And Yet, The Republic Endures
“The Republic endures and this is the symbol of its faith.” These words are from Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, addressed at the laying of the cornerstone of the Supreme Court building.
We are a country of three separate branches of government; and all three branches exist on the social contract that the electorate allows them to exist and votes in favor of their continuance every election. Every day, even, if you think about it. What a concept.
If you voted for the guy who won, if you voted for the guy who lost, if you went into that ballot box and abstained, you voted in favor of our Republic continuing to operate on its democratic premise. We are bombarded with messages, both overt and subconscious, to keep us believing that our divisions are more important than that which unifies us. That our party loyalty represents our core values — and there does exist moral philosophical theory that says just that (looking at you, Jonathon Haidt). But what about our overarching social contract?
We all believe in our social contract that lives within constitutional framework. We all believe in the rule of law that we actively consent to, every two years and the occasional special election. We believe in all levels and all branches of our government, derived from our very own sovereignty. Where does that fit in our moral matrices?
Is not our ongoing participation in our democracy its own representation of our core values? That — no matter how much we detest the contesting platform , no matter how much we yell at each other on Facebook — we believe above all in the process that unites us? Unity is more than shutting up and playing nice — that’s just suppression. Unity, actual unity, is the ability to come to the mat with all our differences and arguments and perspectives and continue to debate and participate and vote again and again. Unity means we all have faith in the process, above any party. Unity means we keep showing up to the face off.
I was complaining about something once (who knows what, I complain a lot), and a friend pointed out to me, he said, “I don’t understand — you spend your life trying to help people but you hate people.” And I laughed and said, “Faith comes in a lot of different forms, okay.”
But really — doesn’t it? No matter how much we drive each other crazy, no matter how much corruption we uncover, no matter how many shortcomings we encounter and how many constitutional reviews the Court has to go through, we keep showing up. Is that not the highest form of faith in democracy?
So, if your guy won or lost, if he is getting inaugurated or leaving in a helicopter, if you voted third party, whatever — I hope you can find a moment of faith, no matter how much you can’t stand it. I hope you find enough faith to keep showing up. Democracy doesn’t only die in darkness, it dies from apathy and disillusion. Our faith is the only reason the republic endures. In the spirit of this unity, keep showing up. Happy Inauguration Day, to all of us 🇺🇸