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Darnit, we’re not a “Democracy!”
UPDATED ON ELECTION DAY.
This is our first article ever, published on October 20, 2004. Since I’m hearing so much about our "democracy," It’s high time to dust this article off for a renewed dance on the front page.
The United States of America is not now, has never been, and God willing, will never be a democracy. We have been, since the inception of our Constitution, a republic. The people have delegated their power to representatives they have elected, and these representatives exercise (or are at least supposed to exercise) their power according to their good judgment and in the best interests of those who elected them.
The President is our representative, appointed to execute the laws according to the constitution. Each person’s senators represent the whole of their respective states. Each person’s congressperson represents that district that elected him or her. The courts, the tribunals that dispense neutral justice, are staffed with judges that are appointed by the president and approved by the Senate.
Direct democracy is an invitation to chaos. Majority rule would trounce the rights of those who are in the minority. The founders of this country recognized this. The Constitution of the United States explicitly states this: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government . . .” U.S. Const., Art 4. § 4. Thousands of years ago, Plato properly railed against Democracy as a precursor to tyranny. Remember that a democracy killed Socrates, not for any real offense, but rather for his opinion, differing with the majority.
The Republican form of government we have enjoyed since 1789 is designed with the following underlying basic tenets:
- The People have the power;
- They retain to themselves a set of inalienable rights;
- They delegate parts of their power to the states and the United States of America, in order to protect their inalienable rights.
No changing whim of “50% plus one” of the people can serve to deny or disparage the rights of the rest of the people. Thank God for the founders and the wisdom he gave them in order to create this country. Moreover, thank God for those who, unlike the original conventioneers, thought it necessary to set forth the inalienable rights of the people in the first ten amendments to the Constitution; those rights have set millions upon millions of people free and laid down the essential goodness of our government in a permanent form.
In a Democracy, there would have been no civil war, for a majority of the population in 1861 supported the evil of slavery. The plebiscite would have ruled; not a president with a conscience. People with no difference from us other than darker skin would be treated as non-humans. In my opinion, the United States would have collapsed under the weight of its whims, were it a democracy, sometime before 1900.
Our Republican government gives our leaders the responsibility to exercise their conscience in leadership. When properly done, our people prosper, our enemies flee, and the republic thrives. Witness George W. Bush. When September 11, 2001 came about, this good – no great – man stepped up and aggressively attacked terrorists. He has wiped out 75% of Al-Qaeda. He has also deposed Saddam Hussein, whose footsie-playing about mass destructive weapons left me with the view that I still hold: He had them and he snuck them out of the country. Nonetheless, he was the most bloodthirsty tyrant in the region and furthermore was actively helping terrorists. He’s gone, and Quadafi in Libya nearly tinkled in his pants and voluntarily ante’d up his WMD programs. These three major victories belong to W’s conscious decision to stay the course and exercise the judgment for which the people elected him.
There is only one place for direct democracy: Recall. In the event that an elected leader is such a screwup that he or she needs to be removed, then there has to be a mechanism to execute that task. Arnold Schwartzenegger is an example of the proper use of that limited exercise of direct democracy. I do, however, think that a supermajority ought to be required to exercise that power.
We’re not a democracy. I sure as heck hope that we did not institute “democracy” in Iraq or Afghanistan, but rather Republics. Please let’s no longer besmirch the republican form of government with terms such as “representative democracy.” Let’s call a Republic a Republic.