Friday, November 02, 2018

"A Republic, if you can keep it....."

            A friend of mine walked out of his home the other morning and discovered that someone had helped themselves to the wheels and tires that had been on his car the night before. I remembered when the same thing happened to me a few years ago, and at the time I wondered how someone pulled into my driveway, took 4 wheels off of my truck, loaded them up and drove away without waking me up. The police officer who came out to verify the insurance claim said there were probably at least three people involved, two who walked in, took the wheels off, and then rolled them out to the road and loaded them into a get-away truck that arrived at the end of our driveway about the same time my tires and wheels got there.

             I figure there were probably three or four people who wanted my buddy’s wheels just like there were probably three or four people who wanted my tires. I don’t know that the three or four of them wanted to take them any more than my buddy and I wanted to keep them, but they ended up with them anyway.

            It got me to thinking about our upcoming election. Renowned journalist H. L. Mencken once said that “Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.” The truth of that statement always becomes more evident preceding any election, when politicians and aspiring politicians promise to transfer money or favors to what they hope will be the majority of voters, from who they hope will be the minority of voters, or the people who don’t vote at all.

            That’s how a democracy works. Whatever the majority decides it wants to do, it does. The thing is, we weren’t supposed to be a democracy. The Founding Fathers started us out to be a constitutional republic, where the rights of a single individual were protected from the whims of the majority. They threw in a little bit of democracy, so we could elect people to carry out the limited duties of the federal government as defined in the Constitution, and some more people to carry out some limited duties of state and local government not prohibited by the Constitution, but for the most part, as long as you were dealing peacefully with other people, the government didn’t get to involved in your personal life or decisions, regardless of what a majority of your neighbors thought. When someone asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government they had created he responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

            Somewhere along the line, or more likely at several somewheres along the line, we started losing the handle on the republic.  Whenever a majority of voters wanted it to, the government got involved a little more in our private lives. It got involved in our retirement and our healthcare. It started using our tax money to prop up other countries governments, and to replace other countries governments. It started using our tax dollars to support businesses, at home and around the globe.

            When it needed more money it raised our taxes or created a new one, and if it still didn’t have enough money it simply printed some more, and added it to our children’s and grandchildren’s debt. The majority has voted in a government that controls nearly every aspect of our lives Very few people can name even three things that some level of government doesn’t tax or regulate.

            Luckily, my friend and I had insurance to protect us from the people who decided they wanted our property, but you can’t buy insurance to protect yourself from the government if it decides to take your money, or possessions, or your freedom to make your own decisions.

            You can, however, elect people who want a smaller, limited government. This election, a majority of us can start to restore and keep the republic. Or continue to lose it.