What the Founders Thought About Democracy

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Consider the words of the Founding Fathers themselves, who — one after another — condemned democracy.

• Virginia’s Edmund Randolph participated in the 1787 convention. Demonstrating a clear grasp of democracy’s inherent dangers, he reminded his colleagues during the early weeks of the Constitutional Convention that the purpose for which they had gathered was “to provide a cure for the evils under which the United States labored; that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and trials of democracy….”

• John Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, championed the new Constitution in his state precisely because it would not create a democracy. “Democracy never lasts long,” he noted. “It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself.” He insisted, “There was never a democracy that ‘did not commit suicide.’”

• New York’s Alexander Hamilton, in a June 21, 1788 speech urging ratification of the Constitution in his state, thundered: “It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.” Earlier, at the Constitutional Convention, Hamilton stated: “We are a Republican Government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of Democracy.”

• James Madison, who is rightly known as the “Father of the Constitution,” wrote in The Federalist, No. 10: “… democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; 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 are violent in their deaths.” The Federalist Papers, recall, were written during the time of the ratification debate to encourage the citizens of New York to support the new Constitution.

• George Washington, who had presided over the Constitutional Convention and later accepted the honor of being chosen as the first President of the United States under its new Constitution, indicated during his inaugural address on April 30, 1789, that he would dedicate himself to “the preservation … of the republican model of government.”

• Fisher Ames served in the U.S. Congress during the eight years of George Washington’s presidency. A prominent member of the Massachusetts convention that ratified the Constitution for that state, he termed democracy “a government by the passions of the multitude, or, no less correctly, according to the vices and ambitions of their leaders.” On another occasion, he labeled democracy’s majority rule one of “the intermediate stages towards … tyranny.” He later opined: “Democracy, in its best state, is but the politics of Bedlam; while kept chained, its thoughts are frantic, but when it breaks loose, it kills the keeper, fires the building, and perishes.” And in an essay entitled The Mire of Democracy, he wrote that the framers of the Constitution “intended our government should be a republic, which differs more widely from a democracy than a democracy from a despotism.”

In light of the Founders’ view on the subject of republics and democracies, it is not surprising that the Constitution does not contain the word “democracy,” but does mandate: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government.”

20th Century Changes
These principles were once widely understood. In the 19th century, many of the great leaders, both in America and abroad, stood in agreement with the Founding Fathers. John Marshall, chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835 echoed the sentiments of Fisher Ames. “Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos,” he wrote. American poet James Russell Lowell warned that “democracy gives every man the right to be his own oppressor.” Lowell was joined in his disdain for democracy by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who remarked that “democracy becomes a government of bullies tempered by editors.” Across the Atlantic, British statesman Thomas Babington Macauly agreed with the Americans. “I have long been convinced,” he said, “that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty or civilization, or both.” Britons Benjamin Disraeli and Herbert Spencer would certainly agree with their countryman, Lord Acton, who wrote: “The one prevailing evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”

By the 20th century, however, the falsehoods that democracy was the epitome of good government and that the Founding Fathers had established just such a government for the United States became increasingly widespread. This misinformation was fueled by President Woodrow Wilson’s famous 1916 appeal that our nation enter World War I “to make the world safe for democracy” — and by President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1940 exhortation that America “must be the great arsenal of democracy” by rushing to England’s aid during WWII.

One indicator of the radical transformation that took place is the contrast between the War Department’s 1928 “Training Manual No. 2000-25,” which was intended for use in citizenship training, and what followed. The 1928 U.S. government document correctly defined democracy as:

A government of the masses. Authority derived through mass meeting or any other form of “direct expression.” Results in mobocracy. Attitude toward property is communistic — negating property rights. Attitude of the law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether it be based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences. Results in demagogism, license, agitation, discontent, anarchy.

This manual also accurately stated that the framers of the Constitution “made a very marked distinction between a republic and a democracy … and said repeatedly and emphatically that they had formed a republic.”

