"It's a republic, Ma'am - IF you can keep it!"
- Benjamin Franklin, 9-17-1787 as he left Independence Hall on the last day of the Constitutional Convention
Most people are aware that, on the final day of the 4-month-long Constitutional Convention in 1787 in Philadelphia where the U.S. Constitution was created, Pennsylvania Delgate Ben Franklin was leaving the Independence Hall when a neighbor lady approached him and asked him a simple question: "Well, Dr. Franklin - What have you given us? Is it a republic or a monarchy?"
Franklin replied to her, understanding how fragile it actual was, that "It is a republic, Ma'am - IF you can keep it!"
The Founders were aware of the fragility of the new Union that they had just designed. At the time, Americans were made up predominantly of people who truly believed that 1) there is an Almighty Creator God, and that 2) no man is Him. They honestly believed that every person is gifted by their Creator with certain rights that may never be legitimately taken from them (at least not without due process).
"Suitable Only for a Religious and Morally Upright People"
President John Adams wrote in 1798 that, "Our Constitution is suitable only for the governance of a religious and morally upright people. It is wholly inadequate for the governance of any other." Adams was dead-on accurate. He basically said that people who don't have those qualities will find ways to crash through the Constitution "like a whale breaking through a fisherman's net".
Order can only be kept by a people who are self-motivated to keep the order, OR it must be externally imposed by government force.
The Unique Structure of Separated Powers
James Madison from Virginia is considered to be a "Father of the Constitution" as he brought in many concepts from the Virginia Constitution to serve as a template in Philadelphia for the Convention. He and many of the Founders had studied world history in great detail. They noticed many great pitfalls in the governments and nations that had failed over thousands of years.
One common denominator seemed to be the eventual corruption of the population itself. But the practical theme of these failed nations was the lack of mechanisms to prevent the concentration of Power. They had even considered in 1787 that democracy might be the ultimate safeguard, except they also realized that every true democracy in history had collapsed, usually quickly and almost always violently, being replaced every time by fairly heavy dictatorial tyranny.
Today, Oaths of Office Are Hollow. God is Out; Government is In.
Our population has changed since the 18th and 19th Centuries, and I am not sure it's all been for the better. I believe that has actually been the technique used by those who are intent on taking America down - flood America with people who don't share those beliefs, take over the political parties and put those people into government. Solemn Oaths of Office? Meaningless, because they are making a holy vow to an entity they don't believe exists.
So, if Almighty Creator God does not really exist, what then can maintain any semblance of order? Government. In the absence of God, the government becomes God. That effort has been in overdrive since 1962. It has pretty much succeeded, it seems to me.
We Have the Roadmaps!
The United States still CAN be saved, its course can be corrected and it CAN be gotten back on track. We have the greatest roadmaps back to maximum self-governed individual freedoms - our Founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers, as well as the hundreds of other writings of the early leaders of the nation.
The Constitution still exists and it is still built on those same principles. Many people still believe in them, but not enough, apparently.
So, where we are headed, and at breakneck speed, is a society where just one principle rules: Survival of the strongest. Just remember - No matter who you are, there will always be someone much stronger.
When America Will Cease to be Great
I still believe in the founding principles. Those guys got it right. But those who don't believe in them, by their actions, are bringing on tyranny. Absent the goodness of the American people, and widespread belief in - well, at least "great respect for" - the Scriptures and in God Almighty, the only thing that can maintain any semblance of order is Tyranny.
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1834 to his European audience that, "After years of searching for the things that make America great, I have concluded that America is great because Americans are good. When Americans cease to be good, America will cease to be great."
He was so right - and we are there today. It is time to turn it around.
John Crawford has been a lifelong Constitutional Conservative. He graduated from Michigan State University in Business Administration and worked on his MBA at Western Michigan University. He has been very active in grassroots politics and in volunteer community service organizations his entire career.