Ben Franklin was always my favorite founding father, at least since I played him in Burning Tree Elementary's Fifth Grade Play (the play was called Let George Do It, but my scene was actually a cut-in from 1776). It may even predate that -- I have to imagine I read Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by his Good Mouse Amos at an even earlier age (an excellent children's book, by the way -- all good children's books contain mice).
Among Dr. Franklin's most famous lines was his reported statement, upon leaving the Constitutional Convention, that we had created "a Republic, if you can keep it."
The constitutional character of America is not something one can take for granted, and it is not something we claim by birthright. We must keep it, each and every day. It is an ongoing responsibility.
But some days are more salient than others. Election days are always among them, and this election day is more meaningful than most. This is the moment where we get to decide what sort of country we want to be. This is the moment where we get to prove that our homilies about law and liberty, equal justice and due process, free speech and free press, are more than just words.
Some of you (like myself) have already voted. If so, thank you. If you are waiting until election day, please make sure to go to the polls. And if you are still unsure of whether it's worth voting, or whether there's time, or whether it matters -- it is, there is, and it does.
America is not perfect, but it is a great Republic -- a haven for millions who have come to these shores seeking a better life, and a model for millions more inspired by our constitutional ideals. I never want America to stop being the sort of place people around the world look up to. I never want America to stop being the sort of place where people believe that they can achieve their dreams. I never want America to stop being the sort of place where people want to immigrate to.
America, is and has been all of these things. They define and demarcate our Republic.
Tomorrow, we will see if a majority of Americans find that Republic to be worth keeping.