Those words were spoken by Benjamin Franklin after the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, in response to a question about what sort of nation the delegates had fashioned for the citizens of the new United States.
Very sadly, the republic in which we live today would seem like a ghastly apparition to most of our Founding Fathers, who had very different ideas about what they wanted. Angelo Codevilla has written a very cogent analysis of the state of our Republic at the present time, and where we might go from here. Here's a lengthy excerpt. It's heavy reading, but well worth your time.
What goes by the name “constitutional law” has been eclipsing the U.S. Constitution for a long time. But when the 1964 Civil Rights Act substituted a wholly open-ended mandate to oppose “discrimination” for any and all fundamental rights, it became the little law that ate the Constitution. Now, because the Act pretended that the commerce clause trumps the freedom of persons to associate or not with whomever they wish, and is being taken to mean that it trumps the free exercise of religion as well, bakers and photographers are forced to take part in homosexual weddings. A commission in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reported that even a church may be forced to operate its bathrooms according to gender self-identification because it “could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.” California came very close to mandating that Catholic schools admit homosexual and transgender students or close down. The Justice Department is studying how to prosecute on-line transactions such as vacation home rental site Airbnb, Inc., that fall afoul of its evolving anti-discrimination standards.
This arbitrary power, whose rabid guard-dog growls and barks: “Racist! Sexist! Homophobic!” has transformed our lives by removing restraints on government. The American Bar Association’s new professional guidelines expose lawyers to penalties for insufficient political correctness. Performing abortions or at least training to perform them may be imposed as a requirement for licensing doctors, nurses, and hospitals that offer services to the general public.
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In today’s America, a network of executive, judicial, bureaucratic, and social kinship channels bypasses the sovereignty of citizens. Our imperial regime, already in force, works on a simple principle: the president and the cronies who populate these channels may do whatever they like so long as the bureaucracy obeys and one third plus one of the Senate protects him from impeachment. If you are on the right side of that network, you can make up the rules as you go along, ignore or violate any number of laws, obfuscate or commit perjury about what you are doing (in the unlikely case they put you under oath), and be certain of your peers’ support. These cronies’ shared social and intellectual identity stems from the uniform education they have received in the universities. Because disdain for ordinary Americans is this ruling class's chief feature, its members can be equally certain that all will join in celebrating each, and in demonizing their respective opponents.
And, because the ruling class blurs the distinction between public and private business, connection to that class has become the principal way of getting rich in America ... judicial decisions and administrative practice have divided Americans into “protected classes”—possessed of special privileges and immunities—and everybody else. Equality before the law and equality of opportunity are memories. Co-option is the path to power. Ever wonder why the quality of our leaders has been declining with each successive generation?
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Progressivism’s programs have changed over time. But its disdain for how other Americans live and think has remained fundamental. More than any commitment to principles, programs, or way of life, this is its paramount feature ... The pseudo-intellectual argument for why these “deplorables” have no right to their opinions is that giving equal consideration to people and positions that stand in the way of Progress is “false equivalence,” as President Obama has put it.
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Under our ruling class, “truth” has morphed from the reflection of objective reality to whatever has “normative pull”—i.e., to what furthers the ruling class’s agenda, whatever that might be at any given time. That is the meaning of the term “political correctness,” as opposed to factual correctness.
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Never before has such a large percentage of Americans expressed alienation from their leaders, resentment, even fear. Some two-thirds of Americans believe that elected and appointed officials—plus the courts, the justice system, business leaders, educators—are leading the country in the wrong direction: that they are corrupt, do more harm than good, make us poorer, get us into wars and lose them. Because this majority sees no one in the political mainstream who shares their concerns, because it lacks confidence that the system can be fixed, it is eager to empower whoever might flush the system and its denizens with something like an ungentle enema.
There's much more at the link. The bold text in the final paragraph is my emphasis.
Food for thought, and highly recommended reading.