Answering Mr. Key’s Question

Jul 16, 2021 By Will Hurd
Updated: Dec 27, 2023
Will Hurd Answering Mr.Key's Questions - American Flag.

This month’s celebration of our country’s birthday has caused many to reflect on the fragility of our democracy. Today in 2021, it seems inevitable that a democratic government could and would survive. Our founders embarked on an experiment that had been tried in antiquity but not really in modern times. Back in the 18th Century the rest of the world thought this experiment called America would fail, but 245 years later we are still here.

America is the longest running democracy. The next is Switzerland, which followed in our footsteps 65 years later. There are only 14 countries with democratic forms of government that have been in existence for more than 100 years. It wasn’t until 2001 that the number of countries with democratic governments equaled the number of countries with autocratic governments.

We take for granted how novel and special this experiment in self-government is. Since our founding, we have been an idealistic nation. While we haven’t always lived up to our principles, we must never stop striving to do so. Our actions as a government, our actions as a nation, and our actions as individuals must strive to reflect these self-evident truths that are the foundation of our country.

While we haven’t always lived up to our principles, we must never stop striving to do so.

In reflecting on these truths, I’m always reminded of how our national anthem ends in a question. When Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that became the “Star-Spangled Banner,” he did it two years into the War of 1812 in response to seeing Fort McHenry in Baltimore bombed by the British.

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave

The original four-stanza poem is on display in the Maryland Historical Society, and you can see Mr. Key ended the stanza with a question mark. For the longest time I never realized our national anthem ended in a question because I had never seen the lyrics ever use a question mark. Additionally, whenever singers ended the song on a high note, I thought it was just a big finish rather than the rising intonation of a question. But when I substituted the synonym ‘still’ for the word ‘yet’ it became clear for me.

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner [still] wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

The question mark was intentional because Mr. Key was asking a literal question. He wanted to know whether the British had been successful in trying to take over Fort McHenry. Was the American flag still waving over the citadel or not?

We need to continue to strive, to battle, to believe that we can come together as a nation to get big things done.

The last two lines in our National Anthem have now become a philosophical question. Is America still the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Will Hurd holding american flagMy experiences to this point in my life makes me answer this question with a resounding “yes.” But it’s not inevitable that the answer to this question will always be yes. To ensure we can always answer the query posed by Mr. Key in the affirmative, we need to continue to strive, to battle, to believe that we can come together as a nation to get big things done. I believe that, in some ways now more than ever. If you do too, then I can’t wait to get to work.

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America has become an exceptional nation not because of what we have taken but because of what we have given.

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About Will

Will Hurd has spent the past 20 years on the front lines of the most pressing fights facing our nation, in the Middle East, Congress, and the highest levels of business and tech.

Will has spent his life fighting for our country, and he will take those decades of experience with him as he fights for all us.

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I dream of an America where we have the smartest kids in the world. Every child in the U.S., regardless of location or age, should have access to a safe, world-class education.


The choice we face

In every decision we make, we stand at a crossroads. The path of division and quick fixes is well-trodden, but it’s time we consider a different route – one paved with unity and foresight.

Imagine an America where common sense prevails, where policies are crafted with the people’s best interests at heart, and our collective strengths are the foundation of national progress.

This is more than a possibility. It’s a choice we can make right now. By coming together, we have the power to foster a nation that champions innovation, inclusivity, and integrity.

What do we agree on?

Believe it’s important to protect free speech
Believe college education is important for success
Support the development of alternative energy sources
Believe it is essential to maintain Social Security
Support background checks for all gun buyers
Believe that LGBTQ+ individuals should have equal rights
Say it is important for the country to do more regarding race inequality
Are unhappy with the current US economy
Believe the federal government doesn't share enough information
Are concerned about pollution of drinking water
Believe the nation's infrastructure is in need of major repairs
Believe that access to affordable housing is a problem
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What’s a modern republican look like?

We’re a nation full of people with these values. If this describes you, you might be a modern Republican.

Respectful and Polite

Strong old school manners. You respect others, and say "please" and "thank you"


You give someone a fair shot


You're ready to put yourself in the shoes of someone else.


No matter street smarts or book smarts, you understand an education is important

Family Values

You put your family above everything and do everything you can to succeed


You take responsibility for your actions and believe in personal responsibility


You help others and you're always quick to smile


You don't let a little hardship get in your way


You know that we're better together and you are ready to help
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