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Author Topic: Democracy or Republic, Which Is it?
Daruma28
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The following is a transcription from a PDF pamphlet a friend emailed me awhile ago.

It explains why my head wants to explode whenever I hear people talk about "democracy" as some virtuous ideal that is responsible for America's Superpower status and economic wealth...

"Democracy or Republic, Which Is It?"
by Benedict D La Rosa

Several years ago, a caller to the Larry King television talk show asked a guest, a Congressman, to explain the difference between a republic and a democracy. The congressman responded that there was no difference; the two words were synonymous. Intrigued by the ignorance of this apparently intelligent, well-meaning man who has sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, I consulted several dictionaries. None of them considered the two words synonymous, though all described them in similar terms.

Little wonder then that the words are used interchangeably today, to the founders of this country, however, there was a big difference between the two. Even Heinrich Muller, Chief of the Gestapo, recognized this. In an interview given to the Central Intelligence Agency in 1948 at his home in Switzerland, Muller said: " Here in Switzerland, is the only real democracy in the world. You in America have a republic, not a democracy. There is a real difference there. Is the distinction merely the rambling of a politically incorrect 18th century tax protesters, or are there real differences between the two forms of government?

Although we hear the term democracy used constantly in reference to our form of government, the word does not appear in either the declaration of independence or the Constitution of the United States, our two fundamental documents.

Indeed Article IV, Section 4, of the Constitution "guarantees to every State in this Union a Republic Form of Government." In addition, we sing the battle hymn of the Republic, and pledge allegiance to the flag, "of the Republic for which it stands." On the contrary, the founders saw great danger in democracy. Tom Paine, that firebrand of the American Revolution, considered democracy the vilest form of government. In describing the purpose of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Virginia delegate Edmund Randolph commented: The general object was to provide a cure for the evils under which the United States labored; that in tracing these evils to their origin, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.

Thirty-eight years after the Declaration of Independence, John Adams warned: Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide.

John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835 observed: Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos. As late as 1928, the "Citizenship" chapter of U.S. War Department training manual TM 200-25 expressed the opinion: Democracy ... has been repeatedly tried without success. Our Constitutional fathers .....made a very marked distinction between a republic and a democracy ....and said emphatically that they had founded a republic.

One of America's outstanding historians, Charles Austin Beard (1874-1948) put it succinctly: At no time, at no place in solemn convention assembled, though no chosen agents, had the American people officially proclaimed the United States to be a democracy. The Constitution did not contain the word or any word lending countenance to it....

Why, then, do we call ourselves a democracy, and does it really make a difference?

What is a democracy?

The origin of the word democracy comes from the Greek demos, meaning people, and kratos, meaning government.

Literally, democracy means a government by or of the people. In a democracy, the majority rules either directly, or through elected representatives or appointed officials, without the restraint embodied in a fixed body of law. The law is whatever an official organ of government determines it is. ("The rule of law is in their mouth", as was said of absolute monarchs.) It is rule by whim rather than law, by emotion rather than reason. Individuals have no inherent rights, but are considered as the products of history ( slavery, the renaissance, dark ages, etc) class ( nobility, merchant, artisan, peasant, etc) gender ( male or female) race (Caucasian, Negroid, etc) religion ( Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Moslem, Jewish, etc.) and are classified and categorized accordingly. Rights emanate from the mass will or power. The purpose of government is to satisfy needs ( food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, etc.) It is a government by conflicting biases with the result that members of politically powerful constituencies receive privileges because of their classification within certain categories rather than on merit at the expense of everyone else The racial and other quotas under Affirmative Action are an example. The laws are political or man made, and reflect not truth and justice, but power.

They are a mass of ad hoc decisions produced through lobbying, geared to expediency, concerned more with immediate consequences and less with consistency or continuity. Gun control and drug laws are prime examples. They are based on the emotional reaction to societal problems for which the misuse of guns and drugs are merely the symptom. Despite overwhelming evidence that such laws not only don't work, but actually encourage lawlessness, those who support them demand more draconian measures in the face of their repeated failures.

