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U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. June 13, 2018. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

In his 1955 bestseller, Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy, then a Senator from Massachusetts, recounted the histories of several former members of the U.S. Senate whom he held out as exemplars of what he believed to be the highest civic virtue—political courage. In the book’s final chapter, Kennedy famously wrote: “For without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men … have lived … . A man does what he must—in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures—and that is the basis of all human morality.”

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