Our Government — Democracy or Republic?
At the conclusion of the Convention
Benjamin Franklin was asked,
"What have you wrought?" He answered,
". . . a Republic, if you can keep it."
In this section we will explore, briefly, the ideas expressed in many of the common forms of government. However, the real purpose is to show the difference between the democratic form of government which most Americans believe this government was founded upon, and the republican form of government which the government was actually founded upon.
The forms of government discussed here are listed below in alphabetical order. They will be examined in the same order as listed. Special attention, however, will be given to the topics of "Democracy" and "Republic," which will be explored at the end of this section, and in more depth than the others. The reason for this is to show that our Founding Fathers did not establish this American form of government on the principles of democracy but on republican principles. In actuality, our form of government is a blend of both and can be rightly called a "Democratic Republic," although, the emphasis should be placed on republic.
Forms of Government
ANARCHY: Governed by no person or organization. Absolute individual liberty but absolute disorder.
ARISTO-DEMOCRACY: Governed by divided power.
DEMOCRACY: Governed by the majority. The law restricts the people.
DICTATORSHIP: Governed by one person.
FEDERAL: Governed by the States who created the government.
MONARCHY: Governed by a King or Queen, or both together.
OLIGARCHY: Governed by a few or minority.
REPUBLIC: Governed by representatives and based on written law. The law restricts the government.
SOCIALISM: Governed by control of all people and all things.
THEOCRACY: Governed by God.
"The absence of all political government; by extension, Confusion in government. The absence of government; a state of society where there is no law or supreme power." (Bouvier’s)
"The complete absence of government and law. Political disorder and violence. General disorder from lack of government." (Webster’s)
Undisciplined and irresponsible people who wish to destroy government are the ones who create this non-governmental entity. An anarchy will eventually be converted to either a dictatorship, monarchy, or oligarchy, due to one or more people who seek power for selfish interests. There are some cases when the one assuming power has honorable intent and is genuinely concerned for the liberty and welfare of the people. But, this may be considered unusual due to the selfish and proud nature of most men.
"A form of government where the power is divided between the more powerful men of the nation and the people." (Bouvier’s)
An example might be the United States federal government. We have elected officials intimidated by a few special interest people and groups (those who really have the power and make the policies) as we have already discover in this work.
"That form of government in which the people rule. . . . But the multitude cannot actually rule: an unorganic democracy, therefore, one that is not founded upon a number of institutions each endowed with a degree of self-government, naturally becomes a one-man government. The basis of the democracy is equality, as that of the aristocracy is privilege; but equality of itself is no guarantee for liberty, nor does equality constitute liberty. Absolute democracies existed in antiquity and the middle ages; they have never endured for any length of time. On their character, Aristotle’s Politics may be read to the greatest advantage. Lieber, in his Civil Liberty, dwells at length on the fact that mere equality, without institutions of various kinds, is adverse to self-government; and history shows that absolute democracy is anything rather than a convertible term for liberty." (Bouvier’s)
In this form of government, the people, in most cases are led to believe that they are in control of the government, when in reality, it is a dictatorship or an oligarchy. It is traditionally controlled by a few people with special interest. A fuller discussion on the topic of democracy will follow towards the end of this chapter.
"In Roman Law: A magistrate at Rome invested with absolute power. His office continued but for six months." (Bouvier’s)
In a dictatorship the governmental power is absolute and the legislature rests in a single person. This power is usually despotic or tyrannical but there have been instances when some dictators have been known to be benevolent.
"A term commonly used to express a league or compact between two or more states. . . . A union or confederation of sovereign states, created either by treaty, or by the mutual adoption of a federal constitution. . . ." (Bouvier’s)
"Of or formed by a compact; specifically, designating or of a union of states, groups, etc. in which each member agrees to subordinate its power to that of the central authority in common affairs." (Webster’s)
The creation of a federal form of government helps present to the world the appearance of a single state, while the individual states still retain the rights and power of internal regulation and administration for the respective local self-governments. There is no real lessening of sovereignty involved except the waiving of certain powers in conducting independent relations with foreign nations.
"That government which is ruled, really or theoretically, by one man, who is wholly set apart from all other members of the state. . . . According to the etymology of the word, monarchy is that government in which one person rules supreme — alone." (Bouvier’s)
"A government or state headed by a king, queen, or emperor: called absolute (or despotic) when there is no limitation on the monarch’s power, constitutional (limited) when there is such limitation. A hereditary sovereign." (Webster’s)
Usually with a monarchy there is a genetic continuing of succession in the government which can aid in the repression of dangerous and aspiring individuals seeking power. They can often be tyrannical and have a desire for extravagance and an expansion of the kingdom which can lead to greed, military domination and wars.