As a consequence, our prisons fill with peaceful people who merely want to defend themselves or relax with a drug which is, at most, harmful only to themselves while murderers, rapists, and robbers are set free to make room for these political prisoners. Political law creates advantage. Therefore, political factions compete to control the law making process. Government power is a prize to be won for the benefit of the winners at the expense of the losers. The law becomes an instrument used by the winners against their opponents. Officers of the law are appropriately called law enforcement officers or policemen ( from the Greek, Latin and French to regulate, control or clean up). Their primary role is to enforce the corporate will, and to protect the power of the state. The military is an instrument of foreign and at times, domestic policy. Taxes are imposed without the individuals consent, and are used to reward as well as pay for legitimate government functions. People vote for what they want, not what is right. The public looks to the political class for moral leadership. Public and private morality are considered the same which justifies making private morality public policy. Thus what one does in the privacy of his own home with consenting adults ( gambling, for example) must meet the same standard as for public behavior. As a result, vices becomes crimes, and the exercise of certain freedoms becomes criminal activities.

What is lawful today, may not be tomorrow, and an individual considered law abiding one day, may be a criminal the next, though his behavior has not changed. Restraint is upon the individual.

Rights are relative and take the form of privileges granted though government licenses and permits, or simply permissions revocable at the whim of those in power. The will of one segment of society- the majority- is imposed on everyone. Government acts like a hammer punishing violations of majority standards as enacted by legislation. Consent is the governed is meaningless, for such governments exercise their powers over anyone they choose. Democracy concentrates power in the hands of the few organized and clever enough to manipulate the masses. It is characterized by a communistic attitude toward property and monopolistic enterprises. Government thus becomes an instrument for the redistribution of wealth as well as the security of the state. It is the rule of men, the dictatorship of the majority without regard to the consequences upon individuals or society.

What is a Republic?

The word republic is from the Latin res, which means thing, affair or interest, and publica which means of everybody. It literally means everybody's thing or interest. The Declaration of Independence contains the principles of republican government: that all men are created equal, unalienable rights, that governments are formed by men to secure those rights, and that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Upon these principles, our forefathers established a body of law called the Constitution of the United States to which they added a Bill of Rights as the first ten amendments to further restrict majority rule.

The essence of a republic is the rule of law, by which is meant the common or scientific law, which is certain and unchangeable. This law is discovered, not made, in that the tendency is to find the freedoms and restraints imposed by natural law, and base decisions upon them. (" Man cannot make principles, he can only discover them," wrote Tom Paine.) Since human nature doesn't change, and what was right yesterday should be so today and tomorrow. Courts seek out and enforce a higher law as opposed to a political or man made law.

As a result, the law seeks truth, transcends politics, is reasonable, consistent, predictable, and reflects or approximates natural justice. Government acts like a shield punishing the abuses of freedoms- assaults against the life, liberty and property of innocent people - not the freedoms themselves. For example, the misuse of a firearm which results in injury to an innocent party would be punished rather than the mere possession of such a weapon. Officers of the law are appropriately called peace officers, for they do not enforce political law, but protect everyone equally from force and fraud. The military is used as a last resort to protect the nation. Moral authority rests outside the political class who are held to a high moral standard though public pressure.

Government's purpose is to protect rights and defend them. Taxes are voluntary assessments used to fund legitimate government functions serving the common good ( in obedience to John Adams dictum that " no man may be taxed against his will"...) Under this form of government, individual freedom and responsibility are maximized. The individual is sovereign and his rights are sacrosanct. Individuals are free to act without permission, but must never impose without consent. Everyone has an equal right to compete in the marketplace, succeed or fail, on their own, and pursue their own happiness restrained only by the rights of others to do the same. Republics reject as a danger to liberty the public interest doctrine espoused in democracies, because as John Adams articulated: " You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe."

