“A Republic, If You Can Keep It”: A National Affairs Forum

September 22, 2022 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm America/New York Timezone
Sandra J. Klassen

About this event

On the last day of the Constitutional Convention in September, 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked whether we had a republic or a monarchy. He replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Today, America confronts a crisis in which we must fight to remain a democratic republic or risk degenerating into authoritarianism and fascism. Whereas, once we had a two-party system, today we have Americans who believe in democracy forced to defend our form of government against a well-armed and well-funded minority of Americans who don’t. The current Republican Party, which has become the party of a man without conscience supported by his violent right-wing base, has openly demonstrated that it does not believe in democracy or the core ideals on which this nation was founded. Many Americans are increasingly coming to recognize, as conservative judge J. Michael Luttig testified before the January 6 Committee, that Trump and his allies present a “clear and present danger” to American democracy.

This leaves the Democratic Party and its base – and the Independents and bewildered suburban Republicans who will join us if we speak to them in language with which they resonate, such as the language of freedom – as the guardians of America’s political system. The reality is that if we don’t fight, keep fighting, and bring our potential allies with us, the forces that want to dismantle democracy will continue to win – state by state, bill by bill, court ruling by court ruling. As Thomas Paine wrote in words that could have been written yesterday, “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered…” The Forum speakers will discuss these threats and the fight ahead.


Dr. Drew Westen (Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Emory University, political message consultant, author of The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation), will discuss the psychology and psychopathology of Trump and right-wing authoritarianism; the difficulty progressives have in responding to aggression, interpersonal threat, and bully dynamics; and how we can and must improve our messaging on issues such as abortion, race and “CRT,” and democracy itself if we want to retain the freedoms that once seemed so secure.

John Flannery II (attorney, federal and state prosecutor and special prosecutor), will outline, in view of the revelations and evidence revealed by the January 6 Committee, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and others, the current legal terrain and options for prosecution of former President Trump for his myriad possible illegal actions and those of his allies and supporters who endeavored to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and the implications for the rule of law and our democracy if those responsible are not prosecuted and held accountable.

David Pepper (attorney, election and voting rights law teacher, former Ohio Democratic Party Chair, author of Laboratories of Autocracy: A Wake-Up Call from Behind the Lines), will address how the front line in the attack on democracy and core rights is in our nation’s statehouses, and how if those who value democracy hope to sustain it, they must bring their battle to those statehouses, now and long-term.