Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Democracy or Constitutional Republic?

Before we venture off into uncharted territories, I think it wise that we establish a better understanding of our form of government. It will be the basis for all future discussions and will provide a firm foundation for understanding.

Of critical importance is to differentiate how we use the word “Democracy.” The word is of Greek origin meaning the “rule of the commoners.” There is Democracy in terms of free and fair elections by the people to choose their governmental body. Many countries of the world still rely heavily on monarchies or oligarchies. So, the United States of America, in this sense, is in fact a democracy.

Then there is Democracy in terms of the “rule of the majority,” often called direct democracy. The people choose their leaders directly. They vote on or form consensus on a variety of matters or initiatives. A direct democracy favors the majority, without safeguards for the individual or the minority. It is this definition that causes confusion.

There is also a representative democracy, that is founded on the basis of elected officials acting on behalf of the larger population. This method allows for accountability of these officials as they perform their duties, through the election process. You perform poorly and you are out! However, this form of government can also be manipulated.

Of major concern to the framers was averting overreach from the government. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Notes on the State of Virginia, “An ELECTIVE DESPOTISM was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.”

The United States of America became a constitutional republic, with the inclusion adoption of this definition in Article IV, Section 4: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion…”

Our government is a limited government of the representative type. It's powers are granted by the Constitution, which was adopted by the people and can be changed by amendment. It's powers are separated into three distinct branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial.

The people is us. The electorate. We as a Republic, under our written Constitution, provide needed safeguards for the individual and the minority. A representation for all of us, not just the majority, and not just the elite. It is as it should be.







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