September 24, 2022

“A Republic, If You Can Keep It.” Game On!

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

So, we have reached that moment in history about which Benjamin Franklin warned 235 years ago. We had a Republic “if” we could keep it, he announced to a waiting crowd in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It was a big “if.”

While Franklin was pleased with what the framers had created, he was not optimistic that the great American experiment would endure. He expressed his concern quite forthrightly, “I believe that this (our new constitutional democracy) is likely to be well administered for a course of years and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.” 

So, what was Franklin saying; what did he mean? Franklin knew that the entire foundation of our constitutional democracy (our republic) would depend on politicians who would not deliberately scheme to subvert it, AND on a citizenry that would not stand for any faction (think political Party) that would condone, let alone embrace, any affront to our constitutional democracy.

To a remarkable degree, America has remained loyal to its constitutional democracy. It has, however, often been a difficult journey. Remember, about 20% of the American colonists were unsympathetic to America’s dash to freedom and were loyal to the Crown. Even on the eve of America’s entry into World War Two, the American-German Bund rallies were eerily similar to Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies. For nearly a hundred years, the Klan was little more than the terrorist wing of the Democratic Party in the racially divided south. Yes, we’ve had anarchists, Marxists, Birchers, and others who would have Ben Franklin and our other founders turning over in their graves.

Nonetheless, these flirtations with authoritarianism and other anti-democratic movements have always been fringe movements. The only American political leader who has openly and aggressively tried to subvert our constitutional order, who sent supporters to try to stop the peaceful transfer of power in our country, has, so far, failed in his efforts, but not for want of trying.

Franklin understood that the new American republic would only endure if the preponderance of the American People remained steadfast in their commitment to the constitutional government he and the other founders had bequeathed to us. He had his doubts.

He feared, correctly, that human nature being what was (and is) would, sooner or later, produce political actors and opportunists who would sacrifice American constitutional democracy in the age-old quest for power. 

And that is, indeed, where we find ourselves today. There is no credible evidence that any significant election fraud occurred in the last presidential election. Indeed, there is no finding that any state in the nation improperly certified their electors to the electoral college.  On the contrary, the preponderance of evidence suggests that the 2020 presidential election was the most secure in our history, notwithstanding attempts by politicians in some states to submit the names of fake electors to the Archives of the United States.

However, the current leader of the Republican Party, and former President of the United States, declared before the 2020 election that if he were to lose, it would be because the election was rigged. He told anyone who would listen there was no way the American People would elect Joe Biden over him.  He made the same absurd claim before the 2016 Trump-Clinton election, but he won that one (in the electoral college) fair and square. 

Trump’s own Justice Department, his own Department of Homeland Security, his own election campaign officials, and virtually every court in the land to which he took his case found that no credible case had been made that the election had been stolen, nor was there any justification for claiming that it was. Indeed, when in court and away from the television cameras, the former President’s attorneys never alleged election fraud because to do so in court without any evidence of fraud would risk censure by the court. 

Even Trump’s top data analysts told him he was going to lose the election. The only relevant attempt at fraud concerning the 2020 election has been the outrageous attempt to scuttle the peaceful transfer of power by the former President and his acolytes in Congress. 

There are today scores of Republican candidates who, in order to win Trump’s endorsement, still deny the results of the 2020 presidential election. That is the price a candidate pays to have Trump’s blessing. By and large, it is the only price one has to pay. 

This widespread willingness among many politicians to scuttle their oath of office to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States constitutes an authoritarian movement within the Republican Party. Several Republicans have “retired” rather than accept their Party’s unwritten demand that they embrace the stolen-election calumny. They understand as other Republicans understood a half-century ago during the Watergate scandal, that sometimes party loyalty demands too much.

There are 147 Republicans in Congress who voted to overturn the 2020 election results in the absence of any meaningful evidence of election fraud. This was a historic transgression against an oath that each of them took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Instead, they voted to support and defend the head of their Party, who lost the 2020 popular vote by over seven million votes and the Electoral College vote 306 to 232.

