The notion that democracy equals freedom has become wide-spread in the Western world, but, unfortunately for the cause of individual rights and liberty, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, democracy is the negation of individual rights and liberty. I explain why in my post, Democracy: the Tyranny of the Masses. This is why our founding fathers rejected democracy when they devised our system of government, choosing instead to make the United States into a republic. If we are to have any hope of regaining and preserving the principles and ideals of our founding, the principles and ideals upon which liberty must be established if it is to survive and flourish, we – as a people – must re-learn the difference between a republic and a democracy.
We’ll start by looking at the definition of a democracy:
1a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
2: a political unit that has a democratic government
4: the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority
At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be much of a difference between a democracy and a representative republic, but there is a big difference. Sadly, too few Americans have been taught enough about our language and the basics of critical thinking to notice it. This is not necessarily a condemnation of the individual, but rather, of our school system and our political leadership.
If you will allow me to do so, I will explain how and why a democracy is vastly different from a republic. But first, we must look at the definition of a republic:
1a (1) : a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president (2) : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government
b (1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law (2) : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government
c : a usually specified republican government of a political unit <the French Fourth Republic>
2: a body of persons freely engaged in a specified activity <the republic of letters>
Now, assuming you have read all of the posts under the heading at the top of this blog, Natural Law, let’s look at the differences between a democracy and a republic, paying careful attention to distinguish which is designed according to Natural Law and which is designed to circumvent it.
First, notice how a democracy includes the whole body of “the people,” while a republic includes only citizens. This is a crucial distinction as anyone can be part of “the people,” which is nothing more than all of the individuals living within a certain geographical region. But only those who have willingly agreed to and are entitled to the protections of the Social Contract which created and governs a specific community are citizens. What’s more, as long as it does not violate the constraints of Natural Law, it is possible to willingly agree to a Social Contract under which the terms restrict the civil right to vote. In other words, a Social Contract can be in agreement with Natural Law while denying people who have willingly agreed to be Party to it the privilege of voting. However, in a democracy, everyone is entitled to vote – even those who have joined the community illegally, or who have joined it while fully intending to destroy it for their own purposes. Thus, so long as their Social Contract does not violate the constraints of Natural Law, the citizens of a republic are operate in agreement with Natural Law, while “the people” in a democracy routinely violate Natural Law by voting to impose the will of the majority upon the will of the minority.
In fact, it is possible to construct a system of laws to govern a republic that can provide equal protection of individual rights and liberty for every citizen subject to the Social Contract which created that republic where there is never an election of representatives at all. Just as an example, imagine what this nation would be like if, rather than allowing elections, our founders had designed the Constitution such that State Senators, Congressional Representatives and the President were all changed at the same appointed intervals, but by a State and Nation-wide drawing of lots. So long as this Constitution made provision for exempting those individuals honestly incapable of performing the necessary duties, it could be argued that this would be a far superior system to the one our founders actually designed as the whole community — Regional, State and National – would have a vested interest in providing an equal and proper education, as well as attending to the development of individual moral character of every one of its citizens. Whereas, the only interest the “people” have in a democracy is in forming the largest possible alliance so as to force their collective will upon that of those individuals who may happen to disagree with them.
Historically, democracies never last long, and usually end in violence and with great bloodshed. Conversely, as the citizens of a republic become spoiled by their own affluence and start to lose their morality, history shows that their republic often decays to the point where it becomes too weak to defend itself and, usually, it is taken over from within by a person who eventually appoints themselves as dictator. This is why it is absolutely vital that those who would preserve individual rights and liberty understand the difference between a democracy and a republic.