Cynthia Hren: We are not a democracy
Presidential candidates, elected officials and most writers to this newspaper have all incorrectly referred to our nation as a democracy.
If you recall in our pledge of allegiance to the flag “… and to the Republic for which it stands …” clearly refers to the Constitutional Republic that is the United States of America.
A story goes that when Benjamin Franklin exited the first Constitutional Convention back in 1787, a woman on the street asked him, “Sir, what have you given us?” Franklin’s reply was, “A republic Ma’am, if you can keep it.”
“Democracy” has been repeated so often that it has been accepted as truth, but in reality, that is not who we are. Neither our Declaration of Independence nor our Constitution has any mention of a democracy, nor do any of our 50 state constitutions.
Support Local Journalism
In a Constitutional Republic the minority has explicit rights within the Constitution, which even the majority may not violate, and follows an objective fixed standard, Rule of Law. In a democracy, majority rule is a subjective, ever changing standard and follows Rule of Man, law becomes whatever the majority says it is.
In a republic, the government is limited by the supreme law of the Constitution. Our Declaration of Independence states: “all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights … that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.” In a democracy, or unrestrained majority rule of the people, if more than half of the people decide they want something, they rule. What if that majority decides to take away your home, business, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, or your children?
Our founding fathers had much to say about democracies. In the Federalist Papers, James Madison, known as the father of the Constitution, wrote: “Democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property, and have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” Alexander Hamilton wrote: “Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of democracy.” Samuel Adams wrote: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself.”
In every historical case, democracies ended in mob rule, wild excesses of government, anarchy or tyranny under an oligarchy. Such were the cases in ancient Greece and Rome. Rome created a republic that limited government power so people were free to produce and keep the fruits of their labor which led to free trade. Rome became prosperous, wealthy and was the envy of the world.
However, in their time of plenty, the people became complacent and forgot that freedom entailed rule of law. The essence of freedom is the proper limitation of government. When government power grows, people’s power recedes. Power-seeking politicians exceeded the powers granted in the Roman constitution and learned that they could elect politicians to use government power to take property from some and give it to others. Agricultural subsidies were introduced, housing and welfare programs were implemented, taxes rose and regulatory controls over the private sector were imposed. Does this sound like the current progressive agenda?
Rome’s producers couldn’t make ends meet and went on the government dole. Shortages developed, the currency was debased, and mobs began roaming streets demanding “bread and circuses” from the government. Many citizens were induced to trade freedom for security. Their system went from a republic to a democracy and ended in tyrannical oligarchy under the rule of Caesars. (YouTube.com: Republic vs. Democracy; Why America is a Republic)
So you see, democracy is not a stable form of government. It’s a transition from limited government to unlimited rule of the majority and ends in tyranny.
We the People, have a choice. We can work to keep our Constitutional Republic by learning more about what our founders created for our country with limited government and Rule of Law, or submit to the demands of an ever increasing democratic government mobocracy, or tyranny of the elite. To fully understand our Constitutional Republic as our founders intended, there are local courses being offered through The Institute on the Constitution (530-802-0865).
I invite and challenge all, liberal or conservative, to learn what you did not learn in high school, college, or dare I say, even law school. Lawyers studied case law, not the Constitution. These major failings of our education system can be understood by taking the course referenced above.
Maybe those who refer to our government as a democracy are those who wish it were true. Don’t let that be you.
Cynthia Hren lives in Nevada City.
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Connect with needs and opportunities from
Get immediate access to organizations and people in our area that need your help or can provide help during the Coronavirus crisis.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.