Densic: Facing a crisisWritten by Robert Densic | | email@example.com
Our nation is facing a crisis. It has not appeared overnight, nor has it come without warning. Statesmen and great thinkers for centuries have foretold its appearance. According to some, on August 2, 2011, we will be face to face with the apocalypse.
The crisis we face has many proposed solutions. Raise taxes, cut spending, sell assets, delay payments. They come from points of view as disparate as the arguments of Ohio State or Michigan, Coke or Pepsi, Ginger or Mary Ann. As with those friendly feuds, the discussion often is about two sides of the same coin. Whether it is heads or tails, they are still talking about the same coin. So it is the same with our elected officials from the local cities and counties, through the statehouse in Columbus to Washington D.C.
Yet here we stand facing a crisis. Each opposing party has had its chance. Each has its hand on the wheel steering the ship as it sees fit. They have developed their proposals. They have implemented their plans. Yet the crisis warned of for centuries still has arrived.
Depending on who you believe, the crisis is a matter of spending, or a matter of revenue.
They are both wrong.
The crisis is in the fundamental understanding, belief and trust in the Constitution.
Two hundred and twenty-four years ago, a tired statesman was leaving a hall in Philadelphia when he came upon a lady of considerable respect. The statesman and his compatriots had spent the preceding summer months secured away in the hall developing a new plan for our nation. They gathered with the recent memory of oppression and war still fresh in their minds. Together, they drafted a document based upon an idea, a dream and a question: “Can man govern himself?”
The lady knew of many of the people involved in this effort. She knew of the months spent in the hot summer of 1787. While the assembled statesmen did their very best to keep their discussion and arguments from public, the end result now needed to be made known. As the lady caught the eye of the statesman she asked; “What kind of government have you given us Dr. Franklin?” Old Ben reportedly gazed directly in her eye and replied, “A republic, if you can keep.”
With that came our warning. A Republic, if you can keep it.
Franklin had additional warnings for the citizens of the land. “When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” Thomas Jefferson while serving overseas as Ambassador to France wrote to a colleague, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government gain ground.”
The warnings not only came from those involved in the crafting of the Constitution, they came from others who saw inherent dangers. The Anti-Federalist Samuel Bryan wrote in Centinel No. 1, “ … through the science of government, men of the greatest purity of intention may be made instruments of despotism in the hands of the artful and designing … ”
Fellow Anti-Federalist Robert Yates also saw the warning signs. He told of a foreseeable future for America in Brutus No. 1, “Many instances can be produced in which the people have voluntarily increased the powers of their rulers; but few, if any, in which the rulers have willingly abridged their authority.”
Both men and many Federalists arguing for ratification of the Constitution knew the history of republics. Charles Montesquieu noted, “It is natural for a republic to have only a small territory, otherwise it cannot long subsist.”
The Founding Fathers pinned the hopes of a nation on a republican (small “R”) form of government, not a democracy. The document they crafted guaranteed “to every State in this Union a republican form of government.” Their fundamental beliefs would be expressed by Thomas Jefferson in his first inaugural address: “A wise and frugal government … shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”
Our nation was founded upon this ideal. Man can govern himself through the gifts granted by the Creator. The warning throughout history is not that of spending, of revenue or any other side of the coin. The warning is in who controls the coin. Until we return to basics, back to the fundamental principles of the great American experiment, the warnings from Franklin and others will remain unheeded. And we will still face a crisis.
Email Robert Densic at firstname.lastname@example.org.