The doubt Benjamin Franklin expressed that we would keep our constitutional democracy may well be playing out in this, the 233rd year of our constitutionally ratified republic. For example, last month, Republican primary voters in Arizona embraced election deniers to run for Governor, Attorney General, and, ominously, Secretary of State, the elected office that oversees elections.

An election denier has also won the Republican nomination for Governor in Pennsylvania and Michigan and Senate in Ohio. And, of course, Liz Cheney of Wyoming was roundly defeated by election-denier Harriet Hageman. 

All in all, election-denying nominees for governor in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin and an assortment of election deniers running for Secretaries of State in Arizona, Michigan, and Nevada represent a potential threat to our constitutional democracy because they are running in crucial battleground states.

The list of deniers or doubters includes 185 current Republican governors, secretaries of state, attorneys general or US Senate and House members, many of whom are seeking re-election this year, and dozens of nominees for other offices. They and 258 other Republican candidates have embraced the 2020 election-was-stolen lie or have otherwise questioned the election’s legitimacy.

Some Republicans who have stood up to Trump have won primaries, such as Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger in Georgia. Nonetheless, the mid-term elections will largely be fought by those who have embraced Trump’s big lie and those who have refused to bow down at his altar.

This year’s election contests may well determine whether Benjamin Franklin’s great fear was well founded, that we, sooner or later, would lose our constitutional democracy, or whether the gift the founders gave us 233 years ago would endure. Game On!

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20 responses to ““A Republic, If You Can Keep It.” Game On!”

  1. Mike says:


    I may be the only one in your audience that is thinking this, but seriously, you need to move on or retitle your column: Endless thoughts on January 6.

    This week Putin threatened to use his nuclear arsenal, the stock market plunges and had its worst week in a long time, the Fed hiked rates, inflation is raging, Venezuela is emptying their jails, and our cognitively impaired President can’t find his way off a stage. Yet we get another diatribe against Trump from Hal.

    Do you even bother reading papers, looking at aggregator websites or watching CNN or Fox or something that would clue you in to the reality that the world has moved on from January 6?

    And news flash time Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger will be gone come January. It can’t happen soon enough.

    • kenny vaden says:

      We should not stop keeping this in the public eye until legal claims have been adjudicated and decisions made as to guilt for having top secret nuclear documents in his possession as a “former” president, not a current president, and the fact that they were taken when he left. I agree with your column and encourage you to continue to inform your readers of facts.

      • Mike says:


        Where was the outrage when James Comey acknowledged that Hillary Clinton had 133 highly classified documents on an unsecure computer/server (but then said a prosecutor would unlikely bring a case). She deleted over 33, 000 e-mails, then destroyed her computer and smashed her phone and the sim card. Or how about the stuff that is on Hunter’s computer that could provide incriminating evidence against a sitting President. Nothing from the Jan 6th Commission. Nothing from the FBI. Once again, nary a peep from Hal or most of his audience.

        But let’s adjudicate and bring a case against Trump because….. it’s Trump.

        Reading Hal’s comments helps me understand why the issue of “confirmation bias” may be the most significant issue affecting America.

        Lest you think I am a rabid Trump supporter, (or in Biden’s words, a “fascist”) I am one of those who hopes he rides off in to the sunset, and leaves the political arena. In my opinion, he is singularly responsible for the R’s losing the two Georgia Senate seats, and his support for various weak Senate candidates will likely allow the D’ to retain the Senate. Which means more awful legislation from a D controlled Senate. Yet many of Trump supporters overlook all of this because of confirmation bias

        For those rabid Dems, outside of the infrastructure bill, handling of the Ukrainian conflict and helping us avert a rail strike, there is not much to praise Biden about. His economic, energy, border and most of his foreign policy have been awful – despite his statements. For example when inflation drops from 9% to 8%, in Joe’s fantasy land he tells us inflation is over. Two consecutive quarters of declining GDP usually signal a recession. But once again, in Joe’s fantasy land, Joe declares there is no recession. Then Joe gives a speech telling us that everything is rosy on front – the same day the market is plunging. Perhaps his biggest accomplishment is that he doesn’t embarrass himself with outrageous tweets. Yet many of Biden’s supporters overlook all of this because of….confirmation bias.

