Publication Date 2-22-18

I’m going to a state political convention this year, as a delegate.

It’s Ben Franklin’s fault.

It’s not really my natural environment. I don’t like hotels, don’t like arguing, don’t like…people.  I’m not fond of odd hours and loud environments. If you asked me to describe a perfect day, it would start with a cup of coffee in a quiet house, watching the sun come up over our slough. 

It would not be hotel coffee, mass produced pastries, wearing a button proclaiming my allegiance or being surrounded by enthusiastic people.

So why am I going? Once again, Ben Franklin.

Due to my concerns over the direction of our country as a whole, and even my portion of it, last week I headed to our county convention. Shortly before I left, I was reading the news on my computer and a quote from Ben Franklin popped up. In 1787, when he was leaving the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, a woman asked him, “Well Doctor, what do we have, a Republic or a Monarchy?”

He replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

It’s easy to forget what a journey this country has had. After all, most of us were done studying politics and political history by the time we finished high school, and a sizeable majority probably weren’t even paying attention. And it was all such a long time ago.

It’s a little like going to a couple’s fiftieth anniversary party and seeing a pair of placid, smiling folks accepting congratulations. At a glance, it’s easy to assume their life together was smooth and happy every step. You need to dig a little deeper to discover six months at Khe Sanh, three miscarriages, lost jobs, lost dreams, and all the other things that go along with the passage of time. We tend to see the Founding Fathers as fountains of wisdom who wisely set our course, but as Ben Franklin also said, “…when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests and their selfish views.” Keep in mind, this is the same document that called on slaves to be counted as three-fifths of a person and apparently didn’t see women as people at all. It’s no wonder that Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Indeed, I tremble for my county when I reflect that God is just.”

To get a marriage to fifty years requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Sometimes you handle problems as they arise, sometimes you let them stew for a while until you know what to do, and sometimes you turn a blind eye in hopes they’ll go away.

A country is the same way. Long periods of time can pass where everything just flows along without too much fuss or bother, but every now and then, an occasion arises that requires everyone to pay attention, to take notice and take a hand. History is full of countries that faded into oblivion because citizens stopped paying their dues and their government stopped earning loyalty.

I’m going to be a delegate to our state convention, and I’m giving fair warning that I’ll be a little grumpy about being there.

I’m sure Ben Franklin would approve.

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