Just as the Constitutional Convention closed in 1787, Dr. James McHenry recorded this anecdote: Franklin was walking down the street outside of Independence Hall, when a woman asked him whether our new government would be a monarchy or a republic. A republic. If you can keep it, was his famed answer, meaning, that it took much more citizen responsibility, involvement, and engagement to maintain a republic than a monarchy. Franklin’s response is a punchier snarkier version of Jefferson’s, If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to remain informed.
The Founding Fathers were well aware of the effort a democracy would demand of its electorate. They’ve warned us frequently about the risks and dangers. I’m afraid we are failing to remain informed. Whether it is the McConnell corporatist authoritarians who want to gerrymand a permanent majority and suppress the vote of all but a minority or the faux populism of Bannon and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber in order to enrich themselves, we may soon succumb to their gaslighting and wake up one morning suborned of our precious rights and freedoms.
For a certain group of our fellow citizens trading the rights and freedoms of the rest of us to prevent a woman they don’t know from having an abortion for reasons they are suspicious of maybe worth it. And others have traded away our rights and freedoms because those who would’ve protected them from further encroachment (cough cough Clinton cough cough) weren’t pure enough so living in hell is preferable to limbo or purgatory if you can’t have heaven immediately.