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On Carnival Barkers and Magic Tricks

"A republic, if you can keep it." ~ Benjamin Franklin, September 17, 1787

The book of 1 Samuel tells the history of the transition to a monarchy in Israel. It is a fascinating story, and one I have found myself reflecting on more and more recently. The Scriptures tell us that the transition from the established system of government under judges to the development of a kingship was not divine will, but the will of the people. 1 Samuel 8:7 tells us: “And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.’” And a few chapters later we see in Chapter 15 verse 35 that “...the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.”

There are wide discrepancies in the estimated length of the period of the Judges, with scholars claiming that this period lasted from 180 to 450 years. While this isn’t an American story, the current contest for political power in conjunction with the age of our nation does have some parallels. The first verse of Romans 13 commands: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Yet, in our American story, there is one political party that consistently claims divine authority and blessing and rejects the same for their opposition. When they are in power, God is winning and when they are not, He is losing, and anyone who objects to their ideas or their methods is perpetuating evil.

I have watched this progress over the course of my lifetime to our present moment, where we now have a political party who has a presumptive nominee that has plainly, out loud, in public, with his own words, on video stated that he will be a dictator, and that party continues to claim God’s blessings as they knowingly implement policies that cause destruction and harm to our fellow Americans. They have become so brazen that they have published their plan for our nation’s future in a 887 page book titled Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise, commonly referred to as Project 2025. In many ways, the transition is already underway.

As a public school teacher of 16 years and a mother of three children, I’ve learned my number one rule the hard way more than once: Behavior is communication. There has been lots of communication this week, and it's easy to see when we turn our attention to the Supreme Court.

This week we’ve watched the Supreme Court overturn a bribery conviction and gut our regulatory agencies. These decisions are in keeping with this corrupt court’s principles which minimize the general welfare in favor of the enrichment of the few. These decisions also whittle away another bit of the Constitutional rights of the people, in this specific case, the 1st Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The right to petition the government refers to “any non-violent and legal means of asking the government to right a wrong or to correct a problem.” In our society, many of these petitions can be filed through departments within our regulatory agencies. For example, each of the 15 executive departments has an Office of Civil Rights that works to ensure that department’s compliance with civil rights laws. The most active and public facing Offices of Civil Rights work in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education. The current process to file a complaint through OCR requires a written complaint be submitted within 180 days of an incident. If both parties are in agreement, an arbitration process can be used to reach a resolution quickly. Alternatively, a full investigation may occur and OCR will either close the case or deliver their findings and recommended remedies. This process allows disputes to be resolved in a timely manner, which can be critical when the education of children or a patient’s healthcare hangs in the balance. Additionally, OCR issues guidance and drafts Dear Colleague letters to help inform institutions of possible legal implications and applications within given scenarios.

So, how might this week’s Supreme Court decisions impact issues addressed through OCR? 

OCR’s objective to enforce civil rights law relies heavily on two concepts of discrimination. The first is disparate treatment, that is overt, intentional discrimination. The second is what is referred to as disparate impact, which is an unintentional discriminatory action. These are usually found when data sets are analyzed and questions arise about the performance of or impact on a particular subgroup in comparison to others. Twenty-six federal funding agencies currently have Title VI regulations that include provisions addressing the disparate impact or discriminatory effects standard.

Project 2025 has some thoughts about that:

While the Mandate for Leadership identifies disparate impact as a primarily racial argument, it has been used to advocate for the advancement of programs for other populations beyond racial groups, including women and the disabled.

Project 2025 also has recommendations regarding how OCR complaints should be addressed in the future:

This will directly impact the ability of the people to petition their government and resolve the conflict within a time frame that will have any significant impact on the outcome of the case. This may also put the act of seeking redress out of reach for many families as each case requires a higher burden of proof to pursue a remedy through the court system. 

And so we see how the actions of the Court continue to establish a pathway to dismantle the rights of the people as outlined in our nation’s founding documents and take more power for themselves. 

“A republic, if you can keep it.”

This response by Benjamin Franklin to Mrs. Eliza Powel of Philadelphia to the question “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” upon the completion of the Constitutional Convention on September 18, 1787 has never been more relevant. 

237 years ago, our Founding Fathers provided a road map for the governance of this country in the form of our current Constitution. The Articles of Confederation had created a weak central government that proved ineffective at meeting the needs of our young nation, focusing heavily on maintaining the independence of the states and establishing only a legislative branch of government. The Constitutional Convention was in large part a response to these weaknesses and an effort to address the concerns that arose from the decentralization of government. 

1a(1): a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president (2): a political unit (such as a nation) having such a form of government

b(1): a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law

See, the thing about a republic is this: it only works if the voters participate. We cannot keep a republic if the citizens who have been given the power of self-governance choose to not to engage. The participation of citizens is required by definition. 

Many consider this established government system to have been ordained by God. 

The only real question now is: Will we keep it?



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