‘A republic, if you can keep it’: Patriotic service, sacrifice and leadership

by Summer Lane

Op-ed by Summer Lane | Photo: Courtesy of the Trump Campaign

Fresh on the heels of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday always hit hard, driving millions of dollars in sales and sparking debate on whether the spirit of gratitude is washed away in the deluge of American consumerism.

With prices soaring and the cost of living out of sight, people today are struggling more than ever to make ends meet. The balance of global peace has been odiously tipped askew, setting off a daisy chain of foreign conflicts in places like Ukraine and the Middle East.

It is in this abysmal position that Americans find themselves as they stare a tinsel-tinged holiday season in the face, wondering what the future of the United States looks like as a heated presidential election looms less than a year away.

Thomas Jefferson stated that it was God who gave men liberty and that he doubted whether those liberties could be secured or maintained when society had “removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift” of Almighty God.

Indeed, freedom is not free, and a free people must not only be moral, as George Washington warned but willing to work to preserve and protect their republic.

 In 1787, at the close of the Constitutional Convention, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin supposedly answered a question about the formation of the young United States government. A woman named Eliza Powell reportedly asked, “Well, doctor, what have we got: a republic or a monarchy?”

Franklin replied, “A republic – if you can keep it.”

While there is some debate on whether that quote is historical or merely the stuff of legend, it illustrates an important point: the sanctity and uniqueness of American liberty have not been won without immeasurable sacrifice, and it will not be maintained in the future without cost.

Serving your country

The American soldier is the ultimate servant, for it is in their honorable defense of the United States that the country remains safe, secure, and free. All too often, American troops have laid down their lives for liberty – a supremely unique sacrifice that brave patriots in the U.S. have been willing to make since the War for Independence.

Servanthood and sacrifice, however, can also come in other forms. It can be the simple act of helping your neighbor, bringing a meal to a friend, or taking care of an elderly relative who has no one else to turn to.

For the American, service to the country has another aspect: civic involvement. The Founders wisely recognized that the republic would be driven forward only by the will of the people. And, depending on the willingness of the people to serve, the republic would live or die.

“The influence over government must be shared among all the people,” Thomas Jefferson argued. “If every individual which composes their mass participates of the ultimate authority, the government will be safe.”

Indeed, it is in the carefully structured balance of power in U.S. government that the American people make their voices heard. Election cycles come and go, left eclipses right, and politics consistently stir chaos. Amidst it all, the republican form of government crafted by the Founding Fathers has allowed any American, anywhere, the capacity to selflessly serve their country in some way.

“If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin,” Samuel Adams declared in 1780.

It is servanthood and selflessness that drive the spirit of American patriotism. Today, many inspirational figures and thought leaders are paving the way forward for citizens who are concerned about the devolution of liberty and justice – including President Donald J. Trump.

Serving often means sacrificing

Before running for the presidency, Donald Trump was a well-known New York real estate developer and billionaire with a big personality, a successful brand, and a hit television show, “The Apprentice.”

Arguably, the name “Trump” was somewhat synonymous with the American dream, illustrating what a life of luxury and success could look like if someone was willing to capitalize on their talent and put in the long-term work to achieve something incredible.

President Trump did not need to run for president. Since announcing his candidacy in 2015, he has been relentlessly attacked in the media, in Washington, D.C., and now, in multiple court systems across the United States.

And yet, President Trump has strongly provided a model to the American people of what sacrifice looks like in the legislative and political arena. His presidency and ongoing bid to reclaim the White House have shown the nation unflinching grit and willpower in the face of what often seems like a stacked deck.

Earlier this year, he declared, They know that we can defeat them. They know that we WILL defeat them. But they’re not coming after me, they’re coming after you. I’m just standing in their way, and I always will stand in their way.”

Civic involvement is the very cornerstone of the American way of life. “I see no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1820, years after American independence had been won.

The heritage of this nation and the hope of tomorrow hinges on whether Americans are willing to work, to serve, and to sacrifice to protect the freedoms that so many have died for. A timeless example of sacrifice and honorable service was set in stone by the Founding Fathers and continues to shine through leaders like Donald Trump and beyond.

The only question that remains is this: what are you willing to sacrifice in the service of your country and the preservation of American liberty?

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