"The government of a few. A name given to designate the power which a few citizens of a state have usurped, which ought by the constitution to reside in the people. Among the Romans, the government degenerated several times into an oligarchy. . . ." (Bouvier’s)
"Government in which power is in the hands of a few." (Webster’s)
This form of government can be as dangerous and as self-serving as a dictatorship or a monarchy. It can also be very compassionate. But it mostly retaining power within the system, without giving the people much voice in government.
"A commonwealth; that form of government in which the administration of affairs is open to all the citizens. In another sense, it signifies the state, independently of its form of government." (Bouvier’s)
"A state or nation in which the supreme power rests in all the citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives elected directly or indirectly, by them and responsible to them." (Webster’s)
"A government in the republican form; a government of the people; a government by representatives chosen by the people . . . a republican form of government in the constitution means a government in which the people choose, directly or indirectly, the executive. A blending of legislative and executive powers in the same official does not violate the constitutional guarantee." (Bouvier’s)
Where does the power rest in a republican form of government? It rests in a written constitution. Here is where power is limited and the people can retain maximum power to themselves. We will examine this form of government more completely at the end of this chapter.
"Any theory or system of social organization which would abolish, entirely or in great part, the individual effort and competition on which modern society rests, and substitute for it co-operative action, would introduce a more perfect and equal distribution of the products of labor, and would make land and capital, as the instruments and means of production, the joint possession of the members of the community." (Bouvier’s)
"Ownership of exploitable capital and means of production by the government, not by individuals or by private enterprise." (Webster’s)
Elder Ezra Taft Benson said, speaking of socialism: "It is simply governmental ownership and management of the essential means for production and distribution of goods." (The Red Carpet, p. 66.) This principle of socialism was discussed in previous chapter more fully.
"A species of government which claims to be immediately directed by God." (Bouvier’s)
"Literally, the rule of a state by God or a god. Government of priests claiming to rule with divine authority." (Webster’s)
There are various forms of government. As we examine them we find that there are really only two. These two are: 1) A theocracy, or rule by God; it is not man who decides on this form of government, it is God. 2) All the rest, which are ruled by man. More will be said about theocracies towards the end of this book.
Democracy — Spectacles of Turbulence
In May, of 1787, Edmund Randolph of Virginia told the assembled members of the Constitutional Convention that the purpose they had come together was "to provide a cure for the evils under which the United States labored; that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and trials of democracy. . . ." (The New American, June 30, 1986, p. 4.)
In The Federalist Papers, No. 10, James Madison declared a similar belief in which he said,". . . 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."
Samuel Adams was well know as an outspoken man and one who did not run from a fight. On this critical issue he is quoted as saying: "Remember, Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself! There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide." (Ibid.)
These are pretty strong words from some of our founders regarding a form of government we pride ourselves in possessing. Could it be that they were wrong; or could it be that we have been led to believe as we do, and that they were right? Lets examine the issue further.
Probably one of our more liberal founders, but still an ardent supporter of freedom and independent liberty, was Alexander Hamilton. He had these words on the subject:
"It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity. (Ibid.)
"We are now forming a republican government. Real liberty is not found in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments. If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy (or some other form of dictatorship)." (The Unseen Hand, p. 35.)
Here we have it. A republican government, not a democracy, was what the founders wanted. The difference was very clear in the days of 1787. The people, and the Founding Fathers in particular, knew that there was a vast difference in a republican and democratic government. The people in this nation knew the distinction until about 1900, when shortly thereafter we started hearing the cry from President Woodrow Wilson, "Make the world safe for democracy." John Dewey’s influence on public education also helped establish this philosophy which was socialistic and scientifically based. From those points on, the American people have been led to believe what was not intended. John F. McManus said, "We sing the Battle Hymn of The Republic, not "The Battle Hymn of the Democracy." He also observed that, "Perhaps the most pervasive bit of misinformation loose in the land today is the belief that the United States is and always has been a democracy. It is not! When we pledge allegiance to our nation’s flag, we also pledge allegiance to ‘the Republic for which it stands.’" (The Birch Log, January 19, 1984.)
For those who are concerned about the subject, there seems to be a program of changing the publics views on the type of government we really were intended to possess. Let’s take a look at what may be going on without our knowledge. In the United States Army Training Manual, 1928, a definition of democracy is given:
"A government of the masses. Authority derived through mass meeting or any 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 it be based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequence.
"Results in demagogism, license, agitation, discontent, anarchy.
