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The Relevance of Mrs. Powell’s Question

Good Monday morning everyone!

Well, I think we all know the criticality of this week. But, I would assert that the real importance of this week was articulated some 233 years ago. I am sure there are those of you who will immediately recognize the meaning of the title of this missive. For those of you who do not know the relevance, let’s have a chat.

It was September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia — a city currently being destroyed by the rule of the mob — that a simple question was posed. We now know this day as Constitution Day. It was the day that the longest-running Constitutional Republic was established. July 4th, 1776, was the day America declared it’s independence, two totally different occurrences. It was on that day in 1787 when our rule of law, the Constitution, was created.

As one of our Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, exited Independence Hall, he was approached by a well known Philadelphia socialite, Mrs. Powell. Folklore says that she asked Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what is it that we have, a Republic or a monarchy?” Benjamin Franklin responded, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

To this day, many mistakenly refer to America as a democracy. America is a Constitutional Republic. Yes, we do elect our representatives in this Republic through a democratic process of elections. But, what is a Republic?

There are two basic fundamentals of a Republic: individual liberty and the rule of law. The question posed by Mrs. Powell is critical, and Franklin’s response is vital.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, we all have the opportunity to decide whether we still want to be a Republic. In Texas, some 9.7 million already have, by casting their votes. This is that moment in history which will define America as to whether or not we did make a stand to keep this Republic.

The choices are clear, and quite divergent if you take the time to realize them.

Look, let’s put aside the hatred of a person’s personality, or social media practices, and truly conduct an analysis of policy. Am I to believe that there are actually people — citizens — in the state of Texas who really want to see our oil and gas industry decimated? Let me pose this question: what does that mean for the state of Texas, which has the 10th largest economy in the world? What happens to America’s energy independence? Should we go back and find ourselves dependent upon the OPEC countries, mostly comprised of countries that are not Republics, but led by despots and dictators?

What happens to the rugged, individual, indomitable, entrepreneurial spirit that creates the businesses supporting our oil and gas industry?

Of course, we can articulate many divergent issues of the economy, but what happens to individual liberty if America takes a turn towards progressive socialism? That’s not a hard question to ask as history has shown us exactly what happens. National Socialist Germany, Soviet Union, Communist China, Cuba, and Venezuela are all proof that the respect of individual liberties are subjugated to the collective will.

We would no longer be seen as individuals, just part of a greater demographic in which we will be classified. We hear all the rhetoric about “social justice,” but fail to delve deeper and comprehend that social justice is just the forcible, mandated equality of outcomes . . . and, the equal sharing of misery.

In a Republic, under the rule of law, individuals have equality of opportunity. It is an equality of opportunity that takes a fella like myself, born in 1961, in a Blacks-only hospital, raised in a lower middle-income household . . . but, someone who could grow up to be a Lieutenant Colonel in our Army, command a battalion in combat, be a member of the US House of Representatives, and now serve as the Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. That is what happens in a Constitutional Republic, not under a socialist nightmare, where only some are allowed to rise above.

Mrs. Powell’s question, and Franklin’s answer, will be what we shall be discussing later this week. Will we have kept this Republic, or shall we have lost it?

How interesting that we here in Texas could be double losers. Why do I say that? Well, think about it: there is only one state in these United States of America that has fought by itself for its own independence, established on March 2, 1836, and won it on April 21, 1836 . . . and, that is the state — now — once known as the Republic of Texas.

And, it is here that we, Texas citizens, must make a double stand to uphold the founding principles of values not just of the Constitutional Republic known as America, but those of the Lone Star State which began as its very own Republic. When we gaze upon the names and figures of those men on the Cenotaph who sacrificed their lives for this moment. When we Remember those who stormed the field of San Jacinto. When we remember that aura, swagger, that defines Texas, we must dedicate ourselves to keeping this Republic

Let me share the sage wisdom of a Scottish political philosopher, Alexander Fraser Tytler, that sums up this moment:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.”

–Alexander Fraser Tytler

Ask yourselves: where do you think America, Texas, is in this progression? When we have a political philosophy that promises everything for “free,” it only leads to economic dependence and enslavement, not independence and empowerment. I must stress, free does not equal freedom, but it is very enticing and has been the downfall of so many nations.

This week, we must commit to keeping this Republic. This week we must reaffirm the greatest endeavor of individual liberty the world has ever known and needs. This week, we are not just voting for Donald J. Trump or Joe Biden . . . only the simple-minded embrace that folly.

This week, we are voting to extend the life cycle of the world’s longest-running Constitutional Republic. We are answering the question posed by Mrs. Powell. it is a Republic, Ma’am, and we shall, indeed, keep it.

God bless Texas, God bless America!

LTC Allen B. West (Ret.)
Republican Party of Texas

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