In a republic, the government has just enough power to carry out it's proper functions, but is otherwise limited, inhibited and restricted. According to political historian, Thomas Molnar: " The prevailing concept (of 18th century liberalism) was.... that the State should concern itself with public safety, and should be called out- in the form of its armed forces- only to restrain the disorderly and crush rebellious.." Power is decentralized, divided, and regulated by an elaborate system of checks and balances, with the ultimate check held by the people in the form of free and open elections (the ballot box) trial by jury ( the jury box, and an armed citizenry ( the cartridge box). The law is neutral. No one is exempt; everyone is equal before it. All are held fully accountable to an injured party.

Republican government is based on Tom Paine's premise that; " Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worse state, an intolerable one" Thomas Jefferson, in his first inaugural address, gave perhaps the best description of republican government: " A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another.... shall leave them otherwise free 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..." In a republic, government is an instrument solely for collective security in which the people are served rather than regulated, represented rather than ruled. When the principles of republican government are followed, free markets spring up automatically followed by a growing middle class, abundance, harmony, a high degree of liberty, and ethical behavior. The emphasis is on the creation of wealth, not the accumulation of power as in a democracy.

Why not a Democracy? John Adams summed up what a government of men brings: " Passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have concerned themselves; nations and large bodies of men, never." Professor Alexander Fraser Tyler, writing when the states were still colonies of Great Britain, explained why democracies always fail: " A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of Government. It can only exist until the voter discover they can vote themselves largess of the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy. always to be followed by a dictatorship" James Madison, father of the Constitution, wrote in the Federalist No. 10: "in a pure democracy, there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such 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 deaths." Even Plato warned, in his republic, that as a rule, tyranny arises from democracy.

For these reasons, the founders of our Republic avoided a government of men and established a government of law. Why the misconception? The confusion is not new. James Madison, writing in the Federalist No. 14, refers to: The error which limits republican government... seems to owe its rise and prevalence chiefly to the confounding of a republic with a democracy, applying to the former reasoning drawn from the nature of the latter." Madison blamed " celebrated authors" for the confusion because they placed: .... in comparison the vices and defects of the republican, and by citing as specimens of the latter the turbulent democracies of ancient Greece and modern Italy. Under the confusion of names, it has been an easy task to transfer to a republic observations applicable to a democracy only. Widespread use of the term democracy began with the Woodrow Wilson administration in 1912. It was during this administration that the anti-republican amendments -the 16th (income tax) and 17th (popular election of senators) were added to our Constitution and a central bank - the federal reserve- was established. All three acts centralized power. The US War Department manual mentioned above defined democracy and republic, and explained the difference between both.

Sometime in the 1930's during the Franklin Roosevelt administration, all copies were withdrawn from the Government Printing Office and Army posts, and destroyed without explanation. Confusion between the two forms of government lingers today to the detriment of not only the American people, but also all those who look to us as an example of how to structure a just and free society. When we understand the difference, many of the issues which divide us will melt away. We will then make better choices in our leaders, and demand that government become less intrusive, abusive and expensive, and more responsive to our collective needs for security, harmony, and abundance.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the very survival of our civilization depends upon knowing the difference between a Republic and a Democracy.

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Pinochio
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good read. great post.

In a nutshell, a democracy to me would mean that every citizen would have to have be consulted for every decision made by government. This may work in small groups but to run a country that way would require being in a voting booth 24 hours a day and nothing would ever get accomplished. A republic is a way to convert the 'will of the people' into law and then govern 'by the law'.

Thats my take at least. What i find amusing about this topic is that I have had several conversations with self described 'communist' who believe that the only reason communism has failed every time its tried is because it hasnt yet been perfected. These people believe that a government can be run by not having any class structure, governing body, or levels of authority. They believe that all decision should be made by a democratic vote. Their Utopian dream always falls apart when I ask specifically about how this 'democratic vote' to manage the society would take place.

