Jewish World Review Oct. 5, 2012/ 19 Tishrei, 5773
America is Not a Democracy
By Greg Crosby
Most of us grew up believing that America was a pure Democracy. Our country has always been described to us as a Democracy in our school textbooks, educational programs, on TV, in movies, and in the news media. Even our politicians speak of "our democracy," by which they mean American Democracy. The fact is we are a Republic. There is a very good reason that our Pledge of Allegiance refers to our country as a Republic and there is a very good reason that our Declaration of Independence and our constitution do not even mention the word "democracy."
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under G0d, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
The Founding Fathers instituted a form of government guided by the rule of law rather than the desires of a majority of voters. They understood that a Democracy is always in flux and given to "mob rule," while a Republic is fixed and stable, resting on "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's G0d." Because of the uncertainty of democracy, Benjamin Rush - a signer of the Declaration of Independence - wrote: "A simple democracy is one of the greatest of evils."
The "evils" Rush understood in Democracy are evident when we compare the basis for rights in a Democracy with the basis for rights in a Republic. In a Democracy, rights ultimately flow from the majority, and every right - from keeping and bearing arms to possessing private property - is recallable if the party in the majority so decides. In a pure democracy, 51% beats 49%. In other words, the minority has no rights. The minority only has those privileges granted by the dictatorship of the majority.
In the constitutional Republic that our Founders intended America to be, rights are seen as coming from God and because of this, are unassailable by government (regardless of which party is in the majority). In the Declaration of Independence these unassailable rights were described as "unalienable" and were clearly presented as rights over which the government has no say. God's rights cannot be taken away by man.
The men who founded America knew that government could never be trusted to "do the right thing" and people need to be protected from their own government going too far. Furthermore, a Republic and a Democracy are identical in every aspect except one. In a Republic the sovereignty is in each individual person. In a Democracy the sovereignty is in the group.
Many think that a pure Democracy is the fairest way to make laws and procedures to govern people. Nothing could be further from the truth. If the majority has evil or self-serving intentions, then the minority will suffer under the rules and regulations of the majority. Think about the United Nations. Many of the nations in the UN are not freedom-loving or pro-Western and yet they have an equal vote along with free nations. In the case of the Middle East, Israel is the ONLY nation in that region that honors freedom and liberty. In any Democratic vote of all Middle Eastern countries, Israel will lose every time.
The Palestinian people in Gaza held a democratic election and they put Hamas leadership into power. Hamas wants to destroy Israel. Following the so-called "Arab Spring," Egypt held democratic elections that put The Muslim Brotherhood into power. The Muslim Brotherhood has historically been anti-Israel. Egyptian President Morsi has said, "Resistance is the correct and only way to free the land from the filth of the Jews." Democracy put that man in office.
Benjamin Franklin described it this way: "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."
Unfortunately, America today has drifted far from the Constitutional Republic our forefathers established. References to America as a Democracy represent a clear intent by some to move America further away from the rule of law and closer to the rule of the majority. "Majority rule" has never been an American tenet.
America is the land of self-reliance, not collectivism. American Exceptionalism stems from the hard work, inventiveness, and entrepreneurial spirit of individual Americans, not the government. If we lose sight of that then the specialness that is America will be forever lost. We might as well be Norway or Spain. America was never meant to be a Democracy.
To paraphrase another quote by Ben Franklin, "We are a Republic, if we can keep it."
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© 2008, Greg Crosby