Sometimes known as the “first American,” founding father Benjamin Franklin would have been very pleased with Tuesday’s decisions of freedom-loving citizens from sea to shining sea.
As recorded by a fellow delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Franklin was approached by a woman waiting with others outside Independence Hall for word of what had been accomplished inside:
“Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”
Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
In less than two and a half years, the dean of American democracy was dead at 84. But the world’s greatest experiment in self-government that he helped to launch lives on 227 years later.
The republic has been kept.
Today’s Americans added a historic explanation mark to our resolve honoring the document that defines our system of limited government. It’s a system that has produced the most successful society on the planet.
The profound rejection of the notion that our country was in need of “fundamental transformation,” as promised by Barack Obama upon his election to the presidency, is worth noting.
The opportunity to reflect upon the decisions cast in ballot boxes across the country is just too compelling to pass up.
A mere 30 days before the midterm elections, Obama defined what was at stake. After reminding us that he was not on the ballot this fall, he emphasized, “But, make no mistake, [my] policies are on the ballot, every single one of them.”
Any analysis of the historic sweep through Congress, putting both houses of the institution under the control of conservatives, that concludes anything other than a total rejection of Obama’s agenda is just misjudged, misguided, misinformed and mistaken.
The president himself made crystal clear what the outcome of the election would mean.
Republican candidates across the country promised voters if they sent them to Washington, they would work to stop the initiatives of the White House occupants bent on that transformation promised six years ago.
At the top of the list of things the victors promised was a kind of transformation of their own.
First up would be Obamacare, if not a total repeal and rewrite, then at least modifications of the most troublesome provisions that confound those needing insurance and those providing medical care and employers struggling with how to manage the mandates.
Then, or at the same time, initiatives to deal with the interference of the government with the full recovery of our economy, including tax reforms, removal of regulatory barriers and fresh initiatives to create jobs.
A really good place to make the greatest positive economic impact almost immediately would be the full authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline, a measure that enjoys such support in Congress that there may even be enough votes to override a veto.
Immigration reform begins with securing our borders and guarding our national security. Without a plan that accomplishes that objective first, no attempt at amnesty as the president currently is considering via his constitutionally questionable executive powers should be funded.
And, speaking of unlawful use of presidential decrees, Congress must use its powers, which are equal to the executive’s, to thwart him.
If Republicans will use their hard-fought control and remain steadfast to the fundamental tenets of representative democracy, predictions of Hillary Clinton resuming a socialist agenda two years from now will not come to pass.
These staunchly pro-republic stands would keep Dr. Franklin smiling.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. firstname.lastname@example.org