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On Democracy in Our Republic
The following excerpts are intended to lead you to consider some important questions about things you may have always taken for granted. The primary one being the perception that democracy is synonymous with freedom. It is not! And although many of our institutions include some form of democratic-like participation, we do not live in a democracy for some very good reasons, some of which are stated below.
Our Republic of the United States of America was founded upon the principles of Liberty (the right to do whatever one wishes so long as those actions do not infringe upon the equal rights of others) and limited government, not upon democracy. In fact, seldom if ever will one see reference to democracy in the founding documents of our nation, at least in a positive context. Peculiar, don't you think if we are suppose to live in a democracy as our politicians tell us?
Consider that in the past, we had Liberty coins, not democracy coins. We have the Statue of Liberty, not the Statue of Democracy. We pledge allegiance to the flag, and to the Republic for which it stands, not the democracy for which it stands. Patrick Henry said: "Give me Liberty or give me death!", not "Give me democracy or give me death".
So you may ask, if we live in a Republic founded upon the principles of Liberty and limited government, why do many of our politicians keep trying to shove this concept of democracy down our throats, as if freedom naturally followed? That is a very good question!
Perhaps they don't like the limits on the powers that have been granted them by our state and federal constitutions. Maybe because majority rule sounds legitimate and moral on its face, they wish to use our own ignorance to enslave us with the consent of the masses; and to extract from us every last penny that we have. Or maybe they have other self-serving motivations. Whatever the case may be, only knowledge of our heritage will enable us to anticipate such schemes and act accordingly to right the direction of our Republic.
Please take the time and consider the following selected excerpts copied without permission from Chapter 3 of The Unseen Hand: An Introduction to the Conspiratorial View of History (1985) by A. Ralph Epperson:
It is generally conceded that even a monarchy or a dictatorship is an oligarchy, or a government run by a small, ruling minority.
Such is also the case with a democracy, for this form of government is traditionally controlled at the top by a small ruling oligarchy. The people in a democracy are conditioned to believe that they are indeed the decision-making power of government, but in truth there is almost always a small circle at the top making the decisions for the entirety.
As proof of these contentions, one has only to read the 1928 United States Army Training Manual, which defined democracy as:
A government of the masses. Authority - derived through mass meeting or any form of 'direct' expression. Results in mobocracy. Attitude toward property is communistic - negating property rights. Attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether it be based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences. Results in demagogism, license, agitation, discontent, anarchy.
A democracy, according to this definition, is actually controlled by a demagogue, defined as: "A speaker who seeks to make capital of social discontent and gain political influence."
The 1928 definition of a democracy was later changed by those who write Army manuals, however. In 1952, this became the definition of a democracy in The Soldiers Guide, Department of the Army Field Manual, issued in June of 1952:
Meaning of democracy. Because the United States is a democracy, the majority of the people decide how our government will be organized and run - and that includes the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The people do this by electing representatives, and these men and women then carry out the wishes of the people.
So if democracies are in truth oligarchies, where the minority rules, is there a form of government that protects both minority and majority rights? There is, and it is called a republic, which may be defined as: "a society with a form of government based upon rule by law, in which both governed and government are subject to law". In the republican form of government, the power rests in a written constitution wherein the powers of the government are limited so that the people retain the maximum amount of power themselves. In addition to limiting the power of government, care is also taken to limit the power of the people to restrict the rights of both the majority and the minority.
Perhaps the simplest method of illustrating the difference between an oligarchy, a democracy and a republic would be to discuss the basic plot of the classic grade B western movie.
In this plot, one that the moviegoer has probably seen a hundred times, the brutal villain rides into town and guns down the unobtrusive town merchant by provoking him into a gunfight. The sheriff hears the gunshot and enters the scene. He asks the assembled crowd what happened, and they relate the story. The sheriff then takes the villain into custody and removes him to the city jail.
Back at the scene of the shooting, usually in a tavern, an individual stands up on a table (this individual by definition is a Demagogue) and exhorts the crowd to take the law into its own hands and lynch the villain. The group decides that this is the course of action that they should take (notice that the group now becomes a democracy where the majority rules) and down the street they (now called a mob) go. They reach the jail and demand that the villain be released to their custody. The mob has spoken by majority vote: the villain must hang.
The sheriff appears before the democracy and explains that the villain has the right to a trial by jury. The demagogue counters by explaining that the majority has spoken: the villain must hang. The sheriff explains that his function is to protect the rights of the individual, be he innocent or guilty, until that individual has the opportunity to defend himself in a court of law. The sheriff continues by explaining that the will of the majority cannot deny the individual that right. The demagogue continues to exhort the democracy to lynch the villain, but if the sheriff is persuasive and convinces the democracy that he exists to protect their rights as well, the scene should end as the people leave, convinced of the merits of the arguments of the sheriff.
The republican form of government has triumphed over the democratic form of mob action.
In summary, the sheriff represents the republic, the demagogue the control of the democracy, and the mob the democracy. The republic recognizes that man has certain inalienable rights and that government is created to protect those rights, even from acts of the majority. Notice that the republic must be persuasive in front of democracy and that the republic will only continue to exist as long as the people recognize the importance and validity of the concept. Should the people wish to overthrow the republic and the sheriff, they certainly have the power (but not the right) to do so.
But the persuasive nature of the republic's arguments should convince the mob that it is the preferable form of government.
It is easy to see how a democracy can turn into anarchy [or, more likely, tyranny] when unscrupulous individuals wish to manipulate it. The popular beliefs of the majority can be turned into a position of committing some injustice against an individual or group of individuals. This then becomes the excuse for the unscrupulous to grab total power, all in an effort to "remedy the situation."
Alexander Hamilton [first Secretary of the Treasury] was aware of this tendency of a democratic form of government to be torn apart by itself, and he has been quoted as writing:
"We are now forming a republican form of government. Real liberty is not found in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments. If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon turn into a monarchy (or some other form of dictatorship)."
Others were led to comment on the perils of democratic forms of government. One was James Madison [fourth U.S. President] who wrote:
"In all cases where a majority are united by a common interest or passion, the rights of the minority are in danger!" Another was John Adams [second U.S. President] who wrote: "Unbridled passions produce the same effects, whether in a king, nobility, or a mob. The experience of all mankind has proved the prevalence of a disposition to use power wantonly. It is therefore as necessary to defend an individual against the majority (in a democracy) as against the king in a monarchy."
George Washington, in his farewell address to the American people as he was leaving the presidency, spoke about the amending of the Constitution:
If in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional power be in any particular [manner] wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way in which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation, for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.
It was about the same time that a British professor named Alexander Fraser Tyler wrote:
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can exist only until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse (defined as a liberal gift) out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy, always to be followed by a dictatorship."
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