Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Republic, Not a Democracy

By De’Von Weatherspoon

The Romans knew it by res publica-the public thing. We modern homo sapiens know it as a republic. We have known many different republics our short time on earth. There are merchant republics, oligarchic republics, and even aristocratic republics.

The Ancient Romans were very wise in their creation of this form of government. The Roman Republic was a carefully created institution with many independent offices each checking the power of the rest. Sure, it may have towards the end of its life become ineffective, but the Roman Republic reached a period of stability that is unrivaled in any civilization. Its very nature created the perfect environment to preserve. Its difficulty in passing progressive legislation ensured that no reform would be passed without support of the populi romani (roman people for you non-latin buffs).

Our Founding Fathers knew of this and they created in essence a modern roman republic. America had its full efficiency as a government during the early-republic period. Why?, Simply because the United States was actually a republic. We now have a government designed to be a res public becoming democratic. What went wrong? I have my own personal beliefs that I won’t indulge you with at the moment, but let us just say that Andrew Jackson and the populist movement during the late 1870s-1930s is chief suspect.

Many of you are wondering how democracy can be a bad thing. Consider this; every government that acted in a democratic manner has been lost to history. The biggest example of this would be the ancient city-state of Athens. In Athens, every male citizen was allowed to vote on every issue. To make things better, once a year all the voting citizens would gather to vote on a citizen to ban from Athens. Many of those banded built the Parthenon, won the Persian wars, and spread Athenian influence everywhere. Citizens in Ancient Athens, as are citizens in the US now, are subjugated to the tyranny of the majority. Athens then went on to be ruled by a band of 30 tyrants who came about by democratic means, and with this, the Romans said to the Greeks, sic gloria mundi transit (thus passes the glory of the world).

The Disney version of history would have we citizens all believe that the Founding Fathers were all for democracy. This is a silly notion and must be eradicated from the teaching of early American history. Our fathers feared that the nation would be subject to the majority. Even my idol Alexander Hamilton called the public, the beast. Read the Federalist Papers and the fear of the majority is a common theme. The tyranny of the majority that the Fathers were so afraid of, and rightfully so, has spoiled the body politic of this nation. The United States was founded as a republic, and I am convinced that our nation will not function properly until we turn away from the democratization of America, and we re-embrace our national heritage-the republic.

Do not get me wrong; I believe in free speech and all the other things that have come to be associated with democracy, but democracy leads to unstable governments, polarization, and inefficiency in government-all of which we are suffering from right now.

I once told a friend of mine my views on this subject and he stated thus, “in a republic, rights get trampled on.” I looked at my friend and replied, “in a republic rights are protected against all forms of persuasion. In a democracy one’s rights are subjugated to the whims of everyone else.” So why then do most Americans continue to believe that democracy is the best form of government? It must stand on the books that America was founded as a republic and in order to function properly must move away from this form of democracy that has exerted such limitless power on American politics.

I shall ask a question: How can a government function under conditions, rules, and obligation in which it was not designed?

De’Von “Van” Weatherspoon is a high school student and contributor to He is from the great state of Michigan and describes himself as a “Hamiltonian-Rockefeller Republican

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!

The danger of a democracy is that a majority of 1 or a majority of 99% can dictate the most unconscionable acts upon the minority and claim it is moral and licit.

A republic allows the people to hold local government to task for its laws and enforcement. By making the US a democracy that must conform on a national heterodox, we lose the individuality that each locality can bring to solving issues or just administering daily life.

The biggest argument is that the Southern States would have used its soverignty to maintain slavery. No doubt.

However, the Constitution is imbued with the concept that individuals hold natural rights endowed by their creator that cannot be abridged. These natural rights supercede the interests of the whole. Neither the national government nor a state government can abridge individual rights even if there good of the group demands such infringments.

I look forward to Van's next installment. While I have great respsct for hamilton, I'd be careful about idolizing him. He would not agree with my prior paragraph.