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About 235 years ago a deal was struck in Philadelphia. It was a compromise, an attempt to balance the sometimes conflicting interests of a sprawling new world.
Upon the conclusion of negotiations, Benjamin Franklin said of America’s not-yet-ratified Constitution:
“I confess that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them.” Yet Franklin was astonished that the Constitution, despite its various concessions and compromises, was a document “approaching so near to perfection” as it did.
Franklin understood that, despite differences of opinion even on significant matters, people could share a common goal sufficiently worthy to compel them to make sacrifices in pursuit of their common interests.
We are in a kind of revolution today. The founding principles of free speech, individual liberty, limited government, due process, and rule of law are all under assault from a grasping and relentless progressive left that would abandon our nation’s very framework if it advanced their radical agenda. All that holds them in check is the fear that they will push too fast and too far, overplay their hand, and awaken resistance.
Conservatives — those of us who cherish the nation born in Philadelphia and bequeathed to us through the sweat and blood and striving of our ancestors — should take a lesson from the hard-headed realists of the Constitutional Convention. We have to unite around our common interests, around that free speech, individual liberty, limited government, due process, and rule of law, and work with people who may not agree with us in every particular, but who do agree that those things are essential and non-negotiable.
Other things, we can fix.
We speak of “infrastructure bills,” but that’s just concrete and cable and so much cronyism. America’s infrastructure is an idea, an idea of the relationship between the citizen and the state. That, more than any bridge or railway or pipeline or digital superhighway, must be maintained and preserved.
Everyone who shares that view should join together, acknowledging but agreeing to overlook other disagreements so long as the preservation of that system of government of, for, and by the people is preserved. The rest we can debate in the public square, and reach whatever agreements are possible in a large and diverse population.
It’s time to take this seriously, and to set aside differences that don’t rise to the level of safeguarding the work done more than two centuries ago by the men who shaped the greatest nation on Earth.Published in