One of those essential stories from our national narrative takes place as Benjamin Franklin is leaving the just concluded Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. A person who comes up to one of the most engaging Founders inquired what sort of government the delegates had labored over during the hot weeks of summer. His answer still rings down over the ages.
“A republic, if you can keep it.”
The blunt and crisp response came to mind today when reading something that should concern each of us as we read this from POLITICO.
Citizens were asked in the Politico Morning Consult Poll to weigh upon the topic of the Trump administration’s draft executive order telling the military to seize voting machines after the 2020 presidential election.
We asked: “If, following a presidential election, voting machines in swing states were seized by the United States military for analysis, would you say this was …
… an abuse of power?
— Yes: 55% (“definitely” was 31% and “probably” 24%)
— No: 29% (“probably not” was 16% and “definitely not” 13%)
… an effort to undermine the election outcome?
— Yes: 51% (definitely 27% and probably 24%)
— No: 31% (probably not 18% and definitely not 13%)
Consider the data. The fact that three in ten voters —30%— seem unperturbed by the prospect of the military interfering with an election!
In the United States!
That stuns this blogger, a man who is almost impossible to stun or shock anymore given all we have seen since 2015.
When Franklin responded to the curious person in 1787 he was brief. I suggest with a fuller comment he would have added weighty thoughts about the future. Whatever was done in the building he had just left, he might have remarked, or the work just completed, would only be worthy of any of the efforts if people were robust, active, and determined to see the document bear fruit.
He would have possibly placed his hand on the shoulder of the person he was talking to and spoke about how the document if passed by the states, would require our collective attention and devotion so as not to have it stall-out. The words penned by the Framers were not self-activating. They would need the power of the people, he would add, so to make the government work. And then over the years, he might have added, the work of the Founders would certainly require a renewal of awareness so future generations would fully understand the flame of liberty must never be extinguished.
Today the poll results show something is terribly wrong in America.
That three in ten voters —30%— seem unperturbed by the prospect of the military interfering with an election means that we have serious reason to question if Franklin was correct about adding his thoughts regarding the Republic with “if you can keep it.”
And so it goes.