An Evening With Friends
Date: Monday, November 13 2006
An Evening With Friends
By Gary Jacobucci
I celebrated the conclusion of another election cycle with some old friends last night.
Westbrook Pegler got the party off to a boisterous start by quoting something he had written in the New York Journal in 1951: "Did I say 'republic?' By God, yes, I said 'republic!' Long live the glorious republic of the United States of America. Damn democracy. It is a fraudulent term used often by ignorant persons, but no less often by intellectual fakers, to describe an infamous mixture of socialism, miscegenation, graft, confiscation of property and denial of personal rights to individuals whose virtuous principles make them offensive."
Ben Franklin spoke next, holding up a copy of the Constitution, quoting a statement he had made over two hundred years ago: "This is likely to be administered for a course of years and then end in despotism... when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other."
Thomas Jefferson was in attendance of course and followed Franklin, quoting: "Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction."
Professor Alexander Fraser Tytler quoted from something he had written on the decline and fall of the Athenian Republic while our thirteen original states were still colonies of Great Britain: "A Democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of Government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse out of the public treasury. >From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that Democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy, always to be followed by a Dictatorship."
Cicero spoke next, lamenting the fall of his beloved Roman republic: "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and he carries his banners openly. But the traitor moves among those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not traitor, he speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their garments, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared."
Thomas Jefferson spoke again, reminding us of the whole point of a republican form of governance: "In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on November 14, 2006]