        Hal, take a look at the responses here. You could be writing about all of this. Yet, we continue to hear about Jan 6 and other articles pointing out the blatantly obvious point: Trump is a flawed individual. How about trying something new. Talk about the areas where economically speaking we were much better off under Trump than we are under Biden.

        Have a nice day

  2. Ruth says:

    Accurate and on point. Stay the course and keep on encouraging the rest of us to do likewise. There is NO wisdom in returning the former occupant to the White House; he and his minions have done deep harm to our republic during and after his tenure there.

    • Mike says:


      You note that Trump and his minions “have done deep harm to our republic during and after his tenure there.”

      Perhaps in your gilded world, things like rampant inflation, soaring interest rates, the rising costs to heat and power your home or sky high gas prices are “minor inconveniences.”

      Or maybe you are not too concerned about the corruption and politicization of the FBI, the spiraling crime in the wake of the “defund the police” initiatives promulgated by BLM, Antifa and “progressive” liberals who view the middle class as “deplorables.” And perhaps the open borders and billions being spent on illegal aliens and the deaths due to fentanyl are an afterthought. They may not affect you or your friends so you can focus on Jan 6th and let the peasants (a.k.a. those fascists blue collar Trump minions) “eat cake.”

      But for those blue collar workers and minions in the middle class that are struggling to survive, and for those of us who don’t feel safe walking the streets of Chicago and other major metropolitan areas, and for those of us who have had family friends lose children to the fentanyl on our streets, we know who has caused the most harm in just the past 20 months.

      Which is why I wish Trump would disappear. Perhaps then you and others would take a step back, open your eyes and witness the “deep harm” caused to our Republic by the Potemkin President (a.k.a. Biden) and his minions. Trump pales in comparison. So, Hal, how about another Jan 6 column excoriating Trump.

  3. sheila says:

    Agree wholeheartedly with Kenny Vaden.

  4. Stuart Goldfine says:

    No, Mike, I agree with you. Hal and will never be happy unless they have a third impeachment of Trump. Biden is just an incompetent puppet who just babbles nonsense, and Kamala Harris just grins with stupidity. Biden gets more respect when he returns to the cellar.

    • Stephen E. Prover says:

      With all due respect… We’ve heard your song before…. like every week… Hal may have some redundant topics but his material is totally original and brilliantly researched each and every week…. Please reveal your research into your weekly ridiculous ad hominem attack on the President’s cognition… He is not suffering from dementia… I am beginning to experience some similar concern about you

  5. Sherry says:

    WE won’t have to worry about Putin, the Fed , the stock market or any of those things that Mike mentioned if we don’t have a Democracy and the Rule of Law. Don’t stop bringing this to the people and maybe the dangers we face will sink in to those who don’t think concerns for our Democracy are important.

  6. Bob Parker says:

    There you have it, Mike. Only 3 of 5 respondents see value in representative democracy, our Constitution and understanding domestic and foreign policies and events.

  7. Paula Pierce says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Kenny Vader as well.

    • Stuart Goldfine says:

      To Sheila: You must be joking of course.

      Biden failures
      1. Border crisis with illegal aliens
      2. Inflation crisis
      3. Price of gasoline, preventing citizens to get to any jobs
      4. USA is no longer energy independent under Biden, so he starts to buy oil from Russia
      5. Afghanistan pullout, leaving Dead Americans and billions of equipment for the Taliban
      6. High crime rate in major Democratic cities
      7. Supply chain disrupted. We can’t even produce baby milk

      Anyone who thinks these were positive results for Biden must be drinking Kool-Aid.

