Our Republic, can we keep it?
It is said that at the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 18, 1787, a Mrs. Powel anxiously awaited the results, and as Benjamin Franklin emerged on the street, asked him: “Well Doctor, what kind of government have you given us?” “A Republic if you can keep it” responded Franklin.
A Republican form of government is dedicated to the propositon that the power of a central government rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. Our constitution , in Article 4, section 4 asserts that: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government” assuring that as a nation, we are a collection of state Republics bound by a central constitutional Republic.
Many of us seem to believe that we are actually a Democracy, a belief that is encouraged and fostered by our politicians and popular media. It is important to dispel that belief for the following reasons:
Democracy is characterized by majority rule. In a Democracy, the individual, and any group of individuals composing any minority, have no protection against the unlimited power of the majority. It is a case of blind majority rule.
A Republic has a very different purpose and an entirely different form of government. Its purpose is to control the majority, primarily to protect the individual’s, or minorities, unalienable rights and the liberties of all people.
Our founders knew that in a pure Democracy, tyrany was a natural extension of the will of the majority. The concept of unalienable rights, an essential component of their revolutionary plan for self governance, could not exist in a Democracy. In order to secure and ensure those rights, a Republican form of governance, restricted by a central governments limited constitutional powers, was the only option.
How long can we as a nation exist under this Republican form of government? Theoretically, until the majority realizes that they can alter the government to suit their purposes. When the concepts of empathy, class envy, wealth redistribution, and expansion of rights from the unalienable variety to the cause du jour variety come to be the defining purpose of governmental intrusion on the citizenry, our Republic will have vanished.
I think we’re almost there.