Opinion

The Constitution Creates a Republic, Not a Democracy

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Posted: Apr 06, 2022 12:01 AM
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The Constitution Creates a Republic, Not a Democracy

Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Democrat leaders speak often of “democracy” in hallowed terms, but rarely, if ever, do they mention, let alone, praise a republican form of government.  President Biden insists “the United States is committed to strengthening our democracy.”  Speaker Pelosi commands the nation to serve as “a symbol of democracy to the world.”  Leader Schumer calls for “systemic democracy reforms . . . to save our democracy.”  Senator Sanders harangues, “democracy must win.” Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez perceives a “very real risk” that democracy will disappear.  In reality, they use the term “democracy” as a cover for what is in fact authoritarian rule.  To them, rights are cognizable only to the extent those rights support their chosen exercise of governing power. 

Leading Democrats advocate rule by their President through executive order without resort to Congress.  They favor elimination of the electoral college as “anti-democratic.”  They favor adding to the number of justices on the Supreme Court those preferred by Democrats until they dilute the conservative majority and render the Court reflective of the will of Congress and no longer independent.  They support speech codes on college campuses to eliminate dissenting conservative views.  They support cancel culture and Big Tech censorship as a means of ensuring that voices dissenting from their orthodoxies are suppressed.  They support expansion of administrative state regulation to circumvent Congress so that climate change and social engineering initiatives may proceed at the will of the executive branch beyond the extent palatable to the American people.  In short in the struggle between state power and individual liberty, they favor biased application of state power (supporting it in violation of rights whenever they favor the ends, and opposing it whenever they oppose the ends).  That bias, or unequal justice, is not new but an outgrowth of the very Hegelian principles of collectivism that drove moves to forcibly sterilize some 60,000 Americans deemed “unfit” during the Progressive Era and created and expanded an administrative state of combined legislative, executive, and judicial powers (what Madison in Federalist Number 47 deemed called tyranny), out of which three-quarters of all federal law is now promulgated.

To our Founding Fathers, the language of democracy spoken by Democrats is the endorsement of precisely the tyranny they intended to prevent.  They well understood that pure democracy, majority rule, was an inherent evil because it forever threatened minority rights, and they meant to prevent pure democracy from taking root in America.  They opposed authoritarianism in all of its permutations, believing, as the Declaration of Independence makes clear, that just governments are instituted for the purpose of protecting individual rights.  Consistent with the foundational principles in the Declaration, the Founding Fathers established a limited federal republic, not a democracy.  In Federalist Number 10, Madison wrote in harmony with Constitution advocates when he warned against “the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority” and when he explained that pure democracy causes government “to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens.”  Democratic forms were to be rejected, wrote Madison, precisely because they “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.”  By contrast, a republican form was the “cure,” he wrote, because it checked the excesses of democracy that otherwise enable irrational passions to become law and run roughshod over individual rights.

It is from this commitment to a limited republic where democratic excesses were countered that we have a Constitution which allows for the direct election of Congress (before 1913 the U.S. Senate was indirectly elected; that ended with the 17thAmendment); but the indirect election of the President (by vote of the Electoral College under Article II, Section 1); and an independent, unelected federal judiciary (appointed for life terms)—each equipped with checks disallowing any to proceed unilaterally or unencumbered. 

As leading Democrats demand more “democracy” – by which they mean an end to the Electoral College, an end to an independent federal judiciary, executive fiat from a directly elected president instead of compliance with the constitutional requirement that all laws originate with Congress, and further expansion and growth of the Administrative State -- they are in fact abandoning the form of government the Constitution prescribes, doing so without resort to constitutional amendment as required by Article V.  That is a monstrous power grab which, itself, deprives the public of the power to consent to the form of government ruling them.  Leading Democrats thus assault the rule of law; they dishonor and disobey the Constitution. 

Their quest for centralized power is achieved under the cover of “democracy.”  Indeed, their call for democracy actually rings hollow upon inspection; it is steeped in insincerity.  Democrats hold to the view that if popularly elected, they may compel adherence to any law they wish to enact without need to abide by constitutional strictures (they thus frequently advocate Biden legislating through executive order and agency rule, not vote by the popularly elected Congress).  Their “democracy” is a veil masking authoritarianism.  Their cabal for pure democracy is an act of legerdemain, a ploy to achieve an authoritarian agenda by duping the electorate.

While the Constitution creates a federal republican form, it also includes a unique enforceable guarantee applicable to the states, assuring that they too shall maintain a republican form.  Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution establishes beyond doubt that the Founding Fathers intended all governments in the United States to be republican in form, not democratic, in order to protect individual sovereignty and liberty against government usurpations of power on behalf of the collective.  Article IV, Section 4 is a clear rejection of collectivism.  That section reads: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican Form of Government . . .” 

James Madison explained in Federalist Number 43 that Article IV, Section 4 ensured “that [the States] shall not exchange republican for anti-republican Constitutions.”  The Founding Fathers understood the “Republican Form of Government” to possess certain irreducible elements, among them a written constitution of enumerated and limited powers; a separation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers such that no two could ever be vested in single hands; and a system of checks whereby each department could encumber the actions of the other thereby maximizing the defense of individual rights to life, liberty, and property. 

The “democracy” advocated by Democrat leaders rejects the Constitution’s separation of powers and checks and balances.  That “democracy” disingenuously seeks replacement of the Constitutionsub silentio, not through Article V amendment, but through discrete power grabs in the form of executive orders that create new law; alterations in the composition of the Supreme Court that deprives the Court of independence and makes it beholden to Congress; and collusion with media and Big Tech to suppress views which challenge the positions of governing elites.  In sum, Democrat leaders are intent on destroying constitutional government to achieve authoritarian rule.