But by 1932, pressure against its use caused it to be withdrawn. In 1936, Senator Homer Truett Bone (D-WA) took to the floor of the Senate to call for the document’s complete repudiation. By then, even finding a copy of the manual had become almost impossible. Decades later, in an article appearing in the October 1973 issue of Military Review, Lieutenant Colonel Paul B. Parham explained that the Army ceased using the manual because of letters of protest “from private citizens.” Interestingly, Parham also noted that the word democracy “appears on one hand to be of key importance to, and holds some peculiar significance for, the Communists.”

By 1952 the U.S. Army was singing the praises of democracy, instead of warning against it, in Field Manual 21-13, entitled The Soldier’s Guide. This new manual incorrectly stated: “Because the United States is a democracy, the majority of the people decide how our Government will be organized and run….” (Emphasis in original.)

Yet important voices continued to warn against the siren song for democracy. In 1931, England’s Duke of Northumberland issued a booklet entitled The History of World Revolution in which he stated: “The adoption of Democracy as a form of Government by all European nations is fatal to good Government, to liberty, to law and order, to respect for authority, and to religion, and must eventually produce a state of chaos from which a new world tyranny will arise.”

In 1939, historians Charles and Mary Beard added their strong voices in favor of historical accuracy in their America in Midpassage: “At no time, at no place, in solemn convention assembled, through no chosen agents, had the American people officially proclaimed the United States to be a democracy. The Constitution did not contain the word or any word lending countenance to it, except possibly the mention of ‘We, the People,’ in the preamble…. When the Constitution was framed no respectable person called himself or herself a democrat.”

During the 1950s, Clarence Manion, the dean of Notre Dame Law School, echoed and amplified what the Beards had so correctly stated. He summarized: “The honest and serious student of American history will recall that our Founding Fathers managed to write both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution without using the term ‘democracy’ even once. No part of any of the existing state Constitutions contains any reference to the word. [The men] who were most influential in the institution and formulation of our government refer to ‘democracy’ only to distinguish it sharply from the republican form of our American Constitutional system.”

On September 17 (Constitution Day), 1961, John Birch Society founder Robert Welch delivered an important speech, entitled “Republics and Democracies,” in which he proclaimed: “This is a Republic, not a Democracy. Let’s keep it that way!” The speech, which was later published and widely distributed in pamphlet form, amounted to a jolting wake-up call for many Americans. In his remarks, Welch not only presented the evidence to show that the Founding Fathers had established a republic and had condemned democracy, but he warned that the definitions had been distorted, and that powerful forces were at work to convert the American republic into a democracy, in order to bring about dictatorship.

Means to an End
Welch understood that democracy is not an end in itself but a means to an end. Eighteenth century historian Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, it is thought, argued that, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.” And as British writer G.K. Chesterton put it in the 20th century: “You can never have a revolution in order to establish a democracy. You must have a democracy in order to have a revolution.”

Communist revolutionary Karl Marx understood this principle all too well. Which is why, in The Communist Manifesto, this enemy of freedom stated that “the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle of democracy.” For what purpose? To “abolish private property”; to “wrest, by degrees, capital from the bourgeoisie”; to “centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State”; etc.

Another champion of democracy was Communist Mao Tse-tung, who proclaimed in 1939 (a decade before consolidating control on the Chinese mainland): “Taken as a whole, the Chinese revolutionary movement led by the Communist Party embraces the two stages, i.e., the democratic and the socialist revolutions, which are essentially different revolutionary processes, and the second process can be carried through only after the first has been completed. The democratic revolution is the necessary preparation for the socialist revolution, and the socialist revolution is the inevitable sequel to the democratic revolution. The ultimate aim for which all communists strive is to bring about a socialist and communist society.”

Still another champion of democracy is Mikhail Gorbachev, who stated in his 1987 book Perestroika that, “according to Lenin, socialism and democracy are indivisible…. The essence of perestroika lies in the fact that it unites socialism with democracy [emphasis in the original] and revives the Leninist concept…. We want more socialism and, therefore, more democracy.”

