Karl M. Miller
A Republic, If We Can Still Keep It
The 4th of July 1776 was not only a great revolution to declare independence, but the establishment or a country founded on enduring principles and ideas which have led to the greatest manifestation of freedom and prosperity in history. To establish lasting effects to the words espoused in the Declaration of Independence, the founders wisely and thoughtfully debated to form a monumental Constitution a years later which upended traditional rules for the state by the governed. Outside Independence Hall in 1787 Benjamin Franklin was asked, Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" Franklin emphatically responded. " A republic, if you can keep it."
Today 246 years later we are precariously dealing with that challenge, a Republic if we can still keep it. Recent rulings by Supreme Court to overturn Roe versus Wade law which had originally federally legalized abortion in all 50 states and the ruling to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency climate authority, led to wailing by the Left and the media that these were acts of ending Democracy. On the contrary, the Supreme Court is doing Americans a favor by returning the democracy to the people by allowing us to decide on policies in the states via our representatives. In short the Supreme Court is telling Congress and state representatives to do their jobs on legislative issues. The Court is also telling Americans that we have a responsibility to not only know who our representatives are ( many Americans who complain about policies don't), but also get engaged in the depth for policy decisions and get involved in the election of our representatives.The key aspects of our Republic and Democracy have slowly been eroded by the tendency to expect the Supreme Court and unelected bureaucracies to be super-legislatures on major consequential policies. Most Americans cannot pass the citizenship civics test that immigrants like my self took to become American citizens. As such, the mainstream media and liberal representatives have manipulated this lack of knowledge on basic civics to gin up and incite people to the street when the Supreme Court (to conform with separation of powers) make rulings they disagree with. That reaction to the Supreme Court and the vitriol against its members are a real threats to our Democracy and Republic.
In the last few years every element of America's founding and pillars of our Republic have come under relentless attack. Cancel and Woke culture strive to remove the relevance of our founding fathers and and any symbols relating to them, while smearing them as racists. The American Idea is itself accused as being racist while the lie that American Revolution was fought primarily to preserve slavery is now being permeated in our school and media due to the thoroughly debunked New York times '1619' Project. Certain elements of our Republic such as the Electoral College is under attack to be abolished, while there is a movement to pack the Supreme Court and to abolish the filibuster check and balance feature in the Senate that requires 60 votes to pass a bill. It has become a virtuously accepted celebrated action now to kneel or turn your back while the national Anthem is being played or to call for both the flag and anthem to be changed. More so, the dangerous aspect of radicalizing every well known incident and blaming racial disparities as being due to racism has not only been stoking racial resentments but has bled into public policies of instituting racial preferences in education and public assistance. All of this undermines our society and faith in our institutions to the glee of our advisories who hope for an American destruction from within.
All of these efforts have one thing in common, they are orchestrated or facilitated by the far left who now not only dominate the Democrat Party but also big tech, media and educational institutions. Together they are unwinding a key thread that was woven into the fabric of our Republic and the first amendment to the Constitution, the Freedom of Speech. It is through the first amendment that the idea of America which promotes freedom of thought is instituted. It is also the tool to highlight destructive ideas that threaten freedom. The attacks on the first amendment also has another destructive effect. By limiting it through controlling narratives, the true meaning of our founding and Republic is being smeared and mischaracterized by public figures, through the media and even institutionally through the aforementioned 1619 Project and the Critical Race Theory. They advocate not only that racial disparities are due to racism and that America and whites are inherently racist but also that blacks and minorities are victims and constrained by the American system.
The distortion of American Founding and why it being a Republic has been easily achieved because of decades of the aforementioned breakdown in our civics education. The very aspect of being a republic is a major reason for American prosperity, especially for so many who were not even born here. Mike Dimatteo at Think31.com summarizes an excellent distinction of why our Founders formed a Republic in his article ' The Structure of Our Government: Why the Founders Built Our System As It Exists' . A few lines are excerpted below.
