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Op-Ed: “A Republic, Madam…”

By • September 13, 2023

On the last day of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was asked whether the government being proposed for the new nation was to be a republic or a monarchy. His now-famous retort was, “A Republic, Madam, if you can keep it.” Franklin knew how fragile this new union would be and how many conflicts and difficulties the separate states would confront on their way to becoming the United States of America.

Anyone who thinks governing is easy hasn’t actually tried it. And anyone who thinks the partisan bickering and divisive rhetoric of our present day are recent developments hasn’t learned our history – or at least the history surrounding the U.S. Constitution.

In the summer of 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention gathered in Philadelphia, with the stated purpose of revising the existing Articles of Confederation. But many delegates, including James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, had a much wider vision; they wanted to create a new government rather than fix the old one. Their vision won the day, and a new form of government was established, with three separate but co-equal branches and a mechanism to preserve the balance among them – the system under which we operate even today.

Of the 13 original states, one (Rhode Island) did not participate at all. The remaining 12 states appointed a total of 74 delegates, but only 55 showed up to begin the deliberations. Some famous Americans were notable by their absence: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were out of the country; John Hancock and Samuel Adams did not participate, possibly because they were occupied with local affairs in their states. Patrick Henry refused to participate because he “smelt a rat in Philadelphia, tending toward the monarchy.”

The discussions were far from amicable. Sharp divisions arose over how best to structure the federal government, how to balance federal powers with those of individual states, and how to assure the proportional representation we have come to take for granted. Making matters worse, the delegates labored in Philadelphia’s sweltering and stifling heat, which caused tempers to flare and made progress excruciatingly slow. One delegate, William Richardson Davie of North Carolina, put it this way: “We move slowly in our business, it is indeed a work of great delicacy and difficulty, impeded at every step by jealousies and jarring interests.” At one point, the windows in the room were nailed shut to keep the proceedings secret, a secrecy that delegates pledged to keep for the rest of their lives.

In the course of the Convention, 13 delegates gave up and went home, convinced that no good outcome was possible. After nearly four months of difficult but determined negotiations, a workable document awaited the signatures of the 42 delegates who remained. Even then, agreement was not unanimous. Three delegates refused to sign the Constitution, and in the end, just 39 names appear on the document. Still, optimism ruled the day: Benjamin Franklin, who said he had often wondered whether the design on the president’s chair depicted a rising or a setting sun, could declare: “Now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun.”

What lessons can we take from this singular moment in our nation’s history? I think there are several. First, in order to make a difference in your world, you need to show up. The Constitution was not the product of the people who refused to attend the Convention. Second, solving big problems often requires a team of dedicated individuals who may differ in their approaches but who share a common vision and a common goal – and who are willing to keep working until they reach it. Third, sometimes the only way to arrive at a solution is to gather all parties, close the door, and nail the windows shut until a workable compromise is hammered out.

“Keeping the Republic” will not happen by accident. It will require vigilance, diligence, and a concerted effort. If you find yourself discouraged by the increasing rancor and discord in our politics today, get involved! At the very least, register to vote – and then faithfully vote in every election and on every ballot measure. Apathy will kill our Republic.

Our Founding Fathers fought through rancor, discord, and dissent, setting aside their own personal interests for the sake of the greater good. And in the end, they handed us a gift of incredible value: the United States Constitution. Under its guidance, we live in the freest and most prosperous nation on earth. I am deeply devoted to making sure that my children and grandchildren will enjoy the same opportunities I have had. I hope you will join me, because every citizen of this country needs to be engaged in this effort.

As we observe Constitution Day on September 17, each of us should take a moment to reflect on this inspired document and on its importance. And we should utter a prayer of gratitude for those who labored in Independence Hall in the summer heat of 1787 to set the course for this nation’s future.

This Op-Ed was submitted by Scott Bedke. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.

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Tags: Benjamin Franklin, Constitution Day, Constitutional Convention, Founding Fathers, Independence Hall, Keeping the Republic, North Carolina, Philadelphia, September 17, William Richardson Davie

23 thoughts on “Op-Ed: “A Republic, Madam…”

  1. What a disgusting piece of trash is Scott Bedke! This man hates the Constitution as evidenced by Bedkecare (the Idaho State Healthcare Exchange which is his baby), and his entire voting record. Scott Bedke is a disgrace to Idaho and to his family.

