By Steve vanHorn
A SIMPLE ILLUSTRATION
Five people are sitting in a room. Three are men. One of them proposes a new law making it legal to for a man to rape a woman (under certain circumstances of course). The three men vote yea. What happens next is “democracy” in action.
A SIMPLE DEFINITION
Pure “democracy” is rule by majority. In effect, it is mob rule.
How many times do you hear elected officials referring to “our democratic form of government” or accusing someone of acting in a way that is “not democratic”. These seemingly innocuous statements are actually quite troubling if you know what “democracy” really is. To put it simply, “democracy” is mob rule. When a lynching occurs, the democratic majority is just exercising its will upon the democratic minority. The trick to surviving in a “democracy” is to always agree with the majority.
I wonder whether most Americans are fully aware of the form of government our Constitution guarantees. Unfortunately, I know too many Americans do not understand the difference between a “republican form of government” and a “democracy”. This makes me very worried for the future of my Country. Let me put it this way: if WE THE PEOPLE do not understand what the Constitution guarantees, what is the guarantee worth?
Current definitions of “democracy” in dictionaries and school textbooks do not distinguish it from a “republican form of government”. While a republic can be correctly defined as a “representative democracy”, plain old “democracy” is NOT just another word for republic. Most current dictionaries give the first definition of “Democracy” as a “government exercised either directly by the people or through elected representatives.” The “rule by the majority” definition usually shows up as the forth or fifth definition, if it’s listed at all.
I wonder why these contradicting definitions have become accepted. Could it be due to confusion over what “democracy” truly is? Why have we strayed so far from an understanding that all governments fall into one of three different forms: autocratic, republic, and democratic. The founding fathers knew the difference well. They viewed “democracy” as an extreme form of government that had been tried (e.g. Greece, France, etc.) but had always failed. The republic they envisioned and created was intended to be a government that functioned at the “Golden Mean” between rule by a tyrant and rule by the mob. Somehow we have lost our understanding of this fundamental truth. Somehow we forgot what all of human history shows to be the result when either extreme is implemented.
Certainly there is no confusion about autocracy or monarchy or anarchy yet “democracy”, is the word most applied to our republican system of government. I would like to change this. I would like to reapply the word that best describes our system of government. I want to hear elected officials referring to “our republican form of government”. I want Citizens to understand the difference between “our republican form of government” and a “democracy”.
You have to go back a ways but the distinction was clearly made even as late as 1929. The Army Training Manual of 1929 (PM 2000-25) contains the following definitions under the title of Citizenship:
Democracy: A government of the masses, authority derived through mass meetings or any other form of direct expression; results in mobocracy; attitude toward property is communistic negating property rights; attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate whether it is based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences; its result is dem-o-gogism, license, agitation, discontent and anarchy.
Republic: Authority is derived through the election by the people of public officials best suited to represent them. Attitude toward property is respect for laws and individual rights and a sensible economic procedure. Attitude toward law is the administration of justice in accord with fixed principles that establish evidence with a strict regard for consequences. A greater number of citizens and extent of territory may be brought within its compass, it avoids the dangerous extremes of either tyranny or mobocracy. Results in statesmanship, liberty, reason, justice contentment and progress, is a standard for government around the world.
I end this very serious topic with a few quotes that strike me as funny yet get at the truth of what “democracy” really is:
“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H. L. Mencken
“Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.”
– George Bernard Shaw
“The majority is never right. Never, I tell you! That’s one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent man can ever help rebelling against. Who are the people that make up the biggest proportion of the population — the intelligent ones or the fools? I think we can agree it’s the fools, no matter where you go in this world, it’s the fools that form the overwhelming majority.” – Henrik Ibsen
TAB Editor Comment; I’ll bet you that if you ask 10 young people what’s a Republic …that you’ll to good to 1 out of 10 to answer correctly. Politicians can’t say the word, it’s not taught in school. Maybe it’s time to revive it.