This socialist revolution has been underway in America for generations. In January 1964, President Lyndon Johnson boasted in a White House address: “We are going to try to take all of the money that we think is unnecessarily being spent and take it from the ‘haves’ and give it to the ‘have nots’ that need it so much.” What he advocated, of course, was a Marxist, not an American, precept. (The way Marx put it was: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”) But other presidents before and after have advanced the same goal. Of course, most who support this goal do not comprehend the totalitarian consequences of constantly transferring more power to Washington. But this lack of understanding is what makes revolution by the ballot box possible.

The push for democracy has only been possible because the Constitution is being ignored, violated, and circumvented. The Constitution defines and limits the powers of the federal government. Those powers, all of which are enumerated, do not include agricultural subsidy programs, housing programs, education assistance programs, food stamps, etc. Under the Constitution, Congress is not authorized to pass any law it chooses; it is only authorized to pass laws that are constitutional. Anybody who doubts the intent of the Founders to restrict federal powers, and thereby protect the rights of the individual, should review the language in the Bill of Rights, including the opening phrase of the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law…”).

As Welch explained in his 1961 speech:

… man has certain unalienable rights which do not derive from government at all…. And those … rights cannot be abrogated by the vote of a majority any more than they can by the decree of a conqueror. The idea that the vote of a people, no matter how nearly unanimous, makes or creates or determines what is right or just becomes as absurd and unacceptable as the idea that right and justice are simply whatever a king says they are. Just as the early Greeks learned to try to have their rulers and themselves abide by the laws they had themselves established, so man has now been painfully learning that there are more permanent and lasting laws which cannot be changed by either sovereign kings or sovereign people, but which must be observed by both. And that government is merely a convenience, superimposed on Divine Commandments and on the natural laws that flow only from the Creator of man and man’s universe.

Such is the noble purpose of the constitutional republic we inherited from our Founding Fathers.

This article, slightly revised, originally appeared in the November 6, 2000 issue of The New American.

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Author of “Automotive Atrocities” and “Road Hogs” (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia.

35 COMMENTS

  1. In order to recognize the American spirit of loyalty and the sacrifices that so many have made for our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as “Loyalty Day.” On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America, our Constitution, and our founding values.

    NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2012, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance, whether by displaying the flag of the United States or pledging allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.

    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

    Our dictator and thief has declared that you need to bust out your flag on May 1st.

    Here is my solute. (via John Prine)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgRVNjsuycQ

  2. The Founding Fathers of the U.S. were against democracy. They did not want to pay taxes to England, but they wanted the ignorant masses (the 99%) to continue to pay taxes to them. Now, groups such as the Tea Party, the Freemen, Libertarians, and other “defenders of the Constitution” continue to prop up the morally vacuous, anti-democracy ideology of the Founding Fathers. For the 99%, U.S. independence meant paying their taxes to the plutocrats of the U.S. rather than the aristocrats of England.

    • Yes, they were against democracy – as any moral person ought to be. What is democracy? It is the rule of the majority. Thus, “right” is defined as that which “most people” (or those claiming to represent most people) support. The individual has no rights – at least, none the majority is bound by law or morality to respect. The majority can vote to take his rights, including his property, or a portion thereof, at any time, for any reason – so long as the majority approves (or can plausibly claim a majority approves). Democracy is best defined as two wolves and a sheep holding a plebiscite to determine what’s for dinner. It implicitly countenances anything – including slavery and mass murder.

      Is there any more disgusting, nihilistic, bestial form of human interaction?

      The original American idea was not a democracy. It was a constitutional republic. Though not perfect, the constitutional republic at least concedes that there are some limits to the authority of government; that individuals have rights that cannot be taken away by vote. Or at least, not easily taken away. Government authority is specifically limited to certain functions. Beyond these, it may not tread.

      Such a system provides a great deal of liberty for all peaceful people. Not perfect liberty – but more than any other form of human society that’s existed – so far as I’m aware of.

