A gentleman named James McHenry was born in Ireland in 1753 and immigrated to the American colonies just before the Revolutionary War. He served as an officer in the Continental Army during the war and fought under the command of Major General Lafayette at the Battle of Yorktown. He later served as secretary of war under presidents Washington and Adams.
As a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, McHenry kept a journal. On the last day of the Convention, September 18, 1787, he wrote this:
“A lady [later identified as Elizabeth Powel of 224 South Third Street in Philadelphia] asked Dr. [Benjamin] Franklin, ‘Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy?’ Franklin replied, “A republic, Madam … if you can keep it.’”
We can’t keep it. We won’t keep it. By our willfully ignoring all that’s been done to undo the republic and its Constitution over the past 233 years, we refuse to keep it. People who’ve never read the Constitution swear to uphold it. We believe them. Then we believe everything they promise us in their shameless efforts to stay in office. Thereafter, we re-elect them, again and again.
In response to our collective amnesia, it’s easy to imagine Benjamin Franklin rising up and giving us a collective bitch-slap. It’s equally easy to imagine his fellow signatories of the Constitution flopping in their graves like freshly caught flounder.
And please be absolutely certain of this: When the shit goes down, we’ll assemble a circular firing squad.
I won’t say I told you so.