top of page

Can we keep our republic and the freedom it protects?

Freedom is precious. It was surely foremost in the minds of the founders of our nation when they created our hybrid system of governance that has lasted for two-and-a-half centuries. Despite some close calls, it has survived because they understood human nature and recognized the danger of trusting anyone with too much power, leading them to create a political framework designed to moderate those who would attempt to overexert their authority.

Soon after the founders agreed upon our political structure, a woman asked Ben Franklin whether we would have a monarchy or a republic. He is said to have replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” By “you,” I believe the great statesman was hinting to the woman and those who might be listening that he meant everyone.

A growing number of citizens from a broad range of cultural, political, and religious backgrounds are concerned about developing cracks in the foundation of that republic. The sense of urgency is growing that unless repairs begin immediately a collapse is inevitable, if not imminent.

The constant deluge of blaming, shaming political propaganda has escalated many legitimate concerns into paralyzing fear interfering with our ability to put forth the extensive cooperative effort required to keep our free republic standing. Counterfeit experts continue to waggle their fingers at one other, utilizing the growing fear of their targeted scapegoats they generate to rally support for their pretend heroes who promise to save the day with their magical political formulas.

But political solutions cannot fix spiritual problems, and certain spiritual components must be abundantly present in the foundation of a free republic for it to stand. Foremost among them are truth, justice, freedom, compassion, and love.

The game of adversarial politics, on the other hand, revolves around the acquisition of power and is largely driven by self-aggrandizement, fear, intimidation, and manipulation. While human nature ensures those things are present in every society and culture, a free republic cannot stand on a spiritual foundation comprised of them.

Neither side has a magical solution or a hero who will come riding in on a white horse to save the republic by destroying the scapegoat du jour. As far as I can tell, the most useful purpose of political parties is to keep the others from acquiring too much power.

It is a worthy role because if any political party attains ultimate victory, the game is over and so is the republic. But resisting something we deem to be bad and doing good are two very different things, and the adversarial nature of political parties is better suited for resistance than effective governance. One is reactive, the other proactive.

Our political system is messy, even when it works properly; a huge melting pot where many ideas from many different types of people are blended to create a composite set of rules and regulations, structured to support a constantly changing, yet stable society. It should allow all its citizens to have the individual freedom necessary to pursue their own personal fulfillment without infringing upon the freedom of others to do the same.

Unfortunately, too many citizens have become more dedicated to fighting over who is in charge of the kettle than working together to find the right blend of ingredients with which we can build and maintain a fair and impartial system of governance, just powerful enough to protect the weak from oppression, without itself becoming oppressive.

It is easy to blame the politicians for everything that we see wrong with our nation and our state, particularly the ones who represent people that differ from us in appearance, thought, or social status. If only more of us would recognize that we are all in this together and stop squabbling with one another long enough, we would have a chance to discover how much we can agree upon. Every time that happens, the republic grows a little stronger.

Election season is over and now is a good time to put away our hammers and start mixing the mortar. Turn off your political switch for a little while. Get to know someone different than you, especially someone who probably didn’t vote like you did. Find out how much there is that you agree about and start building a friendship on it.

If we want to keep our republic and the freedom it protects, more of us must begin dialing back the political fervor that divides us while we embrace those things that unite us. There is no better way to eliminate an adversary than to make a friend.

(Published by AL.Com)


bottom of page