Friday, November 11, 2016

To "keep it" requires "We the People"

Dr. James McHenry was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, one of the youngest in fact. He overheard the exchange from a Mrs. Powell of Philadelphia and Benjamin Franklin as he strode from the building the day the delegates approved the document. He recorded it in his notes. She asked Franklin directly, "Well, doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?" Always quick of wit and certainly well-respected in the community, he replied back, "A republic, madam -- if you can keep it."

The point of the exchange was "keep(ing) it," which certainly requires that WE actively engage in all matters pertaining to doing just that. "We the People" have an obligation to become and remain connected to our government and political system, regardless of whether we like what we see or not. Simply abandoning it because we don't like it implies that we should have just gone the way of a monarchy 229 years ago. If it feels that those who run our government have gotten too powerful, rich, or otherwise, it's our fault for not "keep(ing) it" as Franklin warned.

Demonstrations are fine, if done with the spirit of holding our elected leaders accountable and redressing our grievances, but doing so because we just plain don't like someone or we're mad our candidate wasn't elected is simply counterproductive. Commit instead to using that very energy over the course of the next four years to make positive contributions to our nation and our republican (small r) system of government. Don't get lazy or retreat because you think the bogey man will get you. Use the power of the pen, video, and conversation with your neighbors to push what you believe are productive points of view. Don't argue simply for the sake of arguing, but rather lay out your arguments in logical, informed fashion (that means questioning pretty much everything you read on Facebook or Twitter before you chime in). If we just resort to tearing down our institutions and leaders, our country and "We the People" gain nothing.

If you haven't done this for awhile, start by reading the Constitution of the United States and its 27 Amendments. Here's a link to an online copy you can actually download as a PDF. While you are there, you may want to explore more resources at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. If you ever get a chance to visit, it's well worth it.

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