      Democracy, meanwhile, provides omnipresent tyranny for the benefit of people who cannot abide peaceful, cooperative interaction. People who live by force. It is the negation of rights – because only individuals (not groups) have rights. Democracy is bullying writ large. I and my friends can force you to do as we say – because there are more of us than there are of you. Shit on that!

      PS: You might edumacate yourself about taxes in early America: No personal income taxes; no taxes on property. The only taxes in existence were minimal excise taxes, which were impersonal and largely avoidable and also minuscule. A man could own his home and land – really own them, not like today, where perpetual taxes mean you never truly own anything beyond your most basic personal possessions. Your income was yours. You only paid taxes if you bought certain things – which you could choose not to buy, or buy less of. And in any case, there is a tremendous difference between paying a slight excise or sales tax, anonymously, and being forced to provide every last detail about your financial and employment affairs to the government – and hand over 30-40 percent of that income in taxes, as is typical today.

      It took democracy to give us the personal income tax, taxes on property, taxes on literally everything – and inescapable as well as onerous.

      • Right on! Democracy is simply mob rule. The majority gets to use the guns of the government to implement their will. Simple as that.

    • BS it was much more than that. The Constitution and the way they set up the government was meant to protect the people from the government. Not only that, it was meant to protect the rights you were born with from the majority. No the constitution is not perfect that is why we have ammendments. No form of government is perfect at all. The less government the better. Heck I would prefer none at all anywhere on Earth. But I understand that people are ignorant, antisocial, greedy creatures by nature. So like it or not we are stuck with at least some form of governmental structure. But don’t tell me that life had gotten better with more government. That simply isn’t true.

      Furthermore, I couldn’t give a rats ass how much the 1% makes as long as they don’t use the force of “Democracy” to take it from my pocket.

      What we have is crony capitalism rife with corruption. Our founding fathers warned us about this over and over and we didn’t listen. Marx only got one thing right and that was that capitalism could be corrupted. However, he had no solution at all. Why? Because all forms of government can be corrupted!

      • The assumption that Constitution was written to protect anything is one of the most damaging ideas to liberty. All one needs to do is read up on the Whiskey Rebellion and the Sedition Act of 1789 to see that this is nonsense. Right from the beginning Washington and Hamilton were stepping on the rights of the people. Consider the following from Butler Shaffer:

        “If more people bothered to actually read this document — including President Obama, who once taught constitutional law and who, in this year’s state of the union address, erroneously declared that the Constitution provided that “all men are created equal” — they would discover the unlimited powers it provided to government. Beginning with a preamble setting forth the purposes of the Constitution being “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty,” the document proceeds to set forth how such purposes are to be attained.

        Article I, Sec. 8 informs us that “Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, . . . to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States. . . .” Later on, we discover that Congress also has the power “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.” Standing by themselves, these words would provide the most ambitious tyrant with the only grant of authority that would ever be needed to carry out his or her desired purposes. As Lord Macaulay so well expressed it, “Your Constitution is all sail and no anchor.””

        You are right when you say no form of gov is perfect. This is because *all* government is violence and therefore immoral at its very foundation.

        You said, “Heck I would prefer none at all anywhere on Earth. But I understand that people are ignorant, antisocial, greedy creatures by nature.”

        Do you not realize that this is an argument *against* having government?

        If people are as you describe, why on Earth would you give some of these people a monopoly on violence and then pray that they don’t act that way with their unlimited power? Can you honestly not see how illogical that is?

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUS1m5MSt9k

        • I do understand that it’s an argument against government. Because government is full of People who are by default corruptible. I also undestand that for commerce to prosper you must be able to leave your property without it being looted.

          I would prefer anarchy but I am willing to settle for minarchy.

            • It was not a bad deal while it lasted, though. Even through the early 1930s, this country was a far better place to live than almost anywhere else, insofar as being left alone (and having real liberty) was concerned. I’m not disagreeing with you in principle. I’m just saying that I would be extremely happy with the level of government that existed even as recently as 1960 vs. what we have to live with today.

          • Eric, you need to set your sights a bit higher. Recall what happened during each world war to people who had the temerity to say the wrong things.

