The American spirit is something special. It has been the fundamental strength of people that have refused to let anything destroy their resilience. Their moral fiber is the foundation of life.

Wars, depressions, violence, fear, destructive weather, hunger and foreign meddling have bent the will but it hasn’t broken. Never before, though, have such threats as we now face presented a challenge so demanding it undermines the determination that has always been the people’s fidelity.

Amazingly wise men created a nation and constitution unique in history. Both have been bolstered by a simple formula. It’s called the Bill of Rights. Inherent in it is freedom, something that some misconstrue. Freedom doesn’t promise anything but life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The key word is “pursuit.” We are free to pursue happiness, nothing more.

It may sound contradictory at times, but in the final analysis, freedom and everything it embodies is based on law and order. Unfortunately, law and order are based on common sense, which also, unfortunately, is not very common in places where there is no respect for law. One fact of lawlessness these days is a growing effort to eliminate police and punishment of criminals.

It provokes trouble when public authorities sheepishly comply with demands from mobs and don’t follow the law themselves. When that occurs, like now, it’s implausible to expect order from thugs and police, as well as public trust in government. Integrity, of course, is the key characteristic of law and order. It has to be maintained or it’s gone. Some cities suffer every day as civil order is ignored by anarchists and interlopers. There is another public responsibility where integrity is paramount: keeping voting within bounds.

Some demand voting by mail. There are all kinds of controversy about that, and rightly so. Our voting system has served freedom well over time. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Long-time voting officials have enough experience to keep the system sacrosanct. That’s true in Greenwood and all over the country. Remember, though, there could be unanticipated coercion.

On a wholesale basis there is no assurance that the integrity of voting by mail can or would be sustained. People being human, doubts are normal. There would be no way to avoid suspicions in a lot of hearts and minds. Consider the logistics and complexity of voting by mail and it is mind-boggling. High on the list of possibilities of chaos it’s obvious. Surely it would take too much time before the people would know winners. It’s hard to imagine what kind of confusion that would cause.

Even in other difficult times the usual system has worked as it should. There’s no real reason to change. Change at this late date would be so risky; imagine the predictable upheaval. It would damage the entire nation’s integrity. In the fractious world we live in, that’s a debilitating possibility we cannot afford.

General voting by mail would invite fraud in many ways. Proponents use COVID-19 as an excuse. That belittles all Americans. It’s not amenable. It’s a mendacious ruse. Protecting the system must be absolute.

Politicians have selfishly exploited the Constitution over time. Abraham Lincoln’s perspective is a shrewd one: “Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties. And not to Democrats alone do I make this appeal, but to all who love these great and true principles.”

Americans know what’s what. Perseverance defines their character. Voting is a privilege. Let ’em do it right and avoid inevitable turmoil.

Collins lives in Greenwood and is retired from the Index-Journal where he served in several capacities, to include as the paper’s executive editorial editor.