Skip to comments.Are we a republic or a democracy?
Posted on 01/04/2005 9:37:45 PM PST by kattracks
We often hear the claim that our nation is a democracy. That wasn't the vision of the founders. They saw democracy as another form of tyranny. If we've become a democracy, I guarantee you that the founders would be deeply disappointed by our betrayal of their vision. The founders intended, and laid out the ground rules, for our nation to be a republic.
The word democracy appears nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution -- two most fundamental documents of our nation. Instead of a democracy, the Constitution's Article IV, Section 4, guarantees "to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." Moreover, let's ask ourselves: Does our pledge of allegiance to the flag say to "the democracy for which it stands," or does it say to "the republic for which it stands"? Or do we sing "The Battle Hymn of the Democracy" or "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"?
So what's the difference between republican and democratic forms of government? John Adams captured the essence of the difference when he said, "You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe." Nothing in our Constitution suggests that government is a grantor of rights. Instead, government is a protector of rights.
In recognition that it's Congress that poses the greatest threat to our liberties, the framers used negative phrases against Congress throughout the Constitution such as: shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, and shall not be violated, nor be denied. In a republican form of government, there is rule of law. All citizens, including government officials, are accountable to the same laws. Government power is limited and decentralized through a system of checks and balances. Government intervenes in civil society to protect its citizens against force and fraud but does not intervene in the cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange.
Contrast the framers' vision of a republic with that of a democracy. In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.
How about a few quotations demonstrating the disdain our founders held for democracy? James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 10: In a pure democracy, "there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual." At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph said, " ... that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy." John Adams said, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." Chief Justice John Marshall observed, "Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos." In a word or two, the founders knew that a democracy would lead to the same kind of tyranny the colonies suffered under King George III.
The framers gave us a Constitution that is replete with undemocratic mechanisms. One that has come in for recent criticism and calls for its elimination is the Electoral College. In their wisdom, the framers gave us the Electoral College so that in presidential elections large, heavily populated states couldn't democratically run roughshod over small, sparsely populated states.
Here's my question. Do Americans share the republican values laid out by our founders, and is it simply a matter of our being unschooled about the differences between a republic and a democracy? Or is it a matter of preference and we now want the kind of tyranny feared by the founders where Congress can do anything it can muster a majority vote to do? I fear it's the latter.
We're a democratic-republic.
Just like North Korea.
"Don't forget that pure democracy is a form of collectivism -- it readily sacrifices individual rights to majority wishes. Since it involves no constitutional bill of rights, or at least, no working and effective one, the majority-of-the-moment can and does vote away the rights of the minority-of-the-moment, even of a single individual. This has been called 'mob rule,' the 'tyranny of the majority' and many other pejorative names. It is one of the greatest threats to liberty, the reason why America's founding fathers wrote so much so disparagingly of pure democracy." -- Bert Rand
"A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in thier deaths." -- James Madison.
"Isn't it somewhat remarkable that we can go back a a few hundred years and find no shortage of quotations from our founding fathers warning us against the dangers of democracy, yet today teachers and politicians use the word as if it were an offering of gold." -- Neal Boortz
"'Democracy' does not mean freedom." -- Mark Da Cunha
"Democracy is four wolves and a sheep voting on dinner." -- Robert A. Heinlein
"Our founding fathers detested the idea of a democracy and labored long to prevent America becoming one. Once again -- the word 'democracy' does not appear in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, or the constitution of any of the fifty states. Not once. Furthermore, take a look at State of the Union speeches. You wont find the 'D' word uttered once until the Wilson years." -- Neal Boortz, Nov. 7, 2002
"I cant think of anything that would do more toward putting us back on the road to liberty and personal responsibility than for the average American, and for the news media, to come to the understanding that we are not a democracy, nor were we supposed to be." -- Neal Boortz
-- all from http://FreedomKeys.com/collectivism.htm
Check out how many "democracies" consider the accused guilty until proven innocent. Napoleonic Law?
No, we are not like North Korea.
Of course it's a republic...otherwise this forum would be called Free Democracy. :-D
I wonder when/who started the modern (mis-)usage of "democracy"?
Thanks, you beat me to it.
I think it's a good piece and should be re-posted now and then.
It shows how the history of our screwed up social evolution has twisted our country's direction. And wonders how we got to where we are today?
Walter Williams BUMPMARK
North Korea is also known as DPR Korea, DPR being Democratic People's Republic.
Communist goals of 1963:
29) Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
30) Discredit the American founding fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the "common man".
31) Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of "the big picture:" Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
A Republic by design originally....sort of...although some leaned for a Confederation, the Republic leaning won out.
We have drifted towards a democracy and worse....the land of judicial fiat.
Neither were in the minds of the founders.
We are ultimately an oligarchy of multinational corporations and their attorneys if you must know the ugly truth. You must remain drunk each evening, watch sports, purchase lots of consumer goods and petroleum products, and don't rock the boat.
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