“A Republic, If You Can Keep It”

Flag Gift

Melissa and I woke up this morning to find that every house in our neighborhood had a small American Flag in its yard. The flags are gifts from David Ramadan, Republican candidate for the 87th District seat in the Virginia Senate.

I don’t decide who to vote for on the basis of cute little gestures like this—so please don’t read this as an endorsement. My political endorsements will come out in September as usual, and I have not yet begun a serious review of the candidates. However, this flag is a nice little reminder from Mr. Ramadan about what makes America great: We choose our leaders, and we are the source of their power. The independence of the individual is as much what we celebrate today as our national independence from English rule.

Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, recorded that a woman asked Benjamin Franklin at convention’s close whether the delegates had given the American people a monarchy or a republic. McHenry recorded Franklin’s typically pithy response: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

We can only continue to be our own political sovereigns as long as we the people keep ourselves educated and involved. We have the choice to keep our republic, founded on individual liberty and the sovereignty of the people, or to give it up—as many already have—to a committee of nominally-elected monarchs in Washington. Today is a good day to remember that the American experiment’s continued success relies not only on our independence from outside monarchs, which we gained well-over two centuries ago, but on our active efforts as individual sovereigns to prevent the emergence of a new totalitarianism in Washington.

Our government is still clothed in the garb of a republic, but more and more our representatives behave as if they are the American sovereigns and are un-bound by any limits on their authority. Many have forgotten that we are the sovereigns, we make the republic, and it is our job to keep it.

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.