The New Frontier is… a set of challenges… It appeals to (our) pride, not to (our) pocketbook – it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security.

Responding with Courage

As we deal with today’s crisises of security and finance, looking back at what inspired us through previous challenges can help to keep us grounded. We aren’t the first generation to see tragedy, and we won’t be the last.

We’ll give as good as we get – one day our great grandchildren will be looking at our own time, wondering how we stumbled and how we dealt with it.

The following passage is an excerpt from John F Kennedy’s presidential nomination acceptance speech.

Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom promised our nation a new political and economic framework. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal promised security and succor to those in need. But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises, it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride, not to their pocketbook – it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security.

But I tell you the New Frontier is here, whether we seek it or not. Beyond that frontier are the uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. It would be easier to shrink back from that frontier, to look to the safe mediocrity of the past, to be lulled by good intentions and high rhetoric – and those who prefer that course should not cast their votes for me regardless of party.

But I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier. My call is to the young in heart, regardless of age – to all who respond to the Scriptural call: “Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed.”

For courage – not complacency – is our need today, leadership, not salesmanship. And the only valid test of leadership is the ability to lead, and lead vigorously. A tired nation, said David Lloyd George, is a Tory nation, and the United States today cannot afford to be either tired or Tory.

John F Kennedy (1917 – 1963)
Acceptance Speech, Democratic presidential nomination, 15 July 1960

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