Mr. President: We Are a Republic, Not a Democracy!
Did you read President Bush’s speech of November 6 in which he challenged Middle Eastern nations to take greater steps toward “democracy” for the benefit of people everywhere who deserve to be free? He said, “it is the practice of democracy that makes a nation ready for democracy, and every nation can start on this path.” Bush added that he believes every person has the ability and the right to be free, and that the “freedom deficit [in the Middle East] undermines human development and is one of the most painful manifestations of lagging political development.”
There’s only one small problem with Bush’s assessment. America itself is not a democracy. Had I an audience with the president, I would ask him a few questions.
Where, Mr. President, in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or any of the state constitutions does the word “democracy” appear? Nary a one. When you pledge allegiance to the flag, Mr. President, do you ever say, “…and to the democracy for which it stands”? You say, “…and to the republic.” Mr. President, may I share with you a truth my homeschooled sons learned in the third grade? The Founders of our great nation never intended America to be a democracy. They wanted a republic from the outset. Article IV, Section 4, of the Constitution says, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”
The difference between a democracy and a republic is nothing to sneeze at, either, Mr. President. A democracy is a place where the majority rules. A republic is a government that establishes the rule of law under God. Our Founders were gravely concerned with protecting individual rights and property rights from tyranny. They knew that the people had to be protected from overreaching federal power. They instituted a representative form of government that would be restrained by the Bill of Rights and divided into three power-sharing branches that would balance the competing interests of the people. In short, they were concerned with liberty more than democracy.
One wonders about Bush’s capabilities as president when all through his speech he referred to our nation as a democracy. It has never been a democracy. It was never intended to be a democracy. It has always been a republic.
In his speech Bush did get one thing right, however. He stated that “… some governments still cling to the old habits of central control. There are governments that still fear and repress independent thought and creativity and private enterprise—the human qualities that make for strong and successful societies.”
Funny how familiar that sounds in the good old U.S. of A.!
November 10, 2003
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. He is currently finishing his latest book, Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon.