From Zack Strong at the Independent American Party website:
“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” – John Adams to John Taylor, April 15, 1814
The United States of America is a constitutional republic. Or perhaps I should say, that is what we were founded as. Our Union was not, as is regularly claimed, set up as a democracy. Democracy is a contemptible system which spurns individual rights and operates on the basis of coercion. Opposed to democracy is republicanism which safeguards individual Liberty by written law. This article will explain why democracy is inherently flawed. I will also use the words of our Founding Fathers to explain how the republican system they established was meant to operate.
When you really research our Founders and peruse their voluminous writings, you realize that the overwhelming majority of their references to democracy were derogatory and negative. Our Founders were careful enough students of history to know that no democracy has ever been successful in carrying out the purpose of government – namely, to secure individual rights. They understood that no democracy has ever remained peaceful long but quickly degenerated into war. They knew that no democracy has ever lasted long and that all had eventually suffered under massive corruption, war, and faction which inevitably resulted in tyranny. Indeed, no democracy can ever work because it is based on inherently flawed ideas and inherently disregards the notion that rights are “sacred and undeniable,” to borrow a phrase from Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence. Our wise Founders understood this perfectly.
Democracy is one of the absolute worst forms or government, if not the very worst. Many of our Founders found fewer desirable qualities in democracy than in monarchy which they so despised. Democracy is nothing more than mobocracy. In a democracy, 51% of the people dictates policy and the minority has zero protection from their whims. Your rights can be arbitrarily voted away in a democracy and are only secure so long as the majority believes in them. The second a 51% majority decides that you don’t have certain rights, those rights are revoked. Faction and civil war often occur in democracies because the people realize that it is a winner take all system. A cunning despot loves democracy because it is relatively easy to bamboozle the public with flattering words and then prompt them to grant him absolute power. This is what democracy is. Only slavish, servile, unprincipled people would want to live in such a chaotic, arbitrary, contentious, ever shifting and ever turbulent society.
Our American government, though thoroughly corrupt today, was originally built upon the principles of individual Liberty and natural law. Our most fundamental rights were enshrined in our founding documents. Our government was designed to operate within very narrow limits. It was to adhere to the Constitution and was never meant to be arbitrary or rely on the whims and passions of the People. The government was meant to protect the rights of ALL people – not just those of the majority. Since rights come from our Creator, as the Declaration of Independence says, no government or earthly power can take them away – no, not even a super majority of the People. Rights are sacred and do not originate with government. Government does not grant rights. The only purpose of government existing is for the protection of rights. A democracy is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution because the latter protects and ensures rights while the former presupposes that no such rights exist and that the majority of the public at any given time have the right to decide what is right, what is law, what is just. Our Founders detested anarchy as strongly as they opposed despotism. They sought to find a happy medium between the two extremes and therefore devised a brand new government – a constitutional republic, a federal union, a confederacy of states bound together by a written constitution, a nation of laws and not of men.
I want to now quote several statements by various Founding Fathers and other sources concerning democracy:
“Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death.” – James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 10
“Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. . . .
“Napoleon and all his generals were but creatures of democracy, as really as Rienzi, Theodore, Massaniello, Jack Cade, or Wat Tyler. This democratical hurricane, inundation, earthquake, pestilence, call it which you will, at last aroused and alarmed all the world, and produced a combination unexampled, to prevent its further progress.” – John Adams to John Taylor, April 15, 1814
“Oh my Country, how I mourn over thy follies and vices, thine ignorance and imbecility, Thy contempt of Wisdom and Virtue and overweening Admiration of fools and Knaves! the never failing effects of democracy!” – John Adams to Benjamin Rush, September 19, 1806
“It is among the evils, and perhaps is not the smallest, of democratical governments that the people must feel before they will see; when this happens they are roused to action. Hence it is that this form of government is so slow.” – George Washington to Henry Knox, March 8, 1787
In W. Cleon Skousen’s brilliant book “The 5,000 Year Leap,” pages 156-157, a U.S. Army Training Manual from 1928 is quoted as explaining that democracy, “Results in mobocracy.” Furthermore, a democracy’s “attitude toward property is communistic – negating property rights.” And again it says of democracy that its “attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether it be based upon deliberation or government by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequence.” Such governments result “in demagogism, license, agitation, discontent, anarchy.”
The common sense of past generations is gone. For a full century or more, democracy has been heralded as the most wondrous system in the world – a blessing to mankind. Teachers teach that democracy is our system. Politicians give deceptive speeches about democracy. Colleges tout themselves as protectors of democracy. Our children grow up falsely believing that democracy is the system that will give us Freedom. The American People are today, at heart, democratical.
It should frighten us that our society is so enamored with democracy. If we are truly a democracy, then our days are numbered. If we are a democracy, then we are not freemen, but slaves to the whims of the majority. If we are a democracy, we have no natural or God-given rights which are protected by the Constitution, only temporary privileges. If we are a democracy, then our society will meet a violent, bloody end which will result in absolute tyranny and misery.
As a side note to our discussion, the staggering number of communist and socialist groups and organizations which call themselves “democratic” or that claim “democracy” is their goal should be very telling. When the Soviet Union faked its demise in order to fool the West into disarming, its adherents changed their names from communists to democrats. Communist parties suddenly became “democratic socialist” or “democratic” parties. Former “soviet socialist republics” now turned into “democracies.” Just several generations ago a clear way to distinguish a socialist or communist was the fact that he advocated democracy. Today, however, society embraces democracy and seeks to enforce it world wide at the point of the sword. We have devolved so frightfully because we abandoned the true principles which our Founding Fathers espoused and upon which our national and state institutions were founded upon.
