I had a poignant moment yesterday morning when I opened up my email and saw a note from an older friend. He wanted to share some thoughts with me after reading Tuesday’s post. As I read his words, I was taken back almost 30 years ago when my Dad shared those identical ideas with me. I had tucked Dad’s lecture somewhere in the back of my mind, but it somehow had become lost in the chaos of my life.
My dad was a history buff and critical thinker. He frequently analyzed the workings of the government as he strove to fulfill his personal responsibility as a United States citizen. As a child, I remember rolling my eyes when he would start a lecture — half paying attention and half wishing that I could remove myself from the pontification session. I now laugh as an adult because my own girls do much the same thing.
As I read my friend’s words yesterday, I could feel my dad smiling down. It was a great reminder to me that I should have paid closer attention to those childhood lectures —That I should have internalized them and taken them with me on my life journey. Today I share the words of the email with each of you. I hope that you will read them and take some time to critically think about the path of our government.
Perhaps we all need to analyze the first documents of our country so that we can properly reflect on how far we have strayed from our forefather’s plan. I can think of no greater thought to ponder on this
The very thoughtful personal comment from a Feed Yard Foodie reader:
I believe part of the reason we are in the pickle we’re in today is because we consider our nation a democracy, and don’t know how a republic differs from a democracy. By definition a democracy is “majority rule.” In a democracy individuals are represented (yes, it’s a “representative form of government”), but the purpose of that representation is to determine the will of the majority and force it on the minority. But we are not a democracy by design or Constitution. We were intended to be a republic. We are supposed to be a Constitutional Republic, not a constitutional democracy.
If you are fortunate enough to read what our founders wrote personally about the formulation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, you’ll find that they didn’t think of our country as a democracy. A democracy, by its very nature, has no need for “checks and balances” or a Bill of Rights – it’s only responsibility is to determine majority will and enforce it. Our constitution, however, was written by men who knew democracies had this weakness, and gave us something better. They chose instead to create a republic.
In a republic the sole function of government is to protect the God-given rights of every individual from majority rule. Our founders were all students of history and knew the kinds of government they did NOT want. They had seen them at work for centuries – kings, tsars, military conquerors, despots and tyrants, and the excesses of the French Revolution in the name of “equality” (the leaders of the French Revolution eventually were beheading people to force them to be free…). This was happening at very nearly the same time our Constitution was being written. ALL of our framing documents have the character of fencing in the potential for human abuse of power. They were written to be preventative, placing limits and accountability between the branches of government (and even between the two houses of Congress). What a huge difference from a democracy!
I’m convinced that this idea of a republic is “lost knowledge” today. It hasn’t been taught in our schools for generations. The media never refer to our form of government as anything other than a democracy. Democracies are a form of organized mob rule. Mobs are usually fired up by power-hungry bullies, and this is a flaw in democracy that can be exploited. Democracies always gravitate to enforcing the will of bullies instead of the will of the majority. Bullies who understand this (and they do) deliberately convince their followers that they are headed for the utopia of democracy, but their secret agenda and end game is a dictatorship. Lenin, Stalin, Castro and Chairman Mao all understood this. Their takeovers were always peddled to the masses as a “people’s movement” resulting in a “People’s Republic”, when in fact they all were just plain old power-hungry dictators and despots operating behind the thinnest of pretenses. Surely their governments were republics in name only.
Once a populace buys into thinking of their form of government as a democracy (and has forgotten what a republic is or that they were one once), all sorts of crises arise. For instance, there’s gridlock in Congress – a war between groups who each claim to represent the majority. Rejection of any being higher in authority than the government, who bestows rights on individuals that are supposed to be impervious to majority rule and government tinkering. There’s frustration among those who ascribe to long-held standards of family, marriage, stewardship – because democracy, which is all they know, seems to be unable to deal with it. (Of course, it IS unable to deal with it – democracy is inherently a denial of any authority higher than majority rule.) All the intrusive regulations and the agencies that promulgate them are products of a government that thinks its role is to enforce someone’s rules on everyone, rather than to protect individuals from the very same thing. Each crisis presents a new opportunity for assumption of more power, and makes the majority more and more ready to accept a political savior at any cost. This is how Hitler (the ultimate power-hungry bully) came to power in Germany.
I believe the loss of this understanding lies at the root of all of our current problems. It has been erased from our national conscience over at least three generations. We are simply experiencing the unavoidable consequences of tossing out the Republic to gain a democracy. Our leadership (yes, both Republicans and Democrats) should have been leading us back to a republic for decades, but instead have relentlessly been leading us to democracy. Many wonder, “Why is my government so broken? After all, it’s a democracy!” It certainly is, and that’s why it’s so broken.
A very thought provoking comment as well as a reminder to me to always step back and look at the historical big picture when evaluating a challenging circumstance.