At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when asked what sort of government we had, Benjamin Franklin replied, “A republic, you can keep it.”
Indeed, a republic is a form of government where policy and state affairs are public concern, in Latin: res publica. One can easily see the relationship between the words.
Franklin and the other Framers are on the other side of the ocean of time, however, and it may feel like the president, the Congress and the rest of Washington are on the other side of a sea of land.
Why then does the impeachment inquiry and future trial matter to students here in Saginaw? The interests that our Constitution
was built to serve – privacy, liberty and especially accountability – are as relevant now as they have ever been.
Accountability is important to everyone, regardless of political leanings, and the idea that our elected officials, that our president, should be able to do whatever they like without consequences is something that should chill anyone’s consciousness.
That is just the thing that chilled the Framer’s own consciousnesses and is the reason why they instituted the various checks and balances that are the cornerstones of our government.
One of these checks and balances is the Congressional power of impeachment over the president and the judiciary, and that is the check that is being used right now as we speak.
What the president does or does not do, what they say to a foreign leader, on the phone or at a conference, is public concern so long as we are in a republic. Should that no longer be considered public concern under the scrutiny of the people’s house, then we do not live in a republic.
That, along with general accountability, is as important to us students as it was for Benjamin Franklin over 200 years ago.
If the public, represented by their duly-elected congresspeople, believes there might have been wrongdoing, then there should be no question to the validity of the existence of an investigation meant to find the truth regarding that suspicion.
The interest is then flatly the same: to seek the truth and act upon whatever that truth may be.
No matter what your policy stances are, nor your opinions about the president currently under investigation, everyone can agree that the processes that keep our government transparent and honest are a good thing.
Its use will not harm the republic that we all take for granted and that we all depend on, but rather it will help us keep that republic.
Editor’s Note: An invitation has been extended to the Saginaw Valley State University Republicans to share a guest view.