I have thus far spoken strongly against the inherent flaws, or “evils” as George Washington called them, of democracy. I would be remiss if I did not now briefly highlight and define which system of government is most capable of securing the rights of the individual. Securing our God-given rights is, or should be, the purpose of any government. The system which best secures our rights is a constitutional republic. In other words, a republic which adheres to a written law that protects individual rights and which operates in narrowly defined limits. Our Founding Fathers were very clear on this matter.
Our Founders usually referred to the government they set up as “republican.” Thomas Jefferson was, in my mind, the most ardent supporter of republican government. Indeed, he went to great lengths to define what republican government is and how it should operate. He wanted individuals to take upon themselves the maximum amount of responsibility of which they were able and to then delegate what remained to the other units of society – the wards, counties, states, and federal union. I will let Jefferson’s own words explain the matter to you more eloquently than I can:
“For let it be agreed that a government is republican in proportion as every member composing it has his equal voice in the direction of its concerns (not indeed in person, which would be impracticable beyond the limits of a city, or small township, but) by representatives chosen by himself, and responsible to him at short periods, and let us bring to the test of this canon every branch of our constitution. . . .
“But it will be said, it is easier to find faults than to amend them. I do not think their amendment so difficult as is pretended. Only lay down true principles, and adhere to them inflexibly. Do not be frightened into their surrender by the alarms of the timid, or the croakings of wealth against the ascendency of the people. If experience be called for, appeal to that of our fifteen or twenty governments for forty years, and show me where the people have done half the mischief in these forty years, that a single despot would have done in a single year; or show half the riots and rebellions, the crimes and the punishments, which have taken place in any single nation, under kingly government, during the same period. The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen, in his person and property, and in their management. Try by this, as a tally, every provision of our constitution, and see if it hangs directly on the will of the people. . . .
“The organization of our county administrations may be thought more difficult. But follow principle, and the knot unties itself. Divide the counties into wards of such size as that every citizen can attend, when called on, and act in person. Ascribe to them the government of their wards in all things relating to themselves exclusively. A justice, chosen by themselves, in each, a constable, a military company, a patrol, a school, the care of their own poor, their own portion of the public roads, the choice of one or more jurors to serve in some court, and the delivery, within their own wards, of their own votes for all elective officers of higher sphere, will relieve the county administration of nearly all its business, will have it better done, and by making every citizen an acting member of the government, and in the offices nearest and most interesting to him, will attach him by his strongest feelings to the independence of his country, and its republican constitution. The justices thus chosen by every ward, would constitute the county court, would do its judiciary business, direct roads and bridges, levy county and poor rates, and administer all the matters of common interest to the whole country. These wards, called townships in New England, are the vital principle of their governments, and have proved themselves the wisest invention ever devised by the wit of man for the perfect exercise of self-government, and for its preservation. We should thus marshal our government into, 1, the general federal republic, for all concerns foreign and federal; 2, that of the State, for what relates to our own citizens exclusively; 3, the county republics, for the duties and concerns of the county; and 4, the ward republics, for the small, and yet numerous and interesting concerns of the neighborhood; and in government, as well as in every other business of life, it is by division and subdivision of duties alone, that all matters, great and small, can be managed to perfection. And the whole is cemented by giving to every citizen, personally, a part in the administration of the public affairs.”
The above quotations were taken from a lengthy letter written by Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816. I believe this letter to be perhaps the single most important text in existence on how self-government should work and how authority and stewardship should be distributed throughout society. I recommend that you read it in full. You will find it here: http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/presidents/thomas-jefferson/letters-of-thomas-jefferson/jefl246.php
Lest some disagree with Jefferson’s assessment that republican government is the only system that can preserve individual Liberty, I quote from several additional Founders.
“Republicanism is not the phantom of a deluded imagination. On the contrary . . . under no form of government will laws be better supported, liberty and property better secured, or happiness be more effectually dispensed to mankind.” – George Washington to Edmund Pendleton, January 22, 1795
“A pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. . . .
“A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union.
“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; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended.
“The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. 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.” – James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 10
“we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior. It is essential to such a government that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for their government the honorable title of republic. It is sufficient for such a government that the persons administering it be appointed, either directly or indirectly, by the people; and that they hold their appointments by either of the tenures just specified; otherwise every government in the United States, as well as every other popular government that has been or can be well organized or well executed, would be degraded from the republican character.” – James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 39
Benjamin Rush wrote much about education and its purposes. He wrote that the purpose of education was to “convert men into republican machines.” He also believed that women should be educated in republican principles. Of women he said, “They should not only be instructed in the usual branches of female education, but they should be taught the principles of liberty and government; and the obligations of patriotism should be inculcated upon them. The opinions and conduct of men are often regulated by the women in the most arduous enterprizes of life; and their approbation is frequently the principal reward of the hero’s dangers, and the patriot’s toils. Besides, the first impressions upon the minds of children are generally derived from the women. Of how much consequence, therefore, is it in a republic, that they should think justly upon the great subject of liberty and government!” – Benjamin Rush, Of the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic, 1798
I want to conclude with the following remarks from Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address of March 4, 1801.
“We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world’s best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.
“Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter — with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens — a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”
Indeed, a good government is a profound blessing just as a bad one is a scourge. History tells us that the only government ever to have secured individual rights is the republican government of the United States of America which was founded upon the true principles of Liberty contained within the Constitution. America can experience felicity once again if her people turn to God, repent of their individual and national sins, and embrace true principles – particularly those true principles of constitutional republican government which were so masterfully expounded by our noble Founding Fathers. Democracy is detestable and sits at odds with Freedom. Republicanism, as expounded by Jefferson and his fellows, is the path we want to take – the path which will make us responsible, self-sufficient freemen. God bless those with eyes to see and ears to hear and courage enough to act on the truth.