  3. Hi!, Fellow Citizens Of Our US Republic:

    We needed these types of discussions long ago, before we breached our Constitution in mass. When you live in a Republic people and own a home (even that’s a joke today isn’t it?) you make the rules regards behavior on your property but, when you own a home within a Democracy, the majority rules others’ behavior on your property. Which do you want to prevail: your rules or theirs?
    Furthermore, according to Article 1; section 10 of the US Constitution only gold and silver coins are to circulate in our citizens’ pockets to pay for our needs. We don’t have either of them do we? Why? Oh!, we can buy silver & gold eagles from the US Mint plus a premium and shipping charges but the Constitutional precious metals coins circulate from the US Mint for Free without surcharges of any kind. A Great Depressin era older guy once told me he use to send in gold he panned from creeks and the US Mint produced gold coins for him and sent them back to him for FREE. No candidates running for political office for election this November 2012 are offering us this alternative. Even though Senator Ron Paul eludes to precious metals backed paper; that’s not what our Constitution calls for is it in Article 1; section 10? If we’re all going to play by the rules, then we each need to be guided by the rule book which past politicians have thrown away. If mass psychology is to abridge our Constitutional rights regards the quality of our money disregarding the use of precious metals, then that one act alone is a democratic act and not the act promoted within the boundaries of our Constitutional Republic isn’t it? Once we the people of these United States Of America and the Republic for which it stands return to sound, quality, noninflationary Constituional money, please let me be one of the first donars of picks and shovels our political leaders can use for digging up both gold and silver to use in our Republican monetary system which did long ago.

    RUSS SMITH, CALIFORNIA
    resmith@wcisp.com

  4. Great post, Our Constitution has one flaw, It has no teeth. In other words, no penilty for breaking it. I wish everyone could see that magically converting our constitutional Republic into a democracy is the root of all our current problems. Restoring our Constitution is only way out. Ron Paul is the only one who has any interest in doing that.

  5. The Star Spangled Banner needs to be updated. The current version should Read. “The Land of the greed and the home of the slaves”

    • I’d go farther: That song is about state worship. Like the Pledge. Screw all that. Government is at best a necessary evil; it is nothing to be revered. I revere human rights; the beauty of the country.

      Not the flag; most definitely not the government represented by the flag.

  6. I tend to agree with the expressed view of the democracy vs. republic article. The issue I cannot seem to reconcile in my mind is that we have given our representatives (in the republic model) the authority to set up regulatory/social program departments which have then become institutions unto themselves, morphed into bureauricies which are in bed with the very activities (companies, individuals, institutions) that they are supposed to be policing/regulating. It is these various departments to which the bulk of our taxes are dedicated (wasted?).
    Therein lies my quandry. How do we, as individuals, shrink these departments in order to rein in our overgrown national budget without severly affecting the “good” that they are supposed to be doing. Can we influence and then trust our elected representatives to do this? And what is their incentive to do so when these $$$$’s are the basis of their power base and as we all know, that is why they want to get elected/reelected to begin with…..”Power”.
    As Boothe said in an earlier post, “The people are supposed to select honest, reasonable and intelligent men to go to the capitol, engage in debate and promulgate laws for them”. Where do we find these people and how to we keep them “honest and reasonable” once they drink the seductive nectar of “Power”?

    • John, I would hesitate to say “we have given our representatives (in the republic model) the authority to set up regulatory/social program departments which have then become institutions unto themselves…” because in most cases that power was taken, not granted. Much of our current bureaucratic rat maze is the result of executive decree, judicial activism and regulatory meddling. If any legislation is involved, it is usually Congress abdicating their authority in a law they’ve passed with words like “the Secretary of the _______ shall promulgate regulations for the implementation of this act….”. This leaves the actual rubber-meets-the-road language of an ambiguous (and therefore unconstitutional) law up to an executive department head. You and I didn’t “allow” this anymore than my great-great grandfather “allowed” King Lincoln to march men with guns across Virginia.