However, in the Soldier’s Guide, 1952, another definition or idea is presented: "Because the United States is a democracy, the majority of the people decide how our government will be organized and run — and that includes the Army, Navy and Air Force. The people do this by electing representatives, and these men and women then carry out the wishes of the people." (The Unseen Hand, p.34.)
Why, may we ask, is there such a distinct difference in both definitions? Is someone trying to convince us that a democratic form of government is good for us even though our Founding Fathers have stated otherwise. The conclusion that the honest seeker comes to is that perhaps Satan is at work again.
When people lie to you, they often get caught in their own trap. Look at the second definition given. It states ". . . the majority of the people decide. . .and that includes the Army, Navy and Air Force." Question: Do the military personal decide who will be their leaders and how they will be governed? Those who have been in the military know differently.
Now let’s take a short quote from Karl Marx and his Communist Manifesto: "We have seen . . . that the first step in the revolution by the working class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle of democracy." (Communist Manifesto, Henry Regnery Company, 1954, pp. 35-36.)
Why does he want to "win the battle of democracy" if it is good for us and bad for communism? Or, perhaps, is it really bad for us and good for communism?
James Madison knew it was dangerous to the people. He said, "In all cases where a majority are united by a common interest or passion, the rights of the minority are in danger!" (The Unseen Hand, p. 35; The Freeman, October 1981, p. 621.) That is why laws and amendments passed have to be passed by two-thirds or three-fourth vote instead of a simple majority, so that a simple majority cannot take control of government.
This was one of the objections to the ratification of the Constitution and in particular Article Five of the document. In the debates in Virginia during the Ratifying Convention (5-6 June 1788) a Mr. Lee of Westmorland gave some very convincing arguments in favor of a simple majority. He realized that if it took three-fourths to pass a law then it would only take one-fourth to defeat it. (Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, 1986, pp. 580-583.) When the issue is thoroughly studied and understood it will be discovered that it was intended that a minority could kill dangerous legislation instead of having a simple majority pass it. This was to protect the minority of the people from the power of the majority.
One type of dangerous legislation that the people need to protect themselves from is that of improper and over taxation. This was a major issue that our colonists had with King George. During the times of George Washington there was a British professor named Alexander Fraser Tyler who had an understanding of this danger:
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can exist only until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess (liberal gift) out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy, always to be followed by a dictatorship." (The Unseen Hand, p. 36.)
Now, does this sound much like the fiscal problem we have in our government spending programs today? Finances have ever been and will ever be a major issue, if not the most important one, that the people have to consider. This is why our Congress, the representatives of the people, were to make financial laws. They were beholding to the people. But with the passing of the Seventeenth Amendment, the Senate now can propose spending legislation because they are chosen by the people and not the states. Cicero, the great Roman Political Philosopher once said, "A legislative majority may pass laws that contradict the natural law, but "these no more deserve to be called laws than the rules a band of robbers might pass in their assembly." (Quoted by Stephen Pratt in Freedom in the 90's, p. 5.)
In this discussion on democracies, it has been found that their form of government is "incompatible with personal security." They "have ever been spectacles of turbulence." Their "very character was tyranny," "results in mobocracy." With them the "rights of the minority are in danger." Democracy "collapses over a loose fiscal policy, always to be followed by a dictatorship," which may be the reason it is a form of government favored by socialistic communism. Oscar Wilde, a nineteenth -century author, penned this clever play-on words about the dangers of a democracy: "Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people." (The New American, June 30, 1986, p. 5.) John McManus makes the following assertion:
"Democracy . . . is a system which allows a majority to rule with no brake on its activity other than whim. The majority may spring from all the people, or from the elected representatives of the people, or from appointed officials such as our nation’s supreme Court. If the majority is not subject to the restraint embodied in a fixed rule of law such as our nation’s Constitution, the rule of men quickly takes over. In short order, tyranny is the consequence, as history so clearly shows." (The Birch Log, January 19, 1984.)
In his booklet entitled, The History of World Revolution, the Duke of Northumberland (1931), made the following observation about democracies: "The adoption of Democracy as a form of Government by all European nations is fatal to good Government, to liberty, to law and order, to respect for authority, and to religion, and must eventually produce a state of chaos from which a new world tyranny will arise." (Ibid.)
Note his wording, "new world tyranny." This sounds much like, "New World Order." It is the supposition of this book that the New World Order is a form of tyranny and a program for bondage inspired by Satan himself and that changing government from a republic to a democracy places us in his hands for his evil purposes.