  8. Mike says:

    Folks, surely you can not offer any prove that the Jan 6 Commission was truly interested in getting the facts or that it was impartial. Begin with the fact that Nancy Pelosi barred the Republicans from seating their designated representatives and move on to the fact that there was no chance to cross examine or question witnesses who basically lied. It is/was a witch hunt that had one purpose: Destroy Trump. Ironically, I hope they succeed in nullifying Trumps future ambitions as he is proving his toxicity on the midterms and his self-obsession is hurting the Republican party.

    What Kenny, Sheila, Paula and Sherry overlook is the devastating impact of the Biden Administration policies. These policies are much more consequential than the Jan 6 events. I also find it interesting that while you continually condemn Jan 6, none of you have bothered to comment on Antifa’s attacks on Federal buildings, protestors violating the law by trying to intimidate Supreme Court Justices as they protest outside their houses, or the failure of the Democrats to defend our borders.
    Pretty consequential stuff, yet none of this warrants a column by Hal or comments from his audience?

    And don’t even get me started on the idiocy and damage caused by Biden’s clean energy initiatives While we are shutting down pipelines and weakening our electrical grid, China and India are increasing their consumption of coal and the use of fossil fueled powered plants. And his failures on foreign policy has clearly put Taiwan at risk.

    You also have Biden labeling opponents as fascists and actually doing things that put our democracy at risk. Yet you say nothing except that perhaps democracy is at risk because people marched on January 6. For the record, the only police offer who died was an individual that had medical issues. On the other hand, Ashley Babbitt, an unarmed citizen was shot and killed by a Capital Police Officer. The Fed has refused to fully investigate this or things like the role of Ray Epps.

    But none of this stuff is more important than January 6. Folks, you need to open your eyes, exit the bubble and get a life.

    L Shana Tova

  9. kip carter says:

    Hal, you are absolutely spot on. Keep telling the truth!

  10. sheila says:

    Stuart Goldfine: The truth is that no president is perfect – but Biden has had his share of big wins, and to tear him down categorically, to say that he is an incompetent puppet is just dead wrong. You might even say that what he has accomplished, given the no-compromise attitude of most of the Republicans in Congress, is downright miraculous.
    And right now, he is the only potential candidate for 2024 that believes strongly in our Constitution and in our country as a democratic republic.

    As Hal has written in this essay, our country is teetering on a precipice — and to save it, we, as a nation, need to make the right choices in November. We need to reject candidates who are election deniers, those who are proponents of batshit conspiracy theories and authoritarian governments, or we could lose it all.

    Thank you, Hal, for continuing to keep the imminent danger to our country front and center.

    • Mike says:


      Does the President have a Constitutional duty to protect our borders? If so, how does one rationalize Biden spending money to hire 87,000 IRS Agents, but not a dime on increasing our Border Security forces. Constitutionally, does he have the authority to waive debt on student on loans. Last time I checked, I thought the Congress had the power of the purse. So please spare us the lecture on Biden protecting the Constitution.

      I find it interesting that for four years, we heard several Dems refer to Trump as the “illegitimate” President. with nary a peep from Hal, the press or the moderate Dems. Today, anyone who has questions about the integrity of the 2020 election is, according to Biden, “anti-fascist” and according to the you and the Dems (along with the pathetic Liz Cheney and the disgraceful Adam Kinzinger) “putting Democracy at risk.” And now, with today’s news that the Jan 6th Commission is recommending prosecution of Trump (WHAT A SHOCK!), hopefully, this Kangaroo Court spectacle will go away.

      For me and millions of others, the biggest threat to our democracy is the “shadow” government that would have you actually believe that Joe Biden is in charge of our government. NEWS FLASH – HE’S NOT!

      When you see a recent LA Times (not known to be a Conservative newspaper) article about the FBI lying to a judge to get warrants to drill open 1800 safety deposit boxes and seizing $86 Million in assets from people “suspected” of being criminals, or lying to obtain the FISA warrants based on the Russian Dossier that was known to be falsified, or the recent raids on homes of people whose crime was supporting Trump, it makes you wonder how that once proud Agency got so corrupted.
      Then look at the disparity in treatment between members of Antifa who rioted and attacked Federal Building, or the Church in DC across from the White House or taking an axe to a Congressman’s office door and how the January 6 folks are being treated. We are clearly not seeing equal treatment under the law. Apparently that is not important to you or Hal.

