Perspectives on the Constitution: A Republic, If You Can Keep It – National Constitution Center

https://constitutioncenter.org/learn/educational-resources/historical-documents/perspectives-on-the-constitution-a-republic-if-you-can-keep-it

I get the feeling this was written in the 1997-98 time frame, so, during the Clinton era? Feels pretty prescient.

«The conditions that threaten to undermine our sense of nationhood, bound up in the debate over slavery and manifested in intense sectional conflict during the pre-Civil War era, are today both more complex and diffuse. Some of today’s conditions are part of the tragic legacy of slavery–a racial climate marked too often by mutual mistrust and misunderstanding and a condition of desperate poverty within our inner cities that has left many young people so alienated that any standard definition of citizenship becomes meaningless. More commonly, but in the long run perhaps just as alarming, tens of millions of Americans have been turned-off by the corrupting effects of money on the political system. Bombarded with negative advertising about their candidates, they express their feelings of alienation by staying home on election day.

If there is a lesson in all of this it is that our Constitution is neither a self-actuating nor a self-correcting document. It requires the constant attention and devotion of all citizens. There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: “A republic, if you can keep it.” The brevity of that response should not cause us to under-value its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.»

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