A Republic, if we can keep it: The time is no longer for despair, but for renewed and relentless action

This commentary originally appeared in Ohio Capital Dispatch.

Most of us have heard the story: As Benjamin Franklin was leaving Independence Hall after the 1787 Constitutional Convention, someone shouted, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy? Franklin reportedly replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

On this Independence Day, many Americans feel betrayed and abandoned in the age-old struggle not only to preserve the American Republic, but to extend to all Americans the basic human rights and protections afforded first to the few. only ones.

Human civilization has always been locked in a battle between the will and needs of the people and the selfish designs of reactionary authoritarians.

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America has been no different, and the forces that would drag us back into servile subjugation for the benefits of a privileged few are working as hard as they ever have, winning any victory, willy-nilly. of strength.

They have often won short-term battles throughout our history, only to be brought down by the blood, sweat and tears of progressive people.

The court of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney blessed slavery with its Dred Scott decision in 1857, and the court of Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller endorsed segregation with Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. The U.S. Supreme Court has in the past supported white supremacist mobs, knocked down child labor laws, struck down minimum wage laws, and sanctioned union busting that involved then notoriously the open murder of workers and even the burning to death of women and children by National Guardsmen.

But the forces of progress won the Civil War and gave us the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. The forces of progress gave us the 19th Amendment and enshrined child labor laws, workers’ rights, women’s rights, desegregation, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights and Equal Marriage Rights Act.

Through centuries of conflict and bloodshed, ordinary Americans, pouring out their hearts and lives, have won these victories. Now, some are in retreat, and others are seriously threatened.

Progress is not inevitable. It never has been and never will be. The forces that lead us back to tyranny and subjugation have always been with us and always will be.

By the mid-1870s, Reconstruction was abandoned and Jim Crow racism prevailed for a century. The systemic impacts of racism have persisted over the decades to the present day.

Our current moment weighs heavily. The fate of progress looks bleak. Many want to suppress and erase this painful but important past.

This is how a minority that does not represent what most Americans want seizes the reins of power and brings the boot of tyranny down on America’s face.

The Voting Rights Act has been gutted by the modern Supreme Court, and the court has allowed large-scale corrupt and shadowy campaign finance to rage on.

This year, the activist Republican court dismantled the separation of church and state by allowing taxpayer funding for religious institutions, expanding access to guns, allowing peer pressure prayer between teachers and students in schools and severely limited the EPA’s ability to address greenhouse gas emissions.

And America just saw 50 years of national abortion rights annihilated by a three-judge Supreme Court appointed by a US president who twice lost the popular vote by millions and led a coup attempt. authoritarian state to cancel a free and fair election.

As we brutally learned, in hearing after hearing, Donald Trump knew he lost the 2020 election and lied about it anyway. He knew it was illegal to try to overturn the election and tried to overturn it anyway. He knew his supporters were armed and told them on Jan. 6 to “fight like hell” and march on the Capitol anyway.

The Capitol was ransacked. Constitutional cases have been stopped. The chain of command has been jeopardized. Lawmakers fled and went into hiding for their lives. Trump was giddy and endorsed the chants of the crowd to hang his vice president.

All of this is treason, akin to an act of war.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chairman of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, speaks alongside Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) during a meeting of Committee business on Capitol Hill March 28, 2022, in Washington, DC The committee met to consider a vote to recommend contempt of Congress charges for Dan Scavino, former deputy chief of staff to President Donald Trump for the communications, and Peter Navarro, former trade adviser to President Trump, for refusing to cooperate with committee subpoenas in their Jan. 6, 2021 investigation. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Library on Wednesday evening, Republican U.S. Representative Liz Cheney said, “Right now we face a threat from within that we’ve never faced before – a former president trying to unravel the foundations of our Constitutional Republic. .”

She said Republicans could be loyal to Trump or the Constitution, not both.

But polls show Republicans overwhelmingly support his return to the White House anyway.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court, which cedes unchecked power to state governments, also ensures that those state governments can be rigged to enshrine undue Republican political power.

The court says his actions are aimed at returning power to the people and their representatives, but the court also just upheld racial gerrymandering in Louisiana. And two Trump-appointed federal judges signed into law Ohio Republicans’ plan to force voters to vote in illegal and unconstitutional Statehouse districts in November.

Meanwhile, the court has agreed to hear a case that revives the long-dead “independent state legislature theory” to further bless gerrymandering and the state’s extremist legislative regime as a ultimate authority, including over state supreme courts. It was the basis of Trump’s legal team’s theory that state legislatures could choose voters to back a candidate who didn’t get a majority of votes in a state.

The overall strategy is transparent: rigging state houses with Republican gerrymandering and defrauding voters of legitimate representation; then return power unchecked to hardline Republican state houses. And then, according to US Senator Josh Hawley, push undesirable voters out of those states, in order to secure an Electoral College advantage in presidential elections via population displacement. Or use the legislative power of the state to simply begin to overturn the will of the voters.

So they expect to continue losing the popular vote – which they have won in all but one presidential election since 1992 – but to continue winning the presidency regardless.

This is how a minority that does not represent what most Americans want seizes the reins of power and brings the boot of tyranny down on America’s face.

The privacy rights, health care rights, marriage rights, protections against discrimination, and equal protections under American law all now seem to be on the chopping block, unjustly dropped into the hands of extremist legislators from rigged districts.

This is not just a well-choreographed war against the progress of the past; it is a war against the ideals of representative government and democracy. It is a war against the very heart of the American Republic.

We must not despair. The legacy of progress of past generations and the rights, liberty and liberty of future generations rest on our shoulders.

We were built for this moment, each of us in our own way, with our own duties, to do everything we can to meet it.

For now, voters still have the flawed information and tools they need to save the Republic.

Now is not the time to back down, but rather to stand up and fight, for decades, for the rest of our lives, if that’s what it takes.

This 4th of July, I will not allow myself to be brought down by the malevolent designs of traitors and tyrants.

I will celebrate the unfolding of progress paid for in blood by patriots, who fought for human rights, freedom, dignity, justice and equality, and the true representative democratic ideals of our American Republic, generation after generation. We must take back their mantle and defend it to the end.

Follow Editor OCJ David DeWitt on Twitter.

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