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Chapter 29: Democracy or Republic?

August 28, 2012

“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” —James Bovard


What’s wrong with democracy

  • Pure democracy doesn’t work—and never has. One of the biggest mistakes this country has made is to promote the idea of democracy to the rest of the world. Nations that opt for democracy without granting and protecting individual freedoms are doomed to chaos and eventual failure.
  • Mob rule vs. individual rights. Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, so we’re darned lucky that’s not what this nation’s founders gave us. They instead gave us a constitutional republic that grants individual liberty to its citizens and pledges the nation to defend those liberties above all else. They wisely warned, “If you can keep it.” It’s ours to preserve and protect—or to lose.
  • Government rulers vs. individual liberty. The founders knew that the greatest threats to individual liberty would come from the government itself, so they also carefully limited the power and scope of the federal government. It is important to remember that equal opportunity for all does not mean equal results for all. Freedom means every individual is free to succeed…as well as being free to fail.
  • We’re forfeiting our heritage. Unfortunately these lessons have been lost on future generations. Our government promotes democracy to the rest of the world. And the commerce clause of the Constitution has been used as an excuse for the federal government to get involved in all facets of American life—at great harm to the nation and its future.

How to fix our Democratic Republic

  • Educate our citizens. Our own citizens—including our political leaders and teachers—need a better understanding of the important differences between pure democracies and constitutional republics, as well as the dangers of mob rule and oppressive governments. If we are too lazy to pay attention, America’s decline and eventual collapse are inevitable. (See also the “Education,” “Government,” and “Freedom” chapters.)
  • Promote liberty worldwide. The United States must promote the importance of individual liberty and equal opportunity—not just democracy or equal outcomes—to the rest of the world. The best influence we could have on other countries would be to set a good example here at home. (See the “Religion” chapter for comments about the importance of separation of church and state.)
  • Limit government power. Restrict the federal government to the roles specified in the Constitution. Return everything else to the people, and allow them to decide which other functions should be performed by their local and state governments. With strict limits on the role of government, there will be less money for politicians to give away and fewer favors that can be granted to cronies or denied to the enemies of cronies. (See the “Government” chapter for more about the importance of limiting the role of government.)
  • Election reform. Only individuals should be allowed to make campaign contributions to politicians. Campaign contributions by special interest groups should not be permitted. (Also see the “Election Reform” chapter.)
  • Rein in career politicians. Capping pay and eliminating pensions for elected officials, as well as limiting their power, would help rein in the career politicians. (Also see the “Career Politicians” chapter.)

“The framers held democracy and majority rule in deep contempt. As a matter of fact, the term democracy appears in none of our founding documents. James Madison argued that ‘measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.’ John Adams said: ‘Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.’—American columnist Walter Williams

  1. Mike Ruddell permalink

    The two words that best sum up the mess we are in is “career politicians.” The question is, how do we get them to vote themselves out of a “career” and go back to the idea of a “citizen” serves and then goes back to his job in his community, which is not Washington D.C.?


  2. Tim Brown permalink

    I agree with most of your thoughts and intent. As we approach this fiscal cliff, if there is to be any sort of Grand Deal that seeks cuts in Entitlements, Congress should lead the way and offer up their outrageous pension and benefits packages before one $1 dollar is cut from social security or medicaid. Not only have they created all of this mess we are in through their legislative malfeasance but they have not suffered for it either. There is no performance or incentive package that focuses their efforts on making laws that work in the interest of all Americans.

    America is at Her best when people of all drives, capabilities, and intelligence’s are able to secure sustainable employment that allows each person the ability to support their families, communities, and our nation by paying taxes. It is government’s role to provide landscape that makes this possible.

    The principle problem is that Our legislators are now the wealthy 1% and naturally rule for the benefit of their personal portfolios and thereby their wealthy peers, instead of the masses. You’ve outlined a number of solid opinions that can work in realigning Congressional focus toward bringing back manufacturing and industrial jobs that allow for people of all drives, capabilities, and intelligence’s to become proud, tax paying citizens once again. They need to shut down and reverse the policies that allowed companies to move operations overseas, and hide revenue made there in off-shore tax shelters. Opportunity Costs should be factored into legislative decision making that recognizes the total costs of past policy that has broken families and destroyed towns. Preference should always be given to Americans first in any subsequent legislation.

    And since Congress has made it possible for companies that are struggling to “reorganize” and seize the pensions of their employees, it seems only logical they put skin in the same game and lead by example. In fact, we should demand it of them because history shows us they aren’t very reflective or accountable about their role in the last 30 years of bad leadership.


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  1. Action Plan to Save America « Fixing America's Broken Politics
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