“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” George Washington
“Tyranny naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty… The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness.” Plato, 400 B.C., The Republic,VII
“Hence it is that such 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.” James Madison
The “will of the People”.
The fallacy in using the terms ‘democracy’ and the “will of the people’ in this country and within the framework of the constitution drafted and passed for the existence of the present government, is that first; our constitution did not establish a democratic form of government. This country was not designed to be a democracy. Democracy being defined as “majority rule”. With the exception of elections where the people choose those individuals to fill selected offices in government, this is where the “majority rule” doctrine ends.
Second, the “will of the people” along with the democratic election process has no other place in this country which is ruled by the Constitution. The will of the people was expressed when the Constitution was adopted by the thirteen colonies. These colonies were independent nations after the revolution which desolved the relationship and control of England. As expressed in the preamble to the Constitution;
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
In referring to this principle Supreme Court Justice Field expanded the meaning in his opinion in Butchers’ Union Co. vs. Crescent City Co., [111 U.S. 746, at 757]
“As in our intercourse with our fellow-men certain principles of morality are assumed to exist, without which society would be impossible, so certain inherent rights lie at the foundation of all actions, and upon a recognition of them alone can free institutions be maintained. These inherent rights have never been more happily expressed than in the Declaration of Independence, that new evangel of liberty to the people: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident’ — that is so plain that their truth is recognized upon mere statement — ‘that all men are endowed’ — not by edicts of Emperors, or decrees of Parliament, or acts of Congress, but ‘by their Creator with certain inalienable rights’ — that is, rights which cannot be bartered away, or given away, or taken away except in punishment of crime — ‘and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to secure these’ — not grant them but secure them — ‘governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’”
“A republic is a form of government under a constitution which provides for the election of (1) an executive and (2) a legislative body, who working together in a representative capacity, have all power of appointment, all power of legislation, all power to raise revenues and appropriate expenditures, and are required to create (3) a judiciary to pass upon the justice and legalit of their governmental acts and to recognize (4) certain inherent individual rights.” Harry Atwood, Back To The Republic
As I can vision the difference between a “democracy” and a “republic” based upon these two observations, a “republic” recognizes the existence of individual rights while a “democracy” is founded upon the “will of the people”. The Supreme Court has recognized these rights as foremost in importance and protected by the “law of the land”. That “law of the land” being the common law. That the governments have powers to do certain activities is given, however, as Supreme Court Justice O’conner observed in her opinion; “Congress exercises its conferred powers subject to the limitations contained in the Constitution. Thus, for example, under the Commerce Clause, Congress may regulate publishers engaged in interstate commerce, but Congress is constrained in the exercise of that power by the First Amendment.” [New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144, 156 (1992)]
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REPUBLIC vs. DEMOCRACY (www.1215.org/lawnotes/lawnotes/repvsdem.htm)
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
In the Pledge of Allegiance we all pledge allegiance to our Republic, not to a democracy. “Republic” is the proper description of our government, not “democracy.” I invite you to join me in raising public awareness regarding that distinction.
The distinction between our Republic and a democracy is not an idle one. It has great legal significance.
The Constitution guarantees to every state a Republican form of government (Art. 4, Sec. 4). No state may join the United States unless it is a Republic. Our Republic is one dedicated to “liberty and justice for all.” Minority individual rights are the priority. The people have natural rights instead of civil rights. The people are protected by the Bill of Rights from the majority. One vote in a jury can stop all of the majority from depriving any one of the people of his rights; this would not be so if the United States were a democracy. (see People’s rights vs Citizens’ rights)
In a pure democracy 51 beats 49[%]. In a democracy there is no such thing as a significant minority: there are no minority rights except civil rights (privileges) granted by a condescending majority. Only five of the U.S. Constitution’s first ten amendments apply to Citizens of the United States. Simply stated, a democracy is a dictatorship of the majority. Socrates was executed by a democracy: though he harmed no one, the majority found him intolerable.
SOME DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS
Government. ….the government is but an agency of the state, distinguished as it must be in accurate thought from its scheme and machinery of government. ….In a colloquial sense, the United States or its representatives, considered as the prosecutor in a criminal action; as in the phrase, “the government objects to the witness.” [Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, p. 625]
Government; Republican government. One in which the powers of sovereignty are vested in the people and are exercised by the people, either directly, or through representatives chosen by the people, to whome those powers are specially delegated. In re Duncan, 139 U.S. 449, 11 S.Ct. 573, 35 L.Ed. 219; Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. (21 Wall.) 162, 22 L.Ed. 627. [Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, p. 626]
Democracy. That form of government in which the sovereign power resides in and is exercised by the whole body of free citizens directly or indirectly through a system of representation, as distinguished from a monarchy, aristocracy, or oligarchy. Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, pp. 388-389.
Note: Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, can be found in any law library and most law offices.
Notice that in a Democracy, the sovereignty is in the whole body of the free citizens. The sovereignty is not divided to smaller units such as individual citizens. To solve a problem, only the whole body politic is authorized to act. Also, being citizens, individuals have duties and obligations to the government. The government’s only obligations to the citizens are those legislatively pre-defined for it by the whole body politic.
In a Republic, the sovereignty resides in the people themselves, whether one or many. In a Republic, one may act on his own or through his representatives as he chooses to solve a problem. Further, the people have no obligation to the government; instead, the government being hired by the people, is obliged to its owner, the people.
The people own the government agencies. The government agencies own the citizens. In the United States we have a three-tiered cast system consisting of people —> government agencies —> and citizens.
The people did “ordain and establish this Constitution,” not for themselves, but “for the United States of America.” In delegating powers to the government agencies the people gave up none of their own. (See Preamble of U.S. Constitution). This adoption of this concept is why the U.S. has been called the “Great Experiment in self government.” The People govern themselves, while their agents (government agencies) perform tasks listed in the Preamble for the benefit of the People. The experiment is to answer the question, “Can self-governing people coexist and prevail over government agencies that have no authority over the People?”
The citizens of the United States are totally subject to the laws of the United States (See 14th Amendment of U.S. Constitution). NOTE: U.S. citizenship did not exist until July 28, 1868. Actually, the United States is a mixture of the two systems of government (Republican under Common Law, and democratic under statutory law). The People enjoy their God-given natural rights in the Republic. In a democracy, the Citizens enjoy only government granted privileges (also known as civil rights).
There was a great political division between two major philosophers, Hobbes and Locke. Hobbes was on the side of government. He believed that sovereignty was vested in the state. Locke was on the side of the People. He believed that the fountain of sovereignty was the People of the state. Statists prefer Hobbes. Populists choose Locke. In California, the Government Code sides with Locke. Sections 11120 and 54950 both say, “The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them.” The preambles of the U.S. and California Constitutions also affirm the choice of Locke by the People.
It is my hope that the U.S. will always remain a Republic, because I value individual freedom.
Thomas Jefferson said that liberty and ignorance cannot coexist. Will you help to preserve minority rights by fulfilling the promise in the Pledge of Allegiance to support the Republic? Will you help by raising public awareness of the difference between the Republic and a democracy?
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Other essays on a Republican form of government: