You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” These words often credited to Abraham Lincoln have traditionally held true. But it seems we are steadily becoming a nation of citizens who can be fooled all too much of the time.
Is it because we are gullible, or simply detached? Maybe it is both. What has happened to the America that could not be fooled all the time?
Perhaps we need to be reminded that for a republic to work, citizens must be engaged in the issues of the day. Benjamin Franklin recognized this when he issued these warning words when asked at the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 about whether we had a Republic or a Monarchy. “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his famous response.
Have we forgotten that we are a republic, not a democracy? Do we even know what a republic is? Do we realize that a republic allows the minority a voice? A democracy allows for mob rule. The republic designed by our founding fathers safeguards the freedoms we were born with for everyone, whether they belong to the majority or the minority. We have a representative government which means we elect representatives to represent us in congress. As of late it seems too many of our representatives, on both sides of the aisle feel we must follow their lead.
Have we as a nation become too reliant on our government? Have we concluded it is easier to relinquish responsibility to others and then escape blame for whatever happens? The danger in that is we jeopardize our liberty.
If our government is supposed to be beholding to the American people, not the other way around, than why aren’t more Americans taking the time to get informed on the issues that affect them? Are we too absorbed in posting our favorite meal on Facebook, or watching the funniest cat video on YouTube? Sure, we want to escape the horrors happening around the world, but at what cost?
Too many Americans give up local control too easily. We all want a stellar education for our children, but we expect the government to provide it. If we took the time to better inform ourselves, we would not be so easily fooled.
How can a one- size fits all education system work for the entire country? America has always worked best because we have maintained control at the local level. If teachers, parents, and school administrators must adhere to standards they had no role in defining and cannot redefine the standards if they are not working, where will that leave us?
The time is now for Americans to engage more aggressively in truth seeking and demand that our government “of the people, by the people, for the people” represent our wishes, not the other way around. We the People must keep our republic by once again becoming the Americans Abraham Lincoln knew. The Americans that did not allow themselves to be fooled all the time.
Diana Erbio is a freelance writer and author of “Coming to America: A Girl Struggles to Find her Way in a New World”. Read more in her series Statues: The People They Salute, by going to the Table of Contents for links to her posts about statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection and others.