Have You Ever Wondered Why...

by Colonel Dan


The Cowboy Chronicle

July 2006


…many of today’s politicians, from the President down, insist on referring to our form of government as a democracy when we all know the Founders unquestionably created a constitutional republic?  In fact, when establishing America, our Founding Fathers, with their sharp political instinct, clearly avoided unchecked democracy.   As James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution, wrote in "Essay #10" of The Federalist Papers: "... 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."   Why then do modern politicians continually mislead everyone?

Before suggesting what I believe to be the simple answer, let’s review the fundamental concepts of a democracy and a republic.  (The month we celebrate our Declaration of Independence is a perfect time for resurrecting traditionalism and reviewing good old American truth.)

In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through their elected representatives and the law is basically whatever the majority or their elected representatives determine it to be.  Established laws don’t necessarily reflect the restrained objectivity of constitutional law.  They can and often do, as we’ve seen in America, embody the unrestrained subjectivity of political power.  Any imposed restraint is on the individual citizen not the government and rights are considered privileges granted by government.  The real danger there is as I’ve written before—any privilege granted by man (government) can be taken away by man (government).  James Madison described democracy very well when he said, "…there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual."

Now contrast that with a constitutional republic.  John Adams captured the fundamental essence when he said, "You have rights [under a constitutional republic] antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe."

In summary, the law in a democracy is whatever the mob or their elected mobsters aka representatives say it is; unrestrained by a power higher than themselves—the total disregard of our immigration laws by both a mob and many of their elected mobsters being just one of many examples.  In a functioning constitutional republic however, there exists that higher law i.e. a Constitution to which all men must adhere and any restraint imposed by that law is imposed on the government not the governed from whom government derives its limited, specific power.  In other words, the former is based more on the rule of man while the latter is based more on the rule of law.

As a very sharp legal friend characterized it, “In a Constitutional Republic, the government may do only that which it is expressly authorized to do.    A Representative Democracy may do anything the People (or their elected surrogates) wish done, unless expressly forbidden (and there is considerable effort to soften those limits)”

In my view, the unvarnished reason elected officials propagate the illusion that we are a democracy rather than a republic is both simple as well as politically self-serving.  Politicians can clearly get away with much more under a malleable representative democracy than a strong constitutional republic and the ruling elite everywhere always prefers unrestrained over restrained.  

When you buy the illusion, politicians have deceitfully enhanced their authority by disingenuous slight of hand and can seriously flex their muscle without all those pesky little restraints imposed by the Constitution—and folks unwittingly let them get away with it!  However, if they were uncompromisingly held bound to the Founding Father’s original concepts of our republic, they’d be constitutionally constrained and couldn’t conjure up some phony justification for their shenanigans by proclaiming “it’s the will of the people!”   In an honest constitutional republic, the rule of law (Constitution) always trumps the will of the mob and cannot easily be twisted to satisfy personal ambitions or facilitate political schemes.  But such a restrictive leash jerked around the neck of our politicians by a truly enforced Constitution would just never do now would it?

Here’s a suggestion—whenever the chance arises to correct anyone referring to our form of government as a democracy, do it—especially with children and politicians.  I love introducing naive youngsters to stark reality and enjoy watching politicians trying to squirm out of the ambush.  Truth is, I’ve found when talking to most modern politicos about the Constitution, they’ve come to the battle with only about half a basic load of ammunition on board.

Just the view from my saddle… 

Contact Colonel Dan:  coloneldan@bellsouth.net







Dark Canyon Home Page