In response to my recent column, the Editorial Board of the Post Register and several others have once again attempted to mislead the public into believing that our system of government is a democracy. The Editorial Board asserts, “we are both a republic and a democracy.” The Editorial Board unwittingly has proved Thomas Jefferson’s assertion: The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.
According to Merriam-Webster, a democracy is defined as “government by the people; especially: rule of the majority,” whereas a republic is defined as “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.” Which of these two definitions more accurately describes our country? The Editorial Board would have you believe a republic involves hereditary rulers, such as a House of Lords. Nonsense. And a democracy, not a republic, is more likely to result in a monarchy. The primary concern of the Founding Fathers was to not replicate the government which they just rebelled from, which is why they chose a republic.
Rather than recite what I learned in my high school civics class (which I did attend), I will let our Founding Fathers explain why it is important to remain a republic:
Alexander Hamilton: “We are now forming a republican government. Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments. . . . But if we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy.” Comments at Constitutional Convention, June 26, 1787, as reported by Robert Yates.
John Adams: “Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet, that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true in fact and nowhere appears in history.” Letter to John Taylor, dated December 17, 1814.
James Madison: “A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole [think Medicaid expansion]; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” Federalist Papers, No. 10.
Benjamin Franklin: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!” (Source unknown, but traditionally attributed to Benjamin Franklin).
If declaring we are a republic constitutes “contempt for democracy,” then I will choose to stand with our Founding Fathers.