Tuesday, January 20, 2009

American Form of Government

On the one hand I was very encouraged by the dignified transfer of power that occurred today with the inauguration of Barack Obama. On the other hand I was struck by how many times the word "democracy" was used. I think we all need to be refreshed with a helpful video that reminds us that we were not intended to be a democracy at all. Further, democracy is a transition to something else.

We are most certainly in such a transition.

HT: Kevin


Frontier Forest said...

Very scary, but most enlightening! God save our nation! I must confess, I never knew the difference between a Republic and a Democracy. But I do remember this, “And to our Republic, for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for ALL!”

Rick Calohan said...

Thank you Tony and Kevin for posting this video any chance you can send this to all the Public School Social Studies Departments that have failed 90% of their students in this country?

Jim said...

What a tired canard. "Re-public" refers to "of the public."

In The Federalist #39, James Madison expressly defines what a republic is: "we may define a republic to be . . . a government which derives al its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people."

Secondly, in The Federalist #10, Madison does distinguish a PURE democracy from a "republic," this way:

"A repubilc, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from PURE democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and teh efficacy which it must derive from the union.

"The two great points of difference, between a democracy and a republic, are, first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens electd by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, adn greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended" (emphasis added).

The quotations in the clip regarding "democracy" refer to "pure democracy" a.k.a. to plebiscitary democracy (mainly drawn from examples of the ancient Greek city states, and the Italian city states of the Middle Ages).

Third, today, when people say "democracy" they almost never mean "pure democracy"; they mean representative democracy. It is simply a red herring to take the modern use of "democracy" and limit its meaning to "pure democracy" when one knows that no modern person uses it that way.

Fourth, the Declaration of Independence uses neither the word "democracy" it also doesn't use the word "republic." But it does say this:

"That to secure these rights, governmetns are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the CONSENT of the governed,-that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right OF THE PEOPLE to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principels and organizing its pwoers in such form, AS TO THEM shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness" (emphasis added).

Finally, you write, "We are most certainly in such a transition."

In point of fact, the problem with our "republic" is that it has less and less dependence on the people, from overweaning bureaucracies to activist, countermajoritarian courts (think abortion, gay marriage, prayer in school, etc. -- all brought to you not by democracratic decision making, but by a handful of judges).

Reepicheep said...

Always an interesting perspective Jim. Thanks.

The activist judge situation is certainly part of the transition we are seeing.

Frontier Forest said...

Wow, way above my pee brain!