If you were to say to yourself, "I only have time to read one essay about the state of our republic today, so I'm going to make it a good one," then I would say to you, "read Andrew J. Bacevich's essay, One Percent Republic." Excerpt here:
"... in formulating basic military policy and in deciding when and how to employ force, the state no longer requires the consent, direct participation, or ongoing support of citizens. As an immediate consequence, Washington’s penchant for war has appreciably increased, without, however, any corresponding improvement in the ability of political and military leaders to conclude its wars promptly or successfully. A further result, less appreciated but with even larger implications, has been to accelerate the erosion of the traditional concept of democratic citizenship."