Cynthia Hren: The U.S. is a constitutional republic
I received a second challenge on the editorial page of The Union from a man who doesn’t believe that our nation was established as, and remains, a constitutional republic.
My informative and educational op-ed last February outlined the history of our founders and their vision for our country as they created our Constitution. I also compared the differences between a Democracy and a Republic and gave examples of democracies in ancient Greece and Rome and why pure democracies are doomed to failure through corruption and tyranny, as has been recorded historically.
The writer’s article is full of unfounded personal opinions and judgments and a hateful emotional rant without any documented facts. He wonders why local historians haven’t refuted my article about our Constitutional Republic. It’s because the facts in my article are documented historical truths and his opinions are unsubstantiated claims such as: “in 1828 no modern democracies had developed anywhere in the world.”
My challenger needs to refresh his high school history and civics classes if he wishes his commentary to be respected. There is no significant distinction between a modern and ancient pure democracy; they are essentially the same system.
A check in Wikipedia under “Athenian Democracy” states that Athens Greece was governed by a pure Democracy from the fourth to fifth century B.C. and lasted 186 years. A pure Democracy is a government where all citizens can vote directly on their rules and laws, whereas a Republic is where representatives are elected by the voters and these representatives vote on rules and laws. In practice, the majority wins under a Democracy to the potential detriment of the minorities.
In a Constitutional Republic, the head of state and lawmakers are representatives elected by the people to govern our nation and states. This is government by consent of the governed, electing state and federal officials to represent us in making decisions, rules and laws. Our Constitution places overarching restrictions on the government that protects the personal rights of minorities from government abuse.
It was the belief of our founders, based on centuries of historical precedence, that mankind is easily corrupted by power and greed, so they set about to limit government corruption by instituting limited government power. They established checks and balances in our government in the three branches, the executive, legislative and judicial. The Founding Fathers created a democratically-elected representative government where the elected official is the one who receives the most votes.
The rights of all people, including minorities, enshrined in the Constitution are protected. Article 4 Section 4 of our Constitution states: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” In this way, the Constitution limits the powers of what a simple majority vote of all voters can impose under a pure democracy.
My challenger also ignores our Pledge of Allegiance to the flag: “ … and to the Republic for which it stands …” Many of our politicians, and virtually all media, incorrectly call our country a Democracy, and as the saying goes, if you say something often enough and long enough, uninformed people start to believe it as truth.
James Madison, in the Federalist Papers No. 10 writes: “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention, have 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. Republics are superior to Democracies because Republics safeguard against tyranny of the majority.”
I don’t think my challenger and I will ever agree because he seems to want what he calls a Democracy, but is in fact a large socialist, bloated bureaucratic government with social-welfare programs that control people from the top down and from cradle to grave.
He wants to empower elected and unelected officials to make decisions regardless of the will of the people they are supposed to serve, and of the limits imposed by the Constitution. He also wants these officials to offer subsidies and freebies to keep themselves in power. This socialist form of government actually hurts minorities by locking them into an endless system of poverty and lack of motivation to succeed.
Our Constitution sets up a government based on individual self-reliance and a limited government of the people, by the people, and for the people, based on the liberty and freedoms that our founders provided, when they gave us a Constitutional Republic.
Cynthia Hren lives in Nevada City.
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