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cb
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This should be required reading in all schools. Silly notion I know [DOH] .
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RickyB
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Good stuff, but some very wrong stuff in it that drives it off the deep end.

First, you make somewhat too much of the semantics. Yes, many people are genuinely ignorant, but a republic is a "democratic" form of government, in that it is "the rule of the people" (by the people, for the people), but it is true that very few democratic forms of government are republics.

Now, you come to this:
"Since human nature doesn't change, and what was right yesterday should be so today and tomorrow. Courts seek out and enforce a higher law as opposed to a political or man made law."

This is very wrong. Or rather, misses the point. A quick zen story to illustrate: Two novice monks are looking at a banner wave in the wind and argue: is it the flag moving, or the wind? Zen master's answer, natch: It is the mind moving.

Human nature does not change much. Our ideas and practice of it do. And the notion that all should remain as it was means, among other things, the continuation of slavery and the 3/5 solution. Women would not have the vote, as they were assumed in the 18th century by the vast majority to be unqualified, and human nature does not change...

Plus, the idea that the "right" thing is there and we need but discover it is useful... up to a point. Often, there is nowhere to discover it but in the heart and mind of the person or persons doing the ruling on the matter. When there is no precedent, yet the judge sees clear injustice, clear suffering, should he simply shrug and say "sorry, can't do a thing till the legislature passes a law, no matter how many suffer wrongly?"

This whole "natural truth" thing a religious mode of thought if taken too far, and runs the risk of reaching silliness like Judaism's pretense that whatever a matter is decided by a majority of rabbis, it immediately becomes god's will, or catholicism's similar conceit regarding the pope and collegium.

There is no great master plan that if we just hew to, we'll be fine. We need to make huge decisions on a constant basis, because this is all virgin territory.

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RickyB
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"In a nutshell, a democracy to me would mean that every citizen would have to have be consulted for every decision made by government. "

No, that's direct democracy, as differs from representative democracy. Even in Athens, once a Strategos was elected, he commanded in battle. He didn't bring his battle plans to the assembly.

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Athelstan
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When I was young I thought our Constitutional Monarchy as an anachronism from a past age, I also thought that I was a Communist. Now this might be that I am now old but I now see the advantages of a Constitutional Monarchy. Through out British History politicians have bribed the electorate to vote for them with false promises which eventually fail. These failures do not effect the Head of State and thereby any diminution of National Pride. We just clear out the old politicians and bring in a new lot who will eventually fail in their turn. The Head of State is above politics and therefore not sullied by it. With our constituency voting system you tend not to get minority block votes affecting the outcome so the failed politicians just wait around until their turns comes again. No need for revolution and of course nothing gets done, perfect government. Now this system probably only works in a small country but it is a form of government that has been copied around the world whereas the US model is, in my opinion, a successful rarity.

Maybe it’s not Democracies or Republics that fail, it is just big countries. All countries have their independence movements. Apparently Western Australia has one. When he was studying Republics Ben Franklin was very interested in the Republic of Venice and had long correspondence with them. Venice was very successful as a nation state but since joining Italy it has become a holiday destination. A system designed for thirteen States now has to work for fifty. Perhaps it’s time for a bloodless civil war and create three or more countries out of the USA.

There is a school of thought, mine mainly, that President Wilson’s insistence on Germany adopting his version of Democracy and forcing the abdication of the Kaiser created the disunity of Germany and led to rise of the National Socialists. America did not make the same mistake with Japan and its Emperor at the end of World War II.

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Redskullvw
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Yes Ricky

But Athens was still a direct democracy.

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Redskullvw
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Athelstan

You view on Wilson is, or rather was until politics in college history departments, considered to be pretty valid and supported by research. Princeton of course has stridently fought this point of view.

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RickyB
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"But Athens was still a direct democracy."