'The United States of America is NOT a Democracy. We are a federal republic with elements of a democracy - one in which at the federal level is much less a true democracy. The structure of our government was created to force opposing sides to compromise. The entire structure or our federal government is based on the idea that the minority need to, and indeed must have a say on our federal government. They cannot be overruled and stomped under foot of any majority or majority party. This is also why there is the electoral college and other measures built into our Constitution - so that those in the minority have power too. The federal government represents states, not individuals. State represent individuals. As such the federal government must have shackles. Alexander Hamilton said as much when he stated during the Constitutional Convention, "A dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government."
As opposed to many countries with traditional majority rule democracies that have faltered or resolved into civil war and dictatorships, the aspect of America being a republic with protection to minority rights is a significant reason why it has survived and prospered. A major reason why many liberals and Marxists which support them try to displace the American aspect of a Republic is because they yearn to impose their will if they take majority rule and undermine those of the minority permanently. The American Republic can only be kept if the distinction of WHY we are a republic is justified especially to young people.
Mr. Dimatteo also makes another important point.
" The entire purpose of the United States Constitution is rooted in supporting the ideals set forth in the Declaration of independence. If one is unsure of what the Declaration says, and there are many that only knows the 'all men are created equal part,' familiarity with that document is paramount to understanding why the Constitution exists. Hamilton, Madison and Jay wrote extensively about this in the Federalist Papers, which few have read. Truthfully, it is a book ( originally written as a series of newspaper articles under the pen name Publiuis.
An often-overlooked line in Martin Luther King Jr. famous speech reads, “When the architects of our Great Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.” In another famous speech by Abraham Lincoln at the Gettysburg address, he spoke of America as “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” The founding principles and ideas of liberty and prosperity were not only genius but also a constant observation by America’s founders in the Federalist Papers in the conversation on determining the limits on the powers of those who seek it in government. They noted, ‘Man is not infallible and thus subject to fault’. The American experiment of ideas and founding documents to implement them sought to address and balance two profound human traits, the trait to have unlimited power and also the human trait to have liberty.
Politicians swear to uphold the Constitution when taking their oaths of office. While many references are made to the Constitution and less so the Declaration of Independence, both documents are constantly undermined and thus the American republic because they are not sufficiently justified with reinforcements from the Federalist Papers. This is because this document is seldom read or taught because it is tedious to read in its original format. All these documents are not just relics of history but timeless principles of governing. Glen Beck's book ' The Original Argument' is a modern written version of the Federalist Papers which I personally think should not only be required reading in school but by anyone who seek public office.
Many distortions of America's founding and its founders are constantly smeared as being racist but America wasn't founded based on self admitted fallible founders but on principles. While the current woke culture is to demonize failures in America's history, such failures happened despite of these principles, not because of them. Symbols like the flag and national anthem should be elements of uniting us towards striving to uphold our founding ideals, not symbols to be disrespected.
The American idea enshrined in The Declaration of Independence also sparked the anti-slavery movement which ultimately led to slave trade being abolished and the end of slavery. Americans responded in northern states in 1781 and 1783 with court rulings that slavery violated the Massachusett's commonwealth's 1780 constitution. A number of states followed with similar laws. In July 1787, the Continental Congress meeting in New York even as the Constitutional Convention was meeting in Philadelphia, passed the Northwest Ordinance outlawing slavery in the Northwest Territory. Gordon Wood said it well in the Wall Street Journal. "America became the first nation to begin to actively suppressing the despicable international slave trade". This is a testament to the impact of the American Revolution on unraveling the system of slavery in the New World.
While the ending of slavery was gradual, the opportunities and prosperity of America eventually led to being the place where blacks and other minorities were able to prosper like no where else in the world which also had slavery.
A silver lining of Covid 19 has been that many parents have been able to see the distortions of American history being fed to their children in school. As such, efforts to have a Republic that we can keep starts at home.