      I will give the Dems for passing the infrastructure bill. It was a win but as someone intimately familiar with this issue, the same Dems who voted for it would not allow it to pass under Trump. They didn’t want to see him get a win.

      Moving on, Biden’s Build Back Better legislation was primarily a bailout to fiscally broke Democratic run states like Illinois. And at 1.8 Trillion it helped (along with Trump’s 2 Billion Covid stimulus) to fuel the highest inflation in 40 plus years. And his attack (backed by the Dems) attack on fossil based fuel has given us record gas prices.

      And Biden’s latest piece of legislation with the “clean energy” tab of $700 – 800 Billion is a joke. While we will be spending hundreds of billion of dollars on “clean” energy, China and India continue to increase their reliance on a coal based power grid. It’s as if we believe that it is OK for other countries to damage the ozone as long as we spend trillions to keep the ozone above the United States in good shapes.

      Years ago, before he passed away, I heard Carl Sagan give a great talk about the ozone and climate. His point was that we (the world) are either “all in” – a.k.a. all nations working together, or we are all screwed if nations act independently. Clearly, as India and China prioritize trying to generate sufficient electricity, nations are ignoring the standards proscribed in the Paris Accords and acting independently.

      And here in the United States, as we see states like California telling their residents to not recharge their cars between 4pm and 9pm and raise their temperatures to 78 reduce power from air conditioning, we will also see massive increases to heat our homes this Winter. Apparently the progressive wing of the Dem party and the “Green” zealots have not woken up to the reality that we need fossil based fuels to power our grid for at least the next 15 to 20 years.

      Add it all up and the average middle class family is spending more than $6,000 than they were in January, 2021 to support their basic need. And yet Hal and you (Sheila) continue to obsess about an event that practically speaking has zero impact on our lives today. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Nation (except for the Dems and Hal) have moved on from January 6. Perhaps you should do the same.

  11. BLB says:

    Couldn’t have said it better….in all of your multiple posts. Mike, your last line in your last post is perfect…..”the Nation (except for the Dems and Hal) have moved on from January 6. Perhaps you should do the same.”. Totally agree with this statement. To quote Ronald Reagan….”There you go again….” and it’s getting boring.
    And, Hal, if you were to look at the current news, you would definitely have more relevant topics to discuss. January 6 does not make the charts of what the American people are concerned about in the upcoming mid-term elections!! Stuart Goldfine outlined them accurately…..Inflation, crime, education, recession and Border, Border, Border!!!
    Your columns are getting so repetitive that your talents are being wasted. The January 6th committee is wasting our time and missing the mark….and so are you!

  12. Sheldon Weisberg says:

    hooray for Kenny Vaden

  13. Lowell Stewart says:

    My paraphrase for some of the other commenters here would be, “Squirrel!!”

    It can be very uncomfortable for people to take a step back from our immersion in the endless stream of current events, and try to get a handle on where we are from a little more of a historical angle. This is exactly what I feel like Mr. Gershowitz is trying to do with this piece. Thank you, Hal, for your interesting and impassioned perspective.

    I am no advocate of Biden. Say what you want about the man and his policies, but he won the election. He’s the president. Whoever wins in 2024 will be the next one. Great. I hope it’s someone able to inspire, persuade, and LEAD better than either Biden or Trump.

    But it seems to me, the whole “can we just move on from Jan 6, and get back to current events?” thing is missing the point. To “move on” from the past, without somehow acknowledging what happened or learning anything from it, seems like saying “yeah, no big deal, such things are bound to happen.” Whereas the point of this piece seems to be, “no, here’s WHY it’s important, here’s what we can learn from it.”

    It doesn’t need to be about Trump OR Biden. It’s about our FORM of government (constitutional republic), not the specific personalities in charge at any time. Does the integrity of an election matter, or doesn’t it? Who benefits from erosion of public trust in the electoral process?

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