NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
Most people pretty often hear here and there accusations among political contenders of being anti-democratic, while demanding ‘more democracy.’ Most consider the United a States a Democracy regardless that only two traditional political parties – which many believe are partners – are allowed in the debates – while other less known parties are blocked from participating. The majority talk about Democracy as the safeguard of liberty, but, is it? How about a Republican form of government – we never hear public debates about it. Was the US created as a Democracy or a Republic? The following article – which doesn’t identifies its author – brings light about the difference of the two. You, the reader have the last word.
THIS IS PART 2 OF A SERIES.
An important distinction: Democracy versus Republic, which one is best for individual liberty?
by anonymous author
This topic–the danger to the people’s liberties due to the turbulence of democracies and omnipotent, legislative majority–is discussed in The Federalist, for example in numbers 10 and 48 by Madison (in the latter noting Jefferson’s above-quoted comments).
The Framing Convention’s records prove that by decrying the “excesses of democracy” The Framers were, of course, not opposing a popular type of government for0 the United States; their whole aim and effort was to create a sound system of this type. To contend to the contrary is to falsify history. Such a falsification not only maligns the high purpose and good character of The Framers but belittles the spirit of the truly Free Man in America–the people at large of that period–who happily accepted and lived with gratification under the Constitution as their own fundamental law and under the Republic which it created, especially because they felt confident for the first time of the security of their liberties thereby protected against abuse by all possible violators, including The Majority momentarily in control of government. The truth is that The Framers, by their protests against the “excesses of democracy,” were merely making clear their sound reasons for preferring a Republic as the proper form of government. They well knew, in light of history, that nothing but a Republic can provide the best safeguards–in truth in the long run the only effective safeguards (if enforced in practice)–for the people’s liberties which are inescapably victimized by Democracy’s form and system of unlimited Government-over-Man featuring The Majority Omnipotent. They also knew that the American people would not consent to any form of government but that of a Republic. It is of special interest to note that Jefferson, who had been in Paris as the American Minister for several years, wrote Madison from there in March 1789 that:
“The tyranny of the legislatures is the most formidable dread at present, and will be for long years. That of the executive will come it’s turn, but it will be at a remote period.”
Somewhat earlier, Madison had written Jefferson about violation of the Bill of Rights by State legislatures, stating:
“Repeated violations of those parchment barriers have been committed by overbearing majorities in every State. In Virginia I have seen the bill of rights violated in every instance where it has been opposed to a popular current.”
It is correct to say that in any Democracy–either a Direct or a Representative type–as a form of government, there can be no legal system which protects The Individual or The Minority (any or all minorities) against unlimited tyranny by The Majority. The undependable sense of self-restraint of the persons making up The Majority at any particular time offers, of course, no protection whatever. Such a form of government is characterized by The Majority Omnipotent and Unlimited. This is true, for example, of the Representative Democracy of Great Britain; because unlimited government power is possessed by the House of Lords, under an Act of Parliament of 1949–indeed, it has power to abolish anything and everything governmental in Great Britain.
For a period of some centuries ago, some English judges did argue that their decisions could restrain Parliament; but this theory had to be abandoned because it was found to be untenable in the light of sound political theory and governmental realities in a Representative Democracy. Under this form of government, neither the courts not any other part of the government can effectively challenge, much less block, any action by The Majority in the legislative body, no matter how arbitrary, tyrannous, or totalitarian they might become in practice. The parliamentary system of Great Britain is a perfect example of Representative Democracy and of the potential tyranny inherent in its system of Unlimited Rule by Omnipotent Majority. This pertains only to the potential, to the theory, involved; governmental practices there are irrelevant to this discussion.
Madison’s observations in The Federalist number 10 are noteworthy at this point because they highlight a grave error made through the centuries regarding Democracy as a form of government. He commented as follows:
“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.”
Democracy, as a form of government, is utterly repugnant to–is the very antithesis of–the traditional American system: that of a Republic, and its underlying philosophy, as expressed in essence in the Declaration of Independence with primary emphasis upon the people’s forming their government so as to permit them to possess only “just powers” (limited powers) in order to make and keep secure the God-given, unalienable rights of each and every Individual and therefore of all groups of Individuals. (WILL CONTINUE ON THE NEXT WEEK EDITION).