A Republican Form of Government

Democracy - Two Wolves and a SheepA couple of months ago, I had the TV on watching coverage of the primaries and caucuses that were occurring that day. After the Minnesota primary was essentially over, Ron Paul gave a speech (skip to about 7:06 in this video) where he said something utterly astonishing for a politician, “… those laws have to be repealed if we want to live in a true republic.” I about stood up in amazement. A republic? If we are to believe just about every other politician out there (i.e. big government politician), we live in a democracy. Otherwise, why are our troops being sent to kill and die “to make the world safe for democracy” or to “spread democracy”? Seriously, when was the last time you heard any politician (besides Ron Paul, Rand Paul, or any self-proclaimed libertarian) say anything about a republic? Democracy, democracy, democracy is all we ever hear. And it is usually combined with the tragic misapplication of the word “freedom”.

Are you ready for something truly astounding? The word democracy is NOT in the United States Constitution. Nor is it in the Declaration of Independence, just to cover that document too. The only mention of any form of government in the Constitution is in Article IV Section 4, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government …” Why is this so important?

To be accurate, the government of the United States, as defined by the Constitution, is a “constitutional republic,” or to be more accurate, a “constitutionally limited republic”. This means that the power of government is to be limited to the scope defined to it in the constitution. At least, that is what was intended. The practical nature of the federal government today is far from limited, but that only makes my point. The key difference between a constitutional republic and a democracy is that in a democracy, the majority rules. In other words, might makes right. Or to put it another way, mob rules. Rights are not protected nor guaranteed because the power of government is not bound. Whatever decision comes up to a vote, the side with the most votes (i.e. the side with the most power and influence) wins regardless of how that infringes upon the rights of the minority. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like a free society to me. So why do big government politicians spout the word democracy as if it is synonymous with freedom? Maybe it’s because they don’t know any better. Or maybe it’s because that’s what they want you to think.

The problem with embracing the idea of democracy as a form of government is that it creates an “us vs. them” mentality. In order to get my way, I must stop someone else from getting their way. Every decision comes down to yes or no. Right or wrong. Winner takes all. There is no room for coexistence or cooperation. However, in a truly free society, most decisions are left up to individuals. Free people can make their own choices for their own lives, as long as those decisions don’t infringe on others. Free people are free to coexist and cooperate. It is a win/win mentality as compared to the win/lose of a democracy.

In a government that has unlimited powers, it is in the politicians’ best interest to create a win/lose mentality. It boosts their importance because their votes hold power over people’s lives. It creates job security to stir up controversy and bring up issues to vote for because it attracts money and power. In a truly free society, politicians are of very little consequence. Their sphere of influence is very limited so they do not attract much thought. But in a system where the government has excessive influence over people’s lives, politicians hold the keys to the kingdom. And they know that the people and organizations with money and power will want to influence their votes. By trumpeting the idea that our country is a democracy and all things should be decided by what the majority believes, the big government politicians have managed to subvert our constitutionally limited republic into a government of virtually unlimited power. A government where a small group of individuals have enormous power and influence. A government where these same set of individuals are the ones who define the pubic discourse of the day. It’s like the fox guarding the hen house. Or, as the graphic says, two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

So the next time you hear a big government politician talking about democracy, remember, they think of themselves as one of the wolves and they are looking at you as either the other wolf or the sheep. The question is, do you see yourself as a wolf, a sheep … or a free person?