      What we can do is find men at the local level of high moral character that we know (or at least who have good references) and encourage and support them to run for local and state office. Then we can watch how they vote and act, to see if we want them in federal office. We can make sure that their message of reducing the size of government remains consistent over time (flip-flopping on issues is a dead give away for no integrity). Men like this will be few and far between. Once they are there (in DC) we have to keep watching them and point out any inconsistencies or deviations from their directive to our neighbors. Right now I am focusing on Dr. Paul. If we can get him in, then others like him will join the fray.

      Ron Paul has forced the establishment to change the direction and subject of political debate in this country. If we manage to get him nominated, we can probably get him elected. But he can’t fix this mess alone. He will need each and every one of us to support him by spreading the truth and not backing down from friends, neighbors and family. He will need us to send men to congress that will work with him for our benefit.

      It won’t be easy. It won’t be quick. You won’t make many friends with the truth. There are no guarantees we will prevail. But the alternatives for radical political change tend to be very messy and usually result in a worse political situation than what you started with. Always remember, the change you want to see in the world starts with you.

  7. I think this whole thing is a cycle. We had a tru Republic at one time. However, Individuls and / or companies, continue to always find ways to make a better life for themselves – and some do it at the expense of others or the environment. Therefore, if you have drunk drivers getting in bad accidents affecting others – there will obviously be an outcry – as we have seen the last 20 or so years. If you have companies polluting our environment and affecting the health of others, then there will be an outcry. Then when you get the government in on the game, by helping everyone buy a house who cannot afford it, our foundation is shaken to its core. Again, i think this is a natural evolution of America. A true Republic works, but ultimately by the actions of some of its own citizens exploiting laws , etc. – the people will put pressure on our representatives to do something to stop various corruptions and that eventually leads us to where we are today. Another example – our government was not authoritative enough during the credit crisis because there was obviously some magor oversight problems. Bottom line is that it is a very fine line between trusting our own citizens and entrepenurial spirit to always do the right thing and having government not being so over ruling that it chokes our freedom and spirit. Hopefully, we can steer the ship around this part of Americas current obstacles.

  8. Good refresher indeed but in recent times am getting confused whether democracy has suddenly transformed into democrazy?
    This is because recent trends around the world ranging from global warming management , regional conflicts , potential explosive situations around the middle east, famine and deases in Africa, world economic Crises and you name them. Despite many years of human development as superior creation the surving equation gets evermore complicated with or without democracy. Therefore , the founding fathers democracy must have had it very tough to set the ball rolling?

    • Democracy, as political theorists and historians have noted, is inherently unstable and (so far) has always been a mere transition stage between a free society and an authoritarian one. Because a democracy will quickly turn into a feeding frenzy, a rush to the bottom, on the basis of “equality” (of outcomes) and “fairness.” When the individual has no rights, no one has any rights. The mob rules. In practice, those who lead the mob rule. The definition of tyranny.

  9. Wow, beautiful & inspiring!
    This is the first time I have been motivated to respond to any internet article. I don’t agree completely with Ron Paul, but yes, he’s the only current contender capable of getting us back on track. Lord help us!

  10. Good article, but I would like to know specifically, what is the difference(s) between a republic and a democracy. This is what needs to be brought out into the public discussion because the average American has no idea. We all “know” we are a republic, because of the pledge of allegiance, but most do not know what differentiates the two.
    An example such as regarding our court system told to me long ago…our President and Congress could pass a law making it illegal for left handed people to drive a car. A person is caught in violation of this new law, is charged and brought to trial. “We the people”, who sit on the jury could refuse to convict a man for such an unfair law. Thus “We the People” are more powerful than our President or Congress.
    I’d love to hear more…..

    • John the short answer is democracy is one man, one vote. Democracy is mod rule.

      A republic is a representative form of government. The people are supposed to select honest, reasonable and intelligent men to go to the capitol, engage in debate and promulgate laws for them. In our case, a Constitutional Republic, our representatives are supposed to do this within the confines of what the Constitution allows.

