of the people, by the people, and for the people.” The vast array of constitutional amendments prohibiting discrimination in the franchise would make no sense if the states could simply abolish the right to vote across the board. The federal government is obligated to guarantee a “republicanU +201D form of government to the states, and in our time this would surely imply a recognition of the democratic franchise. The idea that the popular vote is a contingent matter, dependent on a choice by state legislatures, is hardly faithful to the legacy of Lincoln at Gettysburg.
Perhaps we should settle for a decision of the Supreme Court that affirms two principles born of the Civil War and rejects the third. But the American people and all peoples should take their democratic sovereignty seriously. The court and citizens of Florida care about whether Floridians should have been allowed to complete their electoral process without being told what their legislature “must have meant.” The election may have been settled, remarkably, without even a thought of taking up arms, but the nation will not forget.
The values of equality, nationhood, and democracy have become embedded in the American psyche. We now share these values with the numerous newly created democracies in the world that find inspiration in the American experience. The duty of Americans now is to make good on the example we have set for the world.