Franklin foresaw what gave us Trump

To the editor:

A Black Lives Matter protester was beaten and called a monkey and a n----- by Donald Trump supporters at a rally for Trump in Birmingham, Alabama. His offense? Chanting "Black lives matter." The presidential hopeful's response? "Maybe he should have been roughed up. It was absolutely disgusting what he was doing."

On Sept. 17, 1787 — the last day of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia — an ailing Benjamin Franklin shared his opinion of the final draft of the document. It was read in front of Convention delegates by Pennsylvania delegate James Wilson.

It read, in part: "I agree to this Constitution with all its faults because I think a general government necessary for us ; and I believe, further, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other."

Today, 228 years later, I think Benjamin Franklin got it right. We can sit back in horror and watch the parade of people being seriously considered as presidential material — from Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann to Donald Trump and Ben Carson — but the truth is that the "people" themselves have charted this course.


Our politicians are elected by people who do seem to increasingly desire a despotic form of government. "Corrupt" Washington politicians are not placed into office by fiat. As Franklin declared, it first requires corrupt citizens to elect them.

Trampling on the civil liberties, and physical body, of the protester — with Trump's blessing — makes this abundantly clear. He is nothing more than a racist thug, and the same can be said for his Birmingham supporters. And he is favored to win the Republican nomination for president of these United States.

Jeffrey Reel, Sheffield