Democracy vs Republic – is there a difference? For this blog post I am indebted to Dr. Harold Pease for the inspiration and research that lead to this post.
It will come as a surprise to most modern day Americans that our Founding Fathers universally rejected democracy as a form of government. At first, what you are about to read here will be counter-intuitive to all that you have learned from your government funded education. It will fly in the face of slogans that have been inculcated into your mind for decades. You will have to keep an open mind and be willing to see that the words, “Democracy” and “Republic” do not have the same meaning or concept.
Our Forefathers, who were highly educated and conversant with Greek and Latin, had hoped that future generations would never turn the United States to become a democracy, let alone be responsible for spreading it around the world. The word they purposely and specifically used was “Republic,” which again, is not synonymous with “Democracy.” The word “Democracy” is not in the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights. Even the Pledge of Allegiance is, “to the Republic for which it stands.”
Benjamin Franklin on Democracy vs Republic
Benjamin Franklin defined Democracy as, “Two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”
So why did they reject Democracy? Because it is inherently flawed with the “share the wealth” philosophy. Democracy only works if you have a populace that is willing to share their wealth or a government willing to exert necessary measures to force the sharing of that wealth. Those receiving are quite pleased with getting something for nothing, but are left with low morale. If you do not believe me, inspect for yourselves the quality of lives of those who live exclusively off the dole. On the other side of that coin, those who are forced to “share” their wealth have their rights encroached upon, by direct force or by legislative means, to the detriment of their own labor. Neither side has been give any incentive to produce further. In fact, this incentive has been nullified on both sides of this democratic coin.
19th century author and professor, Alexander Fraser Tyler, wrote The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic. In this classic work, Mr. Tyler wrote, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.”
And how exactly does a Democracy work? If it is with the consent of the governed, as written in The Declaration of Independence, then it would take the form of charity. If forced through unconstitutional legislation or through duress and force (IRS), then we have a tyranny. Moreover, generations grow up either feeling entitled to this form of government aid or disgruntled and resentful of this incursion to their God-given rights under their own Constitution. Eventually, money becomes a highly contested subject and more and more laws need to be initiated to support the arbitrary laws that already exist. Force begets more force, leaving a divided populace in its place. The result is a diminished standard of living, a debased currency for everyone, inflation that actually penalizes the poor more than the rich and an unmotivated workforce as was witnessed in Communist countries in the 20th century.
A Democracy gives us the principles of majority rules, which opens the door to mob rule. It does not protect us from the government’s redistribution of wealth philosophy and the means to enforce their laws at the end of a court, jail time or simply freezing one’s accounts legally. Tell me truthfully, was this the vision of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams? Was this the reason why George Washington risked it all for at Valley Forge or at other life-or-death battles in the American Revolution?
The Benefits of A Republic vs Democracy
A Republic includes frequent elections with options. It also gives place to majority rules, but only to a point. Just as your mother told you growing up, the majority is not always right. A Republic is also based upon Natural, Unalienable Rights that come from a source higher than Man. A Republic believes that certain laws are based on a greater good, unalterable by Man. For example, if murder or infidelity was voted in by a majority, would this be right? Of course not, and this is where a Republic differs from a Democracy. Your vote counts, until it violates the God-given rights of even the minority.
Minority rights are protected from the majority in a Republic. A lynch mob, technically, is a form of Democracy. Everyone voted except for the man being lynched. A Republic rescues this man and him a fair trial with a bona fide judge and witnesses for his defense. In a Republic there is an emphasis on individual differences rather than absolute equality. Such individual differences are seen as a strength in a Republic rather than as a flaw under Democracy, which equates sameness as equality.
Limited government is also a major aspect of a Republic. The government is handcuffed from dominating our lives. There is a list of functions and a clear process for obtaining additional power. More importantly, a Republic maintains a healthy vigilance and guard against the mis-emotions of the masses, which have the power of destroying the natural laws upon which real freedom is based.
Our Founders purposely fought for and created a Republic, not a Democracy. The Constitution, as designed, is the mechanism to ensure we remain a Republic as long as we continue to stay vigilant and protect its integrity. Our role and responsibility as American citizens is to demand from our leaders a strict adherence to that document in order to preserve our liberty, and that of our children’s.