Very true. It was also not really what we today call a democracy, since at no time past the 6th century did more than 15% (i.e. not even near a majority of males) of the permanent residents of Athens (let alone Greater Athens) enfranchised, and I use that cutoff merely since prior to that demographic details get murky. I used the "even" to show that even in a direct democracy, not *every* business of state is voted on by the body politic.

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RickyB
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oops. did=were.
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RickyB
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"There is a school of thought, mine mainly, that President Wilson’s insistence on Germany adopting his version of Democracy and forcing the abdication of the Kaiser created the disunity of Germany and led to rise of the National Socialists. America did not make the same mistake with Japan and its Emperor at the end of World War II."

Good observation.

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Everard
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"ven in Athens, once a Strategos was elected, he commanded in battle. He didn't bring his battle plans to the assembly. "

I gotta look back at that. If I remember correctly, part of the problem Athens faced in the peloponesian wars was that the generals DID have to bring a lot of what they were doing to the assembly for a vote.

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DonaldD
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Pick your definition, but without redefining the word to mean whatever you like, the question is a false dichotomy.

Democracy:
  • government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
  • a state having such a form of government: The United States and Canada are democracies.
  • a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.
  • political or social equality; democratic spirit.
  • the common people of a community as distinguished from any privileged class; the common people with respect to their political power.

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RickyB
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Could be. In any case, Athens *was* a direct democracy. That's the crucial feature of modern (representative) democracies - the vast majority of laws are made by reps without full consultation of the people, with being voted out as the risk they face for displeasing the constituents with their vote.

Ev - a general couldn't decide to take a city on his own (unless that was his mission upon appointment, in which case not on his own), but you couldn't tell him "engage here and now" when he wanted to move to better ground, or tell him to attack in three prongs rather than two. You *could* recall him from command.

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Everard
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Yeah. Strategy was voted on, tactics was up to the general, and returning generals were up for a vote of confidence seems to be about what I remember.
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Colin JM0397
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Just watched a 2.5 hr PBS special from Netflix on Athens last weekend - a good synopsis of their rise and fall. It's called "Greeks: Crucible of Civilization".

What struck me are the parallels between the US today and Athens at it's downfall. Overly expensive foreign wars crushing their international clout, ruining their position as the top dog in the region, and a forced surrender to Sparta - and all voted on and agreed to by the majority of voting citizens.

Of course it is not a complete repeat of history, but the similarities are chilling.

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RickyB
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And yet Athens continued to thrive as a great city and continued to give to the world for centuries, whereas Sparta was gone within less than one, justly consumed by the Messenian Helots. [Smile]
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cb
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quote:
Human nature does not change much. Our ideas and practice of it do. And the notion that all should remain as it was means, among other things, the continuation of slavery and the 3/5 solution. Women would not have the vote, as they were assumed in the 18th century by the vast majority to be unqualified, and human nature does not change...
This is an invalid argument on the premise that modern human behavior is an improvement on all past human behavior. During the first centuries of Islam, beginning 7th century A.D., women were equal with men. During the Seljuk Empire women had equal rights and rank to men. Egypt to Greece to the Romans, and in Europe to as late as the Crusades Black Africans fought along side white Anglos and were recognized as equals.

Human behavior changes as the whim of society allows it. Where slavery was recognized legally by society it was accepted by society. Where subjugating women to men was recognized legally by society it was accepted by society. Those values have changed with each civilizations' rise and fall. However when it comes to society's recognition of marriage, it has historically, consistently been accepted that marriage is between a man and woman.

Only modern day society has attempted to recognize legally and accept SSM. Some would argue that is because we are so much more enlightened today. I would argue it is because modern society is choosing to cut itself free from the ties of "tradition".

The problem is that, like a kite set free from the hand that controls it, a society so freed will skitter giddily for a while, only to ultimately end up smashing into the earth, because without the string of tradition that has kept it secured, society had no direction or grounding.

