:: Friday, April 25, 2003 ::
I don't know about you, but I am getting fed up with the misdirection and disinformation that is constantly being bantered about concerning the need for "democracy" in Iraq. Maybe it is the reult of a simple, but profound misunderstanding of the definition of the word. I hope that that is the case, but I fear that this misunderstanding is being exploited by those who know better.
The United States of America is not a democracy. We are a republic. Don't scoff at the apparent hair-splitting; the differences are profound. In a democracy, each member/citizen has an equal voice in all matters and the majority wins the day. A republic provides for the popular voice of the people to select representatives to take up their causes in the governing process. To whit, our senators and representatives place votes on our behalf to decide the law and policy of the nation. If we disagree with their positions on the issues, we don't vote for them, but those who are elected have the responsibility to set public policy, not the individual voter.
Consider this excerpt from a 1928 War Department training manual on the defenitions of the two forms of government:
A government of the masses. Authority derived through mass meeting or any other form of "direct" expression. Results in mobocracy. Attitude toward property is communistic--negating property rights. Attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether is be based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences. Results in demogogism, license, agitation, discontent, anarchy
Authority is derived through the election by the people of public officials best fitted to represent them. Attitude toward law is the administration of justice in accord with fixed principles and established evidence, with a strict regard to consequences. A greater number of citizens and extent of territory may be brought within its compass. Avoids the dangerous extreme of either tyranny or mobocracy. Results in statesmanship, liberty, reason, justice, contentment, and progress. Is the "standard form" of government throughout the world. A republic is a form of government under a constitution which provides for the election of
(1) an executive and (2) a legislative body, who working together in a representative capacity, have all the power of appointment, all power of legislation, all power to raise revenue and appropriate expenditures, and are required to create (3) a judiciary to pass upon the justice and legality of their government acts and to recognize (4) certain inherent individual rights.
Take away any one or more of those four elements and you are drifting into autocracy. Add one or more to those four elements and you are drifting into democracy.
Atwood. Superior to all others.--Autocracy declares the divine right of kings; its authority can not be questioned; its powers are arbitrarily or unjustly administered. Democracy is the "direct" rule of the people and has been repeatedly tried without success. Our Constitutional fathers, familiar with the strength and weakness of both autocracy and democracy, with fixed principles definitely in mind, defined a representative republican form of government. They "made a very marked distinction between a republic and a democracy * * * and said repeatedly and emphatically that they had founded a republic."
"By order of the Secretary of War: C.P. Summerall, Major General, Chief of Staff. Official: Lutz Wahl, Major General, The Adjutant General.
This is the best concise comparison of the two terms that I can find at the moment. I suggest that you read it carefully. And the next time that you hear someone demanding democratic government, look carefully to their motives.
I reccommend the following collection of comments on the merits of each as well.
"The government of the absolute majority is but the government of the strongest interests; and when not effectively checked, is the most tyrannical and oppressive that can be devised. [To read the Constitution is to realize that] no free system was ever farther removed from the principle that the absolute majority, without check or limitation, ought to govern."
--John C. Calhoun
:: Mark 1:39 PM [+] ::