At the end of the Constitutional Conventions that finally dictated the type, form, and nature of the government that was going to guide our new nation back in 1787, an anonymous woman is reported to have asked the inimitable Benjamin Franklin what kind of government he and his compatriots had formed – after all, the average people of the Colonies had little knowledge of what was transpiring behind those closed doors.
That man’s recorded words were nothing more than “A republic, if you can keep it.”
The very nature of a republic – and this country is a republic, not a democracy – is that the people elect representatives to voice their desires and opinions in the government… and thus lead the country. Unfortunately, I dare say Ben would be remarkably unimpressed with the nature and politics of the men we are electing to office, and through those elections – through those American citizens repeatedly putting the same corrupt, petty authoritarians into positions of power – his words are coming to fruition.
We are losing our republic.
However, lost cause though it may be, it is occasionally useful to remind people what should have happened over the past 225 years:
The Bill of Rights doesn’t grant privileges. It guarantees rights. The only granting is that of certain enumerated powers to the government. The government is not a parent. The government is not an ideal. It is a necessary evil. The government is not to be obeyed by the people. The government must obey the people. The people must respect the laws which fall within the enumerated powers of the government.
And that is the nature of a republic, my fellow Americans – we, the people, are in charge, and the government is only there because it absolutely has to be. We, the people, control what happens in our country, not a bunch of hopped-up, wanna-be totalitarians with delusions of standing. We, the people, have final say over what our government does, regardless of whatever rules, regulations, or limitations they attempt to impose upon us.
Our country was founded by a bunch of misfits, revolutionaries, troublemakers, and fighters, and that independent spirit has imbued the very fabric of America’s government from the very day it was created. Or, as the founding document of our great nation said:
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
And, as our very own laws dictate:
No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law, and no courts are bound to enforce it.
Maybe one day the American people will remember all these things, in sufficient numbers to matter… but the pessimist in me thinks it will not be soon enough to make a difference.