        • The original “mod” is correct. The commentator was using: adj.
          Relating to a recently developed fashion or style

          The intent was that popular opinion is fashion, not reason. That is why a republic is supposed to assign reasonable persons to represent us in government, not fashionable thinkers. Conventional Wisdom is really common nonsense. “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Our world is full of uneducated, ignorant fools; each one can vote.

    • Hi John,

      “Democracy” amounts to majority rule. Anything is on the table to be voted on and the individual must submit to the will the majority, once the majority or its supposed representatives issues a law, etc. To be more precise, the individual has no legally recognized rights as such. Only the majority – “society” – has rights, as expressed by “majority rule.”

      In a Republic, the rights of the individual are specified and not subject to majority rule. Government is defined and its authority specifically limited, beyond which it may not lawfully proceed.

      So, the US Constitution was written to spell out what the specific limits of federal authority were; the Bill of Rights to define the rights of the individual.

      We had a Republic. We now live under a Democracy. Some confusion arises, because our current Democracy still pretends to be a Republic. The Constitution, for example, is still paid lip service. However, it is obviously null and void – all you have to do is read the thing (and compare it with what the government does as a matter of routine these days) to see what I mean.

      Reason? What is called “case law” – that is, what various courts “rule” to be (or not be) “constitutional” is taken as the law of the land rather than the plain meaning of the Constitution (and Bill of Rights) as written.

      Thus, for example, the simple language of the 4th Amendment:

      “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

      Is clearly inoperative. The courts have “ruled” that it is lawful – “constitutional” to randomly stop motorists to “check” them for seatbelt use, sobriety and so on. If language has any meaning, this is by definition not constitutional. But the courts have “ruled” otherwise.

      And so on.

      Federal authority is now in practice unlimited – and the rights of the individual violated without limit.

      If the “health care” law is affirmed, unlimited federal authority will be affirmed in principle. If Washington can force you to purchase a private company’s product or service on the basis of your health affecting “interstate commerce” then every aspect of your life – including what you eat, what your hobbies are, etc. – will be officially-legally a matter of “public interest” and subject to government regulation and control.

      • You are correct on all counts. The USA was maybe once a republic, then it was morphed into a covert dictatorship it is now transforming into an open dictatorship. The police state apparatus is in place all that is required now is an excuse to bring down the hammer.

        I have always labelled Americans as stupid….being enslaved/bought with your own money definitely qualifies them as stupid.

    • Dear John,

      My two cents?

      What is the difference between a republic and a democracy?

      A republic is a nation ruled by law. The highest law in a republic is its constitution. In a republic everyone obeys the constitution.

      A democracy, on the other hand, is a nation ruled by men. The highest law in a democracy is the “Will of the People.” In a democracy, everyone obeys a man who represents the Will of the People. A man who represents the Will of the People is better known as a dictator.

      That was from an article I penned back in 2005.

      http://thechinadesk.blogspot.tw/2005/08/democracy-worst-form-of-government-part.html

      Since then I have concluded that:

      Constitutional republicanism is unquestionably superior to democracy. Unfortunately, merely being better than democracy isn’t good enough. Constitutional republicanism, given enough time, degenerates into democracy, aka elective dictatorship.

      The Separation of Powers was supposed to be the primary firewall between constitutional republicanism and democracy. Alas, it has proven to be inadequate. Given time, it burns right through.

      Democracy meanwhile, takes no time at all to degenerate into dictatorship. That’s because democracy is a form of dictatorship. It was never anything else.

      It is high time defenders of natural rights and individual liberty forsook their irrational attachment to “limited government.” Limited government never remains limited. It always becomes unlimited.

      It is high time self-styled nation-builders ceased thinking in terms of “limited government,” and began thinking in terms of “no government,” of a radically different system that truly separates and limits the powers — free market anarchism.

      http://thechinadesk.blogspot.tw/2007/02/myth-of-checks-and-balances.html

      Limited government is merely totalitarianism in its embryonic stage.

  11. Thanks for the refresher course on the difference between a democracy and a republic and the fact that the USA was intended to be a republic.

    Now how to get enough people to know this so that we can save our country.

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