Thursday, April 4, 2013

Is America A Democracy?

There is a famous story, that when Benjamin Franklin was walking out of the Constitutional Convention after it had ended, a woman called out to him “What did you give us, a republic, or a democracy?”
“A republic, if you can keep it.”
In America we began as a republic. But what is a democracy? Is it not another word for republic? Well, it seems that the founding fathers did not agree on that score.

“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 elected by the rest… Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose.”1

That is to say, in a democracy, the people rule, while in a republic, the representatives rule with the consent of the people. If they rule poorly, then out they go, and again join the voting class.
The difference between a Democratic-Constitutional-Republic and a pure Democracy is that the law is above the people in the one, and the people are the law in the other. There is little protection for the minority is such a situation. If 51 percent want something, 49 percent can do nothing about it. Thus we have a tyranny of the mob, which is a dreadful prospect. Tyranny of the majority will lead in the end to tyranny of the one, because from the civil war will come a savior of the people.
Pure democracy is not a good idea. It is a bad one. In such a case, what 51 out of every hundred men and women want is law. If the will of the people is one day to kill all six year olds than under pure democracy we must do that. Any higher law than the people is under pure democracy a terrible and unjust thing, for it stifles personal liberty. I might mention as a case of democracy Paris, at the time of the French Revolution. If pure democracy is 51 percent, than why not a 51 percent police force? It “cuts out the middle man” as it were, and makes more certain that the will of the people will be obeyed. We are not yet a democracy, thank God; we are a republic, can we keep it? That is for you to decide.

Through His Strength We Will Conquer,
Andrew C. Abbott

1: Madison, 1787.

1 comment:

  1. Exactly. Tyranny of the mob.

    Debaucracy. Rule by the debauched.