Sullivan : Can We Keep Our Republic?

An excellent piece by Michael Quinn Sullivan:

No set of excuses can be more frustratingly self-righteous than those offered by individuals refusing to participate in our representative republic. You hear them all the time: “nothing is more corrupt than politics” or “every politician lies to your face.” A sadly misplaced sense of purity becomes an ill-considered excuse for being uninformed and disengaged.


Let’s assume politics is corrupt (or corruptible), and that a great many politicians lie. Yet even so I contend it is citizen disengagement — more so even than any alleged lies or corruptions — that does the most damage to our nation’s future. Why? Precisely because it allows the lies and corruption to fester.


We’re told that the very elderly Benjamin Franklin was asked what form of government was being hatched, he allegedly replied: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”


A most peculiar republic it is, one which operates from the basic presumption that sovereign power rests not with a monarch, an elite committee, or strong-man, but rather with the people. With “we the people.”


It is Self-Government, as radically a beautiful notion now as it was then. But what happens when we refuse to govern?


Today we talk of looking for “leaders” who can take control of our nation (or state, city, or school) and solve the problems of the day. My guess is that our founders would spin in their graves at such talk.


Our system of government was designed for the people to select servants, who are delegated discrete and limited powers and responsibilities. The real leadership, however, comes from us and rests with us — from the people…

Read the full article here.

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