“Well Doctor, what have we got–a Republic or a Monarchy?”
This was the question posed to Benjamin Franklin as he left the stuffy confines of Independence Hall after months of hammering out what would become the US Constitution.
“A Republic,” Franklin replied dryly, “if you can keep it.”
It has never been done before, keeping a republic for very long. The Romans tried it long ago and eventually forfeited their freedom for the perception of security and the iron rule of an emperor.
I fear America is doing the same.
And yes, I confess, fear does accurately describe how I feel in those weaker moments when I forget God’s sovereignty. These are perilous times.
We are entering uncharted waters as a nation with the rise of a demagogue like Trump. At least with Barack Obama, we had a petty, ruthless tyrant with principles. We knew where he was coming from and where he wanted to go. I could not have disagreed more with those principles, but we knew he had a radical, Progressive core somewhere behind the thin veneer of likability.
Trump has no core that I can tell. No moral core. No principled core. Not even any discernible ethics of any sort save the pursuit of winning–whatever that is. (I know, I know, Trump fans. I’m a loser for not intuitively knowing what he means when he says he wants to win. But let’s face it. You don’t have clue either.) And he degrades and destroys the morals of all who enter his self-absorbed circle.
As I’ve said before, we are trying to push the national easy button by nominating Trump as our savior.
But republics are not preserved by choosing the easy path. Franklin rightly understood the perilous road ahead. That is why our Founders set safeguards in place to guard against the people foolishly choosing the village idiot as their leader.
All this talk of riots if Trump doesn’t win–and riots apparently if he does win–reveals the moral character of his supporters. If we don’t get what we want–damn the divinely ordained rule of law–we’re going to have a tantrum and you ‘ll be sorry!
This is precisely why the Electoral College process was set up. It is why the election could well be decided by the states in the House of Representatives if we have a credible third-party candidate–to keep us from committing national suicide.
(For the record, I have not given up on Ted Cruz, but with Kasich being, well, Kasich, Ted’s prospects seem thin.)
Perhaps most troubling to me is that this election seems to be exposing the lack of character in our broader culture, a willingness to trade our freedom for perceived security, and swap nutritious morality for the sweet taste of revenge. We’re seeing media and political figures compromise their integrity for a taste of power, influence, and the promise of cabinet-level positions. And voters are following their lead, consumed by anger–and I don’t mean the righteous sort.
In an earlier age, Trump would have been be run out of town with tar and feathers as the good townsfolk demanded their votes be returned by the traveling charlatan. But today, it’s as if we have entered a bizarre world of political punch lines where the joke begins, “A felon, a socialist, and a madman walk into an American election….”
Except that IS the punchline. The end. And the end will not be pretty. Nor will it resemble a Republic by the time any of them are done with it.
2016 may well be remembered in the history books as the year American finally flushed her republic down the toilet.
I, for one, intend to do all I can to ensure we keep it.