A Republic, If You Can Keep It


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Of the many memorable quotes from old Ben Franklin, his observation on the type of government established by the Constitutional Convention may be the most prescient: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Keeping our Republic is entirely up to us, because if enough of us desire tyranny (or can be fooled into voting for it), then it’s over. No amount of resistance can stop the destruction of our system once there’s a critical mass of voters behind it. There will always be people who look to exploit the ignorant among us. And right now, far too many of us have no understanding of our constitutional system and the rule of law.

The Constitution is not some nebulous idea foisted on us by a bunch of privileged white men: it is the guard rail they established to protect future generations of Americans from a government that they expected to eventually try to exceed the boundaries set for it.

Because they knew. From history and personal experience, they knew the extent to which men were corruptible and power-hungry. Our Founders understood human nature better than most, and Franklin in particular had a way of distilling complex thoughts down to their memorable essence: “Make yourself sheep and the wolves will eat you.”

Think about that. There will always be grasping people with ill intentions who’d like to take advantage of the rest of us who only desire to be left the hell alone. So they pester, cajole, snipe, intimidate, and bully until we knuckle under because we’re otherwise too busy living our lives to care enough to push back.

So don’t be a pushover. Don’t be passive. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that if you compromise just a little bit more, maybe the other side will finally accept your good intentions and leave you alone.

How’s that worked out through history?

It’s cynical, but that’s where we are now. Our choices are reduced to a fully armed and operational, out-in-the-open Democrat Socialist party versus a neutered and flaccid Whig Republican “party.” One caters to the Politically-Connected Rich while claiming to be the party of the poor and downtrodden, while the other represents the Chamber-of-Commerce Rich as it pretends to represent us knuckle-draggin’, gun-totin’, Bible-thumpin’ Real Americans.

Bitch, please.

No wonder we’ve been left with such miserable nominees. The fix was always in for Hillary, and I’m not convinced Team Donkey didn’t tip the scales for Trump either. The Wikileaks dumps pretty much confirmed that he was her preferred opponent from early on.

Well, be careful what you wish for. No matter what else happens, Trump is a disruptive force in a system that is ripe for disruption. That doesn’t mean it’ll turn out well, just that it’s going to happen. If he loses, the disruption will be confined to the GOP (which richly deserves it and will hopefully emerge stronger – again, no guarantees).

But if he wins…

Look: much as I would’ve preferred someone else, Trump’s our guy. He’s a loudmouth, thin-skinned ignoramus who will probably do something stupid and/or impeachable within his first year in office.

But so will Hillary, if she hasn’t already (which she has). Assuming the GOP retains Congress, they’re far more likely to go after Trump than Clinton. It’s always easier to pick a fight with your own side when you know the other side would happily burn down Capitol Hill while their buddies in the press pin the blame on you. And once again, enough of the public will buy it to make a difference.

Maybe. It feels like something is changing, like enough of us are finally learning how thoroughly corrupt the system is.

For one, the press has moved from transparent bias to outright collusion. They feed debate questions ahead of time to their favored candidates, while soliciting hostile questions to use against the designated opponent.

Is there a qualitative difference between private and public corruption? I think so. Trump has no doubt cut many corners, screwed over many people, and cooked many books in his day (I’m frankly surprised that the Clinton Crime Family hasn’t dumped more than they have. Maybe he’s cleaner than any of us thought). Meanwhile, the FBI Director lays out a bulletproof case for multiple indictments of Queen Hillary but in the end pulls his punches because “she didn’t mean it” or some such twaddle. No matter that intent isn’t required when we’re talking about violating the Espionage Act. I’m no lawyer, but I can read.

Which all brings us to the Unforgivable Sin: the loss of our rule of law. Our society can withstand a lot, but when it becomes clear that the law only applies to certain people then things sour quickly. This why I went from Never to If I Must to Enthusiastically Trump: when one side gets a pass on the worst kinds of corruption and abuses of power while the other side is continually harassed by “neutral” government entities, what are we to think? What are we to do when the whole system feels like it’s hanging by a thread?

For starters, we vote against the corrupt. We’ll figure out the rest later.

In the meantime, don’t feed the wolves.

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