Democracy in Practice
A diverse people can self-govern

“A Republic if you can keep it.” Confronting the vulnerability of our (almost) 250-year-long experiment OR Is Democracy Dying?

At the end of the Constitutional Convention, a woman approached Dr. Benjamin Franklin and asked what type of government they had formed. His answer: “A Republic if you can keep it.” Bill Kristol, a conservative intellectual, recently repeated the sentiment that our system of governance is a fragile thing when he wrote “self-government is an experiment. It could still fail.” The framers constructed a government built on the notion that – not only could we muddle through our differences – we would actually protect our freedoms by the very act of disagreeing. It was probably our founders’ biggest idea – and assuredly their boldest and the one that still challenges our union today – that a diverse people could self-govern. Our nation became the first to embrace the “constant clashing of opinion” inherent to a people of varied interests. Alexander Hamilton wrote that conflicting opinion “promotes deliberation and circumspection, and serves to check excesses in the majority.”

Possible guests/panelists: Historians, political scientists and others who study these ideas. Possibly journalists.