of the moment.

“Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restrains it,” Tocqueville wrote. “Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference; while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”

And Tocqueville again: “Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.”

The victorious candidate of the Democrats in New Hampshire, by a 2-1 margin, is the only official personally avowed socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont. He appeals to our worst weakness, envy. Sanders calls for class warfare, a “revolution” and destruction of our system of free-market capitalism.

If you are not quite ready to give up on the “American Dream,” then you may choose from an equally offensive Republican alternative.

TV star Donald Trump holds his new party and conservatism hostage. A vulgar man of questionable character, he taps into another weakness, fear.

Ever the opportunist, Trump seizes the palpable anxiety of a nervous nation to lead it down a path of bigotry, selfishness and deeper division. He will “wall us in,” and suddenly ban all immigration into our country of immigrants.

Envy and fear — two of our worst instincts. As I searched through the pages of history for an explanation of our dilemma, and a summation of why we are where we are, I found it again in the words of Tocqueville: “Society was cut in two; those who had nothing united in common envy; those who had anything united in common terror.”

I am convinced that America now stands at the brink. After my last column, I received a call from a reader in Winslow. She said, “What are we going to do, we’ve lost our country? Can’t we do something?”

We talked for some time, and we both cried for the America we knew and still love.

We agreed that faith, strength, compassion, honesty should still be the characteristics that we seek in our next president. That we are “our brother’s keeper” but that we are all entitled to nothing more than individual opportunity through life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I told the caller to never lose hope. America is not lost yet.

Then, I saw a message of hope emerging from the Republican primary.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, laboring for months in virtual media obscurity, was being interviewed on his surprisingly strong runner-up showing in New Hampshire. In a sea of negativity,Kasich had delivered the only positive campaign.

Kasich told the interviewer, “Don’t give up on the American voters. We shined a light into the darkness in New Hampshire, and look what happened. We brought our message of hope to every voter that we could find. And they responded.”

Kasich, a proven job creator, tax cutter and compassionate guy, also has the foreign policy knowledge and experience gained while he was in Congress to be a trusted commander-in-chief.

He’s a responsible Republican who seeks to “leave nobody behind” while forging a new united America — exactly what we need.

Kasich explained his approach to elections. “It’s simple — I just search my mind and heart, then be myself. Then regardless of the outcome, I am at peace.”

A man like Kasich still gives us hope. The battle for the heart and soul of America in the year 2016 is not over — it is just beginning.

God, heal our land.

Don Roberts, a former city councilor and former vice chairman of the Charter Commission in Augusta, is a trustee of the Greater Augusta Utility District.

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