The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

A Republic We Can Keep

When he left the Constitutional Convention, Ben Franklin was asked by a woman what type of government the convention delegates had designed for the still-young country. The woman’s name has been lost to history, but Franklin responded with one of the most well-known quotes in our nation’s history-“A republic, if you can keep it.”

Tomorrow marks the 234th year of our nation’s existence, and our republic has endured-through war, through depression, through recession. There’s no doubt that we remain the greatest, strongest nation in human history and that, while not perfect, we remain the last, best hope for many. But what are we leaving for the next generation? Will our nation endure its latests attacks-not just from the weapons of war, but from within?

When the Founders signed the Declaration of Independence, they codified the idea that government exists by permission of the people, who voluntarily give up some of their rights to create an orderly society. There are natural rights, however-life, liberty, and the ability to pursue invididual happiness-that cannot be given to a governmental entity because they are not given by a governmental entity. Today, the attack on these rights represents the single greatest threat to the continuation of our country. Operating within a government that has as its foremost interest its own preservation, some of our leaders would rather seek to subordinate our natural rights to preserve their individual power while others do nothing to rise in defense of those rights. They seek to interject themselves into our most personal and private decisions in an attempt to show that, contrary to what the Founders believed, government knows better than the individual what is best.

These leaders want the individual to place their faith in the government, and to fear its power. There’s two things, though, that they’ve forgotten.

The first is that our help doesn’t come from government; rather, it comes from God-our Creator and grantor of our natural rights. It was Him who our Founders looked to for guidance in formulating the American experiment, and it’s by His guidance that we continue to stand today. No matter how many would rather deny it, our country is a nation founded under God, and according to His purpose.

The second is that the American people have no tolerance for any system of governance that seeks to, as the Founders wrote, reduce us to vassals of a despotic state. In fact, the Declaration tell us that when our government seeks to do just that, it is our God-given right and duty to throw it off in favor of new leadership that will preserve our rights and our freedoms-not through warfare and violence, but through the peaceful removal and transfer of power that is the hallmark of our political system.

For this Independence Day, as we celebrate our nation’s birth and heritage, let us also examine our future. Is our current course sustainable? Will the republic that we were gifted with remain for the enjoyment and betterment of not just those around the world, but our future generations as well?

And if the answer to those questions is no, then let us pledge anew our lives, fortunes, and honor to turn us from the dangerous path we are heading down. Let us work so that when our children ask what kind of country we have left them, our answer will be “A republic, that you can keep.”




Written by Coby Dillard

July 3, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Editorials

4 Responses

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  1. Seriously, this Tea Party obsession with the founding fathers is a little ridiculous. They were a collection of individuals that disagreed more than they agreed politically, they believed in the inferiority of non-white races and women, modern post-industrial capitalism was a distant future, and they owned copious amounts of property which they used to bully those without property.

    What about any of that gives them more authority over the present political situation than those that live in the here and the now? I’d trust John Paul Stevens over any of them any day of the week.


    July 3, 2010 at 2:06 pm

  2. That’s not a Tea Party obsession (well, at least it’s not now; I’ve learned a bit in a year). A lot of what they said back then has a lot of relevance-and some warning-to the things we’re dealing with today.

    Coby Dillard

    July 3, 2010 at 2:13 pm

  3. Sure. But it’s simply of limited relevance. I can (and do) say the same thing about Karl Marx (visionary, much is still relevant), but the level of hero-worship of the founding fathers is a bit over the top. The big challenges that face us relate to economic oligarchy…and that is simply not something that the Founding Fathers ever considered. They regarded corporations as extensions of state, granted specific charters to do specific tasks, remaining firmly under state control.

    With this, as well as on the many of the other big challenges of the day–racism, political representation, globalism, the environment–the founding fathers are simply silent, or even on the wrong side of history.


    July 3, 2010 at 2:56 pm

  4. Well, of course they’d be silent on environmental issues and globalism…they didn’t have to contend with those things. The Founders could never have imagined anything like Deepwater Horizon, so their silence on those issues doesn’t surprise or bother me.

    Coby Dillard

    July 3, 2010 at 7:53 pm

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