Letter: Men, women of courage nowhere to be found

From: Bob Pitman


At the end of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked, “Well, doctor, what have we got — a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

A republic is a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.

The American republic has survived 231 years thanks to the carefully enumerated separation of powers among the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Its survival also has depended on the extraordinary political courage of leaders such as:

  • Our early presidents who refused to allow foreign powers to meddle in our government
  • President Abraham Lincoln, who refused to allow the dissolution of the Union
  • Seven Republican senators who sacrificed their careers by refusing to support the removal of President Andrew Johnson during his politically motivated 1868 impeachment trial
  • U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, who led a delegation informing Richard Nixon in 1974 that he could not survive impeachment, and persuaded him to resign
  • The overwhelmingly Democratic U.S. Senate that refused to support FDR’s Supreme Court packing plan in 1937

We now appear headed for a constitutional crisis caused by a president who:

  • Refuses to accept the overwhelming assessment of our intelligence community that a foreign adversary meddled in the 2016 election in favor of one presidential candidate
  • Has demonstrated that he will do everything in his power to obstruct an investigation into his alleged misdeeds

Despite ominous warning signs that the very rule of law in this country is under attack, the current congressional majority has shown great timidity in defending it. Men (and women) of courage are nowhere in sight.

So we are now faced with the same question Benjamin Franklin posed 231 years ago:

“Our Republic, will we keep it?”