well what have we got?
“Republic” said Ben Franklin,
“if you can keep it”
Dr. Benjamin Franklin’s famous response to a question from a Mrs. Elizabeth Willing Powel when after the Constitution Convention, she asked, “Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy?” was “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Almost 50 years ago now, Alistair Cooke, in his book America, wrote, “The Republic has now been kept for 200 years, but not without considerable disturbance to the public repose.”
I should say so.
James Madison wrote that, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.”
For almost 250 years this is more or less worked out.
What is often missed about Dr. Franklin’s comment on “If you can keep it ..” is his second line.
““And why not keep it?” Mrs. Powel asked.
“Because the people, on tasting the dish, are always disposed to eat more of it than does them good.” replied Dr. Franklin.