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Daruma28
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
Good stuff, but some very wrong stuff in it that drives it off the deep end.

In your opinion...which I disagree wholeheartedly (of course.)

First, you make somewhat too much of the semantics.

Actually, no. La Rosa is merely presenting the cogent arguments that the Founding Father's wrestled with when they attempting to create the framework of the constitution. As he took the most relevant statements from the key architects to convey the arguments put forth against Democracy. This highlights the fact that the founders omitted any mention of the D word in both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution...and that the omission was quite deliberate.

Yes, many people are genuinely ignorant, but a republic is a "democratic" form of government, in that it is "the rule of the people" (by the people, for the people), but it is true that very few democratic forms of government are republics.

Now who's making too much with semantics?

Now, you come to this:
"Since human nature doesn't change, and what was right yesterday should be so today and tomorrow. Courts seek out and enforce a higher law as opposed to a political or man made law."

This is very wrong. Or rather, misses the point. A quick zen story to illustrate: Two novice monks are looking at a banner wave in the wind and argue: is it the flag moving, or the wind? Zen master's answer, natch: It is the mind moving.
Human nature does not change much. Our ideas and practice of it do. And the notion that all should remain as it was means, among other things, the continuation of slavery and the 3/5 solution.


That's a false dichotomy. Slavery was outlawed by the amendment process under the "old" way, before the two significant amendments that La Rosa cites subverted our Republic into a Democracy.

Women would not have the vote, as they were assumed in the 18th century by the vast majority to be unqualified, and human nature does not change...

This is applying the modern day conventional thinking to a much different era. The Constitution NEVER specifically denied Women the right to vote...it was based on property ownership. Women can and did own property and businesses throughout all of American History.

The primary difference is that up until the 1960's, it was the cultural norm for Women to get married and have children and become homemakers. The idea was one vote, one household...and the matrimonial bond was recognized as the merging of a man and a woman into ONE LEGAL ENTITY.

It was not like the Founding Fathers sat around in a devious circle and stated "Only Men must have the right to vote...women are unqualified!"

Under the original ideal, most men were unqualified too.

Plus, the idea that the "right" thing is there and we need but discover it is useful... up to a point. Often, there is nowhere to discover it but in the heart and mind of the person or persons doing the ruling on the matter. When there is no precedent, yet the judge sees clear injustice, clear suffering, should he simply shrug and say "sorry, can't do a thing till the legislature passes a law, no matter how many suffer wrongly?"

Yep. Judge should say, "it is not my Consitutional duty to create new laws, only to interpret and apply the laws as they exist under our constitutional process. The precedent of dividing the powers of legislating and executing the laws was done PRECISELY to avoid the consolidation of power into any one branch of government.

The very justifications you cite that make it acceptable for the Judiciary to supercede their constitutional authority is the very same justifications that enabled the executive branch to enact the same extra-constitutional laws you opposed so vehemently under Dubya's administration!

This whole "natural truth" thing a religious mode of thought if taken too far, and runs the risk of reaching silliness like Judaism's pretense that whatever a matter is decided by a majority of rabbis, it immediately becomes god's will, or catholicism's similar conceit regarding the pope and collegium.

Hah! You just provided the EXACT demonstration of the subversion of 'natural truth' by the hubris of men! Just because a rabbi or a pope is doing it under the garb of religious authority does not mean they automatically are proponents of natural law.

There is no great master plan that if we just hew to, we'll be fine. We need to make huge decisions on a constant basis, because this is all virgin territory.

Who said there was no great master plan? That is not the argument being made here!

The argument is one form of government is designed to keep the Federal government weak and unable to intrude on, limit and take away our individual freedom and liberty...the other, will result in inevitable corruption as Democracy promotes centralization and empowerment of the very entity the entire founding documents were designed to limit!

I see you making this argument all the time...that conservatives or folks like me that want a return to the original framework the Founders designed, that we are all deluded utopians who believe the past was perfect and we can get back to perfection if only...

