Does our nation still represent the ideals of people who founded it? Those people created a republic. Yet it has become almost farcical to call our government a republic. Is our republic is about to fall? How would we recognize that our republic is about to fall? What signs would we see? What signs do we see?
What Is A Republic?
If our republic is about to fall, what is it that we are about to lose? What is a republic? Check the dictionary and you will find little distinction made between a republic and a democracy. James Madison, however, recognized a crucial difference, and he explained that difference on November 23, 1787 in The Federalist Papers : No. 10 (see THE ADVANTAGE OF A REPUBLIC OVER A DEMOCRACY). Madison saw a republican (Note that lowercase “r”.) form of government as necessary to controlling factional strife.
How did Madison define the term “faction”?
By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.
Madison understood that we all tend to look after our own interests first. He also understood that good government exists to further the permanent and aggregate interests of the community. Therefore, Madison sought a form of government that would counter the demagoues who seek to pit poor against rich, farmers against city people, north against the south, customers against merchants, Protestants against Catholics, and so forth. Madison saw no such solution in a pure democracy.
From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such 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 have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.
Because we each have trouble restraining our wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony, pure democracy does not suffice to protect an individual’s God-given rights. Pure democracy just enables the majority to tyrannize the minority.
The United States has a large, heterogeneous People, cobbled together from nations all over world. Thus, we call ourselves a nation of immigrants, and we make our cultural and ethnic diversity a source of pride. Nevertheless, more and more we practice that form of government known as majoritarian tyranny, and more and more our leaders insist that we all think and believe the same things. Therefore, even though we retain the appearance of diversity, the majority stifles the diversity of beliefs which permits each of us to follow the dictates of our own conscience. And that’s the reason for this series of posts. In the following posts we will examine these issues.
- Part 2 — Upon What Principles Did The Founders Base Our Government?: posted May 12, 2013
- Part 3 — Upon What Principles Do We Base The Government We Have Today?
- Part 4 — What Are The Signs That Our Republic Is About To Fall?
- Part 5 — As Our Republic Works Towards Its Demise, What Are We Losing?
To Be Continued.
- ‘Democracy’ vs. ‘Republic’ (beowulfjournal.wordpress.com)
- The Fall of The Athenian Republic (and some less ancient history) (grumpyelder.com)
- One more time: America is a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC – NOT a Democracy! (therightofway.net)
- Does Taking an Oath on the Constitution Count for Anything? (politicaloutcast.com)