“The truth will make you free.”
~ John 8:32
Pajaronian Column June 24, 2022
By John Song
On July 4, 1776, thirteen British colonies emerged as a newly independent nation, the United States of America. And the American republic was born. The Constitution was written and signed in 1787. It was a charter of government that came to be ratified by the states, and it continues to be the supreme law of the land. And thus the American experiment in democracy was born.
We are living in a precarious time. So far, the American public has heard three of five bipartisan January 6 hearings. We are learning how the former president and his allies came precariously close to dismantling the 235 years of American experiment in democracy. If not for a few key principled Republicans who refuse to do the bidding of the former president to overturn the result of the fair election, I don’t know where we will be as a nation.
Trump asked for one teensy favor: Help destroy American democracy and all we stand for. He pressured Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” him enough votes to overturn the presidential election and vaguely threatened him with “a criminal offense” during an hourlong telephone call. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.” Then in his desperation made multiple heated calls to pressure the Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to do the performative act of ratifying the results of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory at the joint session of Congress on January 6th.
The other day during The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the host was interviewing two former Washington Post journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, for the 50th anniversary of groundbreaking 1974 non-fiction book, All the President’s Men. These two journalists investigated the June 1972 break-in at the Watergate Office Building which brought to light the political scandal of President Richard Nixon which resulted in his resignation. The host Stephen Colbert asked them what is the difference between the 1973 Watergate Senate hearing and today’s Jan. 6 nonpartisan House hearing. Bob Woodward answered, “Back then truth mattered and there were a lot more principled Republican Senators than it is today.” He explained that after all the mounting evidence in the Watergate scandal, it all came down to Barry Goldwater, a five-term very conservative Republican Senator from Arizona. He made a visit to the Oval Office to have a sobering conversation with President Nixon. Nixon asked Goldwater how much support he has from the Republican senators to acquit him from charges and indictments brought against him from the hearing. Barry Goldwater told him, “You might have four or possibly five. But you don’t have mine.” Next day President Nixon made a public announcement of his resignation from the Presidency.
Finally, nearing the end of their interview, the host Stephen Colbert asked a point-blank question to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, “What is the chance of the American experiment in democracy surviving?” Their answer is worth paying attention to. “Our young democracy has a chance of surviving only if the public is willing to look at the truth and act accordingly.” George Orwell, the author of the classic 1984, wrote, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”
As we head into celebrating our Independence Day, let us not take for granted the 235 years of American experiment in democracy. What distinguishes America, “the land of the free,” from totalitarian states like China and Russia is the Constitutional rights of the freedom of speech, press, and assembly. Without them, we are not free. But it only works if we, the people, are willing to see the truth.
I am inspired by the people of Ukraine who are putting their lives on the line to defend their independent republic and the democratic government. Their war is not that different from our American Revolution for Independence from George III, the King of Great Britain. Benjamin Franklin was walking out of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when someone shouted out, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” To which Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.” We can’t fall asleep. We all need to stay awake. Truth matter. Principle matter. God bless America.
“Price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”
~ Thomas Jefferson