Friday, January 20, 2017

Quote of the day--from David Remnick--Preserve, Protect and Defend--

n September 17, 1787, as Benjamin Franklin was leaving the deliberations of the Constitutional Convention, at Independence Hall, in Philadelphia, a woman called out to him, saying, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”
“A republic,” Franklin said, “if you can keep it.”

The ratification of the Constitution, H. W. Brands, one of Franklin’s biographers, writes, marked the conclusion of “the revolutionary period in American history” and the climax of Franklin’s improbably long public life. What ratification could not do is guarantee the Constitution’s endurance and health. That is the constant work of citizens, collectively and individually, and Franklin’s weary caution remains essential—particularly now, with the Inauguration of Donald Trump as the forty-fifth President of the United States.

Since Election Night, as the arrow of electoral favor wandered from Hillary Clinton to Trump and stayed there, Americans have been counselled and admonished, by voices sincere and mocking, earnest and derisive, that despite losing the popular ballot by three million votes, despite every extenuating and unnerving circumstance, “Donald Trump is our President now.” “He must be given a chance.” “We are all Americans.” And so on. Under normal circumstances, there is truth in these civic homilies. In a divided country, no side is going to win every election.

But how can these circumstances count within the bounds of normal? Many of those same soothing voices allowed that, sure, Trump had been full of outrageous abandon as a campaigner, he’d say just about anything, you know the Donald; and yet, they argued, the gravity of office would soon occur to him, settle and focus him, make a serious, tolerant man of him. Trump would surround himself with competent, knowledgeable, steady, ethical, decent counsellors; he would plunge into his briefing books and acquire a keener sense of the issues and the world; he would recognize the incompatibility of his business entanglements and the ethical demands of the Presidency; he would concentrate, reach out, embrace, replace the limited language of Twitter with the fuller rhetoric of conciliation, complexity, and selflessness. He would become someone else.

As if wishing would make it so.

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