Just in: “Democracy” doomed to fail…

Aren’t you glad the United States is not and has never been a democracy?

I have decided to take some time to cover the 28 principles outlined in W. Cleon Skousen’s book “The 5000 Year Leap”. The founders believed these principles to be necessary to establish and maintain the form of government that has made this country the greatest bastion of freedom in the world. In each post we will dissect one of the principles and apply it to problems faced by our country. I hope you will take the time to read “The 5000 Year Leap” and accompany me on this journey of exploration.

Today we will look at the twelth principle: The United States of America Shall be a Republic.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands…..

In all of their infinite wisdom the founders understood that a democratic nation was a recipe for disaster. Being studied in history as they were they understood that direct democracies inevitably collapse under their own weight and spiral into tyranny. The Greeks tried to institute direct democracies in their city states each time with the same spectacularly disastrous results.

The founders wanted a form of government that allowed the voice of the people to be heard but without the cumbersome spectacle of a direct democracy. The republic seemed to be the perfect choice. The republic allowed for a representative democracy which freed the populace to their daily lives but did not leave them mute as to the functioning of their government.

James Madison elaborated on the differences between the two when he wrote:

Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever 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…

A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking.

The problem with a true democracy is simply a matter of participation. In a democracy each individual participates directly in the process. For example had the recent “stimulus” bill been proposed in a true democracy each of us would have had to have traveled to Washington, participated in the debate and subsequently voted. The outcome may have been more palatable but the process becomes unwieldy and inefficient when you think of the thousands of pieces of legislation that pass through the legislative process on local, state and federal levels.

With a republic the idea is that we elect representatives to act on our behalf and advocate for our beliefs. These representatives cast our votes by proxy and thereby eliminate the need for us to participate directly in the legislative process. We have only to participate effectively in the electoral process to ensure that we have leaders who accurately represent us.

The principles behind the concept are sound. Madison gave a concise definition of republic in the following quote:

We may define a republic to be … a government which derives all of its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior. It is essential to such a government that it be derived from the great body of society, not from an inconsiderable proportion or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans and claim for their government the honorable title of republic.

Therein lays the problems we are facing as a nation. The persons holding office are no longer accountable it seems. There is no “limited period” that they serve and indeed they seem to serve at “pleasure” but at the pleasure of whom.

The representatives in a republic are supposed to derive their powers from the great body of society. What our government has devolved into is a group of lobbyists for special interest minorities. The will of the greater body is subverted by the will of the affluent and ruling elite.

We are not a democracy, and thankfully so, as democracies are unstable and subject to mob rule. We are a republic. What has weakened our republic is the apathetic manner of its general populace. When the voters cease to be diligent in their duties, their responsibilities, then corruption is free to infect the process.

We must, as citizens, take back control of the process. We must hold leaders accountable or our republic will wither and die. It was through great personal sacrifice that this nation was created and only through personal sacrifice that it will remain the shinning example of freedom that it has become.

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