That is a silly, straw man argument.

The premise goes back to that old maxim - Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

By limiting the means of seizing power and empowering the Federal Government, the despotic cannot manipulate the masses via "Democracy" to achieve their goals.

Look at all of the issues you are opposed to Ricky. Just about all of them were done via deliberate ignorance of the Constitutional restraints placed upon the Federal government!

Iraq war? Accomplished by the Executive branch exceeding it's authority while the Legislative branch ignored it's own responsibility!

War on Drugs? Look no further than the Feds IGNORING States rights who vote in favor of medical marijuana initiatives only to have the DEA threaten to throw any Doctors that prescribe it into jail in violation of Federal Fiat.

quote:
DonaldDPick your definition, but without redefining the word to mean whatever you like, the question is a false dichotomy.

Democracy:

* government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
* a state having such a form of government: The United States and Canada are democracies.
* a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.
* political or social equality; democratic spirit.
* the common people of a community as distinguished from any privileged class; the common people with respect to their political power.

Who's redefining anything? La Rosa doesn't redefine anything you've posted here. He's only pointing out that AMERICA has been redefined as a Democracy, when it was originally intended to be a Republic! He is making the case for why that is a mistake by pointing out all of the very same arguments the founders had when they deliberately designed the documents to avoid Democracy.

The fact that we have indeed been subverted into a Democracy, and all of the attendant problems that have ensued merely shows that their fears and reasoning were well founded.

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RickyB
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I'm going to explain this again, very carefully.

Democracy is a word which has two political meanings. One specific, the other over-arching. Thing of them as species and race. republic/democracy is a "race" level distinction, as both belong to the "species" also known (gotta fix that some day) as "democracy". So you have "Democracy: Republic" and you have Democracy: Democracy".

Get it now?

And yes, very much of the original balance between federal and state power was irrevocably lost with the resolution of the civil war. Think of it as the impact of the Mule on Seldon's plan (tho of course not nearly as unforeseeable...)

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Daruma28
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Ok Ricky, let's just say I accept your parameters...all that means is La Rosa is reiterating the Founding Father's deliberate framework of Democracy:Republic vs. Democracy:Democracy, and how Democracy:Democracy leads to the inevitable corruption of the Government.

Of course, the civil war and Lincoln's subversion of the Constitution were key events.

Modern revisionist history incorrectly paints the Civil War as the war over Slavery, when in fact it was a war of the right for any State to secede from the Union as originally recognized by the Constitution.

Lincoln set up the groundwork for the exact thing I'm talking about. In the name of "Saving the Union," Lincoln became the first primary actor to upset the balance of power and super-ceded the Constitutional restrictions of the Executive Branch's authority.

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DonaldD
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Actually Ricky - Democracy and republic are not exactly hierarchical. It is completely possible for a Republic to also be an a-democratic dictatorship.

However the basic, underlying document that defines your country and government - the constitution - explicitly lays out its democratic and republican nature. You have to purposefully ignore those sections that describe the democratic institutions in order to represent the country otherwise.

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0Megabyte
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... you know, this may be a little silly, but I was always of the idea that we were under a constitutional democratic republic.

You'd never know it from the way a lot of people clamor for things like "the will of the majority" or so forth.

but anyway, I honestly don't see how the income tax damages representational government. I also, incidentally, don't see a problem with representatives in government being chosen by the people.

Granted, the Senate thing was a little odd, but it just goes to show that the power of the states themselves is much weaker. But in this modern age, when they've given up most of their power (willingly, for the most part) to the federal government, it's for purposes for which either centralized power can have good effects, or for selfish personal benefit, such as federal money.

Not a situation I'm gonna cheer, but that's how it's gone so far, and I'm not sure that the other possibility is necessarily better. Anyway, yeah, popular election of Senators is odd, and definitely shifts power farther into the hands of the people.

