Fred Henneke, Attorney & Counselor-At-Law
Benjamin Franklin is reported to have been asked, after the Constitution was approved by the constitutional convention, what type of government had been formed. His response – “A republic, if you can keep it.” Never, in the 230 years since the adoption of the Constitution, has Franklin’s answer been in such doubt.
The Constitution contains no direct references to political parties, or factions as they were called then. However, they were already present. There were serious and hard-fought differences during the Convention over political power for small states versus large states, slave states against free states, the role and authority of the president, etc. Compromises were reached on behalf of the PEOPLE that permitted the Constitution to be approved by the Convention. Many of the same issues were fought out between the Federalists and the Anti-federalists at the ratifying conventions held in each state. Those disputes resulted in the Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. Disagreements were resolved between factions for the greater good of the PEOPLE and the new Nation.
The Framers of the Constitution believed that the persons that populated the Federal government – the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the lesser Courts, and the Executive branch, specially the Presidency, would make their decisions based not on their personal interests, or the interests of their state or any particular group, but the interests of the PEOPLE and the NATION. Not everyone fortunate to occupy those positions has adhered to that standard but, as a whole, enough have done so to allow our Nation to thrive and grow. Despite our shortcomings, America is still the preferred destination of countless millions hoping to better heir life and the lives of their families.
However, the siren songs of Re-Election and Electoral Dominance have replaced the goal of what is best and good for the Nation. Nothing is done by Congress or the Executive branch to address the needs of the Nation. Instead of solutions, what issues forth are rocks and names and recriminations. The respective leaders of the Houses of Congress refuse to allow legislation that contains potentilal solutions to come up for a vote, or even debate, lest members of their chosen faction put themselves on record on a critical issue and damage their re-election changes and the dominance of that particular faction. Solutions to crying needs are buried beneath the altar of hyper partisanship. Sound bites and insults are valued more than rational, serious debate and (dare I say the word) compromise.
As an undisputed example, every member of Congress and every relevant official in the Executive branch acknowledges and bemoans the fact that our immigration laws are broken beyond band aids and seriously negatively impact out country. Yet, nothing is done to fix the problem. No leadership from the President, no willingness on the part of Congress to debate and address solutions. Who, among all these persons placed in positions of leadership, is willing to take an electoral risk to serve the NATION?
Rather than seriously investigate, discuss and solve the problems facing our Nation, the men and women we selected to represent us in Washington would rather call persons in the other faction insulting names, devise demeaning nicknames for their opponents, and engage in rampant, unsubstantiated theories and accusations. You get more play on the cable news stations and by various radio commentators by ridiculing the other side and making up demeaning nicknames than by presenting reasoned, legitimate solutions. Solutions don’t stick – they require thought and analysis; insults and demeaning nicknames are easy to remember.
Returning to Franklin’s response, how long can our Republic survive without reasoned, serious solutions to problems that grow more serious by the day? I fear that time when we can no longer reclaim our Republic is fast approaching. The solution lies only at the ballot box. The time for action and courage by We, the People is fast drawing near. Only by preforming our fundamental duty as citizens of carefully and thoughtfully VOTING can we prevail.