"A republic, Madame, if you can keep it."
I'll never forget my fourth grade teacher asking us if the United States was a democracy or a republic. Most of us didn't know what either term meant, but the majority of us answered "A democracy."
Our teacher then asked us to stand and face the American flag, place our hands over our hearts, and cite the Pledge of Allegiance.
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands..."Our teacher stopped us..., "Listen to what you just said - 'and to the republic.' Boys and girls, never forget the United States of America is a republic, not a democracy."
After we sat down, a boy raised his hand and asked the question, "How is a republic different from a democracy?"
Our teacher rightly responded - "A republic is a rule of law, established by representative leadership. The ancient Roman republic was the model our American forefathers used in establishing America's republic form of government. Democracy was feared by our forefathers, not favored."
That little exchange when I was ten years old began a lifelong love for republicanism. I began to learn what our forefathers believed. For example, during the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph reflected on the multiple discussions the delegates had during the four months of debate regarding the "evil" in governments and the "evil" in political systems. He reflected
"...that in tracing these evils to their origin every man (at the Constitutional Convention) had found the origin of evil in the turbulence and follies of democracy."John Adams said,
"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."John Marshall, who later became Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court observed,
"Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos."The reason Benjamin Franklin responded, "A republic, Madame, if you can keep it" is because he--along with the other Founding Fathers--believed that a republic would eventually descend into a democracy, a democracy would quickly dissolve into anarchy, and anarchy would ultimately lead to totalitarianism.
As of last week, the rule of law in America (i.e. "the Constitution") has been abandoned. We are no longer a country governed by law (i.e. "a republic"), but rather, a government ruled by the wishes of people (i.e. "a democracy"). The trifecta verdicts by the Supreme Court last week are important because the "rule of law" was set aside by Supreme Court activists who decided it was important that people have equal outcomes.
This is cause for celebration by many Americans. It's not my desire to damper anyone's party, but it is my responsibility to remind those who love our country of what our Founding Fathers believed about the descent from a republic to a democracy.
What comes for America next is anarchy.
Then what follows is totalitarianism.
The good news is for believers in Jesus Christ is that we belong to "holy nation" (I Peter 2:9), are citizens of a "city not built with human hands" (Hebrews 11:10), and are "pilgrims on a journey through this world" (I Peter 2:11).
Remember to whom you really belong, because the republic you once knew and loved has fallen.