Republic versus Democracy
Republic versus Democracy
As Lord Acton said, ‘historical thought’ is far more important than historical knowledge. Historical thought is using the lessons of history to understand the present and to make decisions for the future. In other words, it was by using history as an analytical tool and making use of the lessons of history that our founders brought our Constitution into being.
Even though nearly every politician, teacher, journalist and citizen believes that our Founders created a democracy, they did not. The Founders knew full-well the differences between a Republic and a Democracy. In a Republic, the sovereignty is in each individual person. In a Democracy the sovereignty is in the group. And, “Republic” is the proper description of our government, not “Democracy.”
A Republic is representative government ruled by law (the Constitution). A democracy is direct government ruled by the majority (mob rule). A Republic recognizes the inalienable rights of individuals while democracies are only concerned with group wants or needs (the public good). I invite you to join me in raising public awareness regarding this distinction.
Democracies always self-destruct when the non-productive majority realizes that it can vote itself handouts from the productive minority by electing the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury. To maintain their power, these candidates must adopt an ever-increasing tax and spend policy to satisfy the ever-increasing desires of the majority.
As taxes increase, incentive to produce decreases, causing many of the once productive to drop out and join the non-productive. When there are no longer enough producers to fund the legitimate functions of government and the socialist programs, the democracy will collapse, always to be followed by a Dictatorship.
All liberals and some conservatives would do well to study the classics. Compare the Greek’s failed Democracy to the Roman’s failed Republic. They both end in tragedy as unfettered Democracy leads to ‘mob’ rule, which then leads to an Oligarchy (Oppression). The clear distinction between the Greek and the Roman governments is that the Roman Republic lasted longer and was the envy of the world.
It wasn’t until the Roman Republic allowed LIBERALS to kill the Republic by becoming a pure Democracy (mob rule). This then led to an Oligarchy (the reign of the Caesars), and eventually the Roman Empire collapsed under its own bureaucratic, liberal weight. Quite simply, the Roman government tried to give the people too many entitlements and then had to oppress the people just to maintain them.
This is the reality that our Founding Fathers were great students of. They understood that a Democracy would ultimately crumble under its own weight. This is why you will not find the words ‘Democracy’ anywhere in the Constitution. But you will find the word ‘Republic’. You can also read the Federalist Papers, where you will also find the Founders clearly warning against pure Democracy. And in the end, this is why we have the 10th Amendment.
True Conservatism seeks limited government, individual liberty, and the preservation of the Republic (from the Latin translation Rule of Laws). Democracy (from the Latin translation Rule of the People) seeks to destroy the Republic, destroy individual liberty, and ultimately establish an Oligarchy… or oppression.
To date, a representative Republic is THE most successful and humane form of government the world has every known. There is not ‘one’ successful Democracy (in its pure form) that hasn’t been consigned to the ash-heap of history (name one if you can). Therefore, our Founding Fathers gave us the gift of a Republic, not a Democracy.
It is true that conservatism seeks to maintain our Republic. Liberalism and liberal paternalism is tyranny, and our Founders astutely knew that. In the Pledge of Allegiance we all pledge allegiance to our Republic, not to a Democracy. “Republic” is the proper description of our government, not “Democracy.”
It is too bad that we don’t teach the classics to our children.