But I doubt, significantly, that it's enough of a shift to have made us some kind of true democracy. We ourselves, for the most part, aren't making the laws. Our representatives in Congress are. Yeah, they're beholden to us, but I'd rather them beholden to us than to the states themselves. Our government is flawed, sure, and there's certainly a danger in majority rule, but that's not the way things have been going.

Besides. We still have all those "activist judges" who make decisions that can be pretty darn unpopular, based on their interpretation of the constitution of both the U.s. and the states themselves. With some high profile exceptions, things have been heading away from majority persecution of whoever they wish to persecute.

Besides. This entire idea forgets something else... the people in power can fairly easily manipulate the people through other means.

Remember how many of us were for the Iraq war before it happened, for example...?

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Haggis
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We're living in a dictatorship.

Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Come and see the violence inherent in the system.

Help, help, I'm being repressed!

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DonaldD
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You didn't properly reference that, Haggis. Plagiarist! Plagiarist! Ni!
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Haggis
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Oh crap. You got me. [Razz]
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RickyB
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There was no right to secede. Show me where it says so? Only problem was, it wasn't spelled out nice and clear the way Card did with the FPE.

Donald - sure, people can call themselves whatever they want. See: "People's" "Republic" of China. But I'd be interested in an example of an actual republic that is an a-democratic dictatorship. And not Rome. [Smile]

BTW, Daruma, so you think the south should have been allowed to secede, and continue enslaving people?

[ November 21, 2008, 12:49 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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Stevarooni
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
There was no right to secede. Show me where it says so?

I would think that the 10th Amendment would qualify for that; the right or prohibition of a state's secession was not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. Not that I think that the successful secession of the Confederacy would've been a good thing, and the elimination of slavery was a very, very good thing for the United States. Just the same, the Civil War was a watershed moment in terms of central authority.
quote:
Originally posted by the 10th Amendment:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


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DonaldD
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Ricky, a republic is simply a country that is not led by a hereditary monarch, but in which at least a part of its people have some impact on its government. Note that these people having impact could be a self-propagating plutocracy, the military, or even a large portion of the general population.

There's nothing in the definition of republic that is a priori good or bad: so yes, the People's Republic is, by definition, a presidential republic. The U.S. is also a presidential republic in addition to being a constitutional republic. Switzerland on the other hand is a constitutional republic but is not a presidential republic since the head of state is not a single person but rather a council.

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Daruma28
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
There was no right to secede. Show me where it says so?

The 10th Amendment - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Since secession was not specifically denied by the Constitution to the states, the states, and the people, retained that right.

quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
BTW, Daruma, so you think the south should have been allowed to secede, and continue enslaving people?

Two separate issues. Just because I think Lincoln violated the Constitution does not mean I believe slavery is good or justified.

[ November 21, 2008, 06:57 PM: Message edited by: Daruma28 ]

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Athelstan
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The New England Federalists at the Hartford Convention of 1814 certainly thought they had a right to secede from the Union over the issue of Mr Madison’s War. As an outsider I’ve never been able to understand why the South somehow lost the right to secede in 1861. That was seen as rebellion.
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RickyB
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Do you think the South should have been allowed to secede, and where is the right of secession secured in the constitution?

Athelstan - did they, tho? Thinking is allowed. [Smile]

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RickyB
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The 10th thing is sophism. It cannot be said to be a self-destruct option without further backing, otherwise the constitution was violated 4 years after ratification, in the Whiskey Rebellion, not to mention during ratification, with Shays.
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RickyB
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Steve - I acknowledged the watersheddity of the civil war. [Smile] It clarified the matter, which the founders purposely left open, not being able to reach agreement.
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Stevarooni
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
It cannot be said to be a self-destruct option without further backing, otherwise the constitution was violated 4 years after ratification, in the Whiskey Rebellion, not to mention during ratification, with Shays.

I doubt that it took 4 years for the U.S. Constitution to be violated in one way or another. [Big Grin]
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