    1. Agreed. Who can EVER forget how he and his RINO henchmen trashed candidate Priscilla Giddings for Lt. Governor, suggesting she AND her supporters (myself included) are white supremacists, etc. They’re sick individuals.

  2. Curious what part of our Constitution includes trashing faithful and veteran colleagues to advance their own politicial careers? Does he think he’s fooling anyone?

    1. The Constitution protects people’s right to “trash faithful and veteran colleagues to advance their own politicial careers.”

  3. Despot Bedke
    Kangaroo Court Bedke
    Ruin your opponents Bedke

    Run this Despot the Hell out of Idaho’s Political System ASAP

  4. Beckett is a joke, he’s not fooling anyone that’s watched him and his cronies. I’ll leave it at that, I don’t want to get mean.

  5. You know its tragic when someone has to post history about the United States in order to cover up their anti-Constitutional actions. The REAL Scott Bedke:

    1) repeatedly pocket-vetoed Constitutional Carry legislation
    2) is in the pockets of IACI and the medical cartel
    3) supported the governor’s illegal COVID shutdowns by refusing to call the Legislature back into session
    4) persecuted the Lieutenant Governor for exposing CRT in our schools with a fake lawsuit
    …and more.

    Bedke would do well to heed his own statements rather than hypocritically pretend they actually mean anything to him. What a joke.

  6. Someone writing on the constitution should know something about flag etiquette. The stars field on the American flag always are on the left side when flag is displayed either horizontally or vertically.

  7. Acting like you support the Constitution and actually supporting it are two completely different things Mr. Bedke! The very first ammendment of our great Constitution gives us the right to peacefully assemble to make our voices heard and to redress our grievances with our government….you obviously DON’T support that since you locked citizens out of OUR building on multiple occasions and had those that made their peaceful voices heard arrested. “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.” (Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Abigail Adams, February 22, 1787) Its very clear that arrest was NOT what Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he wrote this! Your words, Mr. Bedke, and your actions are opposing entities, and actions are much more demonstrative of one’s heart and mind than are words. YOU, Sir, are who our forefathers warned us of! They said that if the government got too powerful and controlling we would be back to the Lord’s and serfs of England from which they revolted.. We are a peaceful people that want to live in peace with our neighbors and government, but being peaceful does not mean that we cannot or will not defend if needed, thats exactly how this great nation was formed! It is the very heart of every true Patriot!! Remember the words of JFK, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution necessary.” We do NOT want violence, but people like you and the other RINOs and libs are continuously pushing the peaceful to their brink and unless we go back to the rule of law of our Constitution there will come a day where the people will revolt in the same way. (This is not a threat
    It is simply looking at the history of the revolutionaries that started this great nation and watching history repeat itself.) You have a chance to prevent that revolt or cause it, Mr. Bedke. I personally hope you change your ways and choose the former.

  8. Why is Idaho Dispatch even giving this traitor any air time on the website? Between seeing the garbage that Bedke has posted, as well as the many op eds liberal ass-hat Chuck Malloy gets published here, I am visiting this site much less than I normally have for the last several years.

    While I’m all for free speech, I also think these two need to find a new home for their lies and deceit. Perhaps keeping their filth posted on one of the liberal rags would be better for them, since that’s who they cater to.

    1. “cclem” we need you here and on board. You’re a big part of protecting us all.

      Bedke is just a big old turd stinking up Idaho, let’s defeat him.

    2. Seeing both sides of an issue opens eyes and hopefully ears for more discourse. Please stay the course and help spread the Constitutional message to replace their likes for real conservatives in the next election!

  9. Wow, look! The RINO is trying to sound gubernatorial. This article just shows he knows the difference between the Constitution and globalism and his voting record show what side he is really on.

  10. Bedke is what’s wrong with Idaho. He represents a further extension of the Otter regime; just like Little has. Truth is “Miss Laurie”, Butch’s wife, controls Butch and has for years. Butch, Little, Bedke and their ilk are passé. Add little Jimmy Jones to that group. All fake conservatives who crave holding onto power.

  11. It’s hard enough when we at least share the same principles, which is crucial for any system of law. It’s impossible, and we are doomed if we have 2 opposing ideologies, not to mention opposite principles, if you can call the Left’s approach “principles” because they have no principles in the same sense that the Right claims to have.. This is the current state of America, and unless we split from the other ideology, and build upon consistent principles, theirs will win out, and completely abandon ours. And we won’t get them back.

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