It can be easily seen that our Founding Fathers never intended a democratic form of government. If they did they would have founded one and made reference to it. No where are such references found. To help make this point, Thomas Jefferson in his third inaugural address, referred several times to a republican form of government but did not refer to a democracy at any time. Also, the word democracy does not appear in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States or any of the original constitutions of our fifty states. Democracy is not mentioned in the Constitution but "Republican Form of Government" is. Lets read what it says in Article IV, Section 4 of this document: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence."
We see then, that it is a "Republican Form of Government" that we are to be guaranteed, not a democracy. There is a difference between the two and Chief Justice John Marshall (U.S. Supreme Court, 1801-1835), knew the difference, and he expressed it in these words: "Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos." (Ibid.) And as Dr. Benjamin Rush, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, said, as he quoted a Swiss gentleman: "Democracy is the devil’s own government." (Quoted in Building Faith With the Book of Mormon. pp. 89-90.)
Republic — Best of Man’s Governments
It was President Woodrow Wilson who tooted the horn to the tune of, "Make the world safe for democracy." Others got on the same bandwagon and started playing the same song while the Battle Hymn of The Republic, began to be heard less and less.
In his talk, The Constitution A Heavenly Banner, which was later published in booklet form, President Ezra Taft Benson has this to say about the relationship of a representative-republican form of government and a democracy: "The principle of representation means that we have delegated to an elected official the power to represent us. The Constitution provides for both direct representation and indirect representation. Both forms of representation provide a tempering influence on pure democracy." (CHB, pp. 21-22.)
As we have learned in our discussion on democracy, that form of government does need tempering. Alexander Hamilton once remarked, "We are a Republican Government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of democracy." (The New American, June 30, 1986, p. 4.) As has been reviewed, democracies do contain extremes, turbulence, and are very unstable.
At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, "What have you wrought?" And he has been credited with answering, ". . . a Republic, if you can keep it." With this answer, Benjamin Franklin not only signified what form of government was created but also its importance. In Cleon Skousen’s excellent book on constitutional history, The Making of America, he points out that there are three kinds of republics:
"1. The ‘unitary’ republic is one in which all power is vested in the central government. Great Britain is a unitary republic with all power centered in the Parliament.
"2. A ‘confederation of states’ republic is one which grants very little power to the central government but reserves nearly all power in the local political units or the states. This is what happened under the American Articles of Confederation, which almost caused the states to lose the Revolutionary War. During the American Civil War, the Southern states also tried to use a ‘confederacy.’
"3. A people’s ‘constitutional’ republic is sometimes called a ‘federal’ republic or ‘democratic’ republic. This system is based on the supreme will of the people, which is expressed in a written constitution. It was invented by the American Founding Fathers. This American system divides power vertically and horizontally and assigns to each level of government those responsibilities which can be most efficiently and economically administered there. It proved to be the soundest system of government ever devised by man." (The Making of America, p. 265.)
One of the most popular of the Founding Fathers and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, said that a republican form of government works best and that government should be divided among various levels. In a letter to Joseph C. Cabell, February 2, 1816, he wrote:
"The way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, law, police, and administration of which concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body." (GFG, p. 290; AEHDT, p. 134.)
James Madison, the one credited with the title of "Father of the Constitution," said that a republican government is the best of all governments and the most perfect. Lets read his words:
"No government of human device and human administration can be perfect; that . . . which is the least imperfect is therefore the best government; that the abuses of all other governments have led to the preference of republican government as the best of all governments, because the least imperfect. . . ."(PPNS, p. 111, from The Complete Madison, p. 49.)
Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher, had much the same sentiments about its perfection and once wrote that, "The Republican form of government is the highest form of government; but because of this it requires the highest type of human nature - a type nowhere at present existing." (The New American, June 30, 1986, p. 4.)
The second President of the LDS Church, Brigham Young, had a lot to say about our government and the fact that it is a republic. He had some very interesting observations in regard to the relationship of a theocracy and a republic. On one occasion he asked a question and then offered an answer to that same question: "What is a true Republican government? is easily answered. It is a government or institution that is perfect — perfect in its laws and ordinances, having for its object the perfection of mankind in righteousness." (JD, 7:10.) He then went on to say:
"Can any temporal means be adopted to save them [inhabitants of the United States] from the vortex of ruin into which they are fast approaching — a doom which they never can avert without sincere repentance? Yes, there is seemingly a human policy, if adopted, that would snatch them from destruction. What is it? Let the people rise en masse to lay the foundation of a wholesome independent, free. . . . Republican government — a government which, if carried out, will be perfect in itself." (Ibid, p. 11.)
Jefferson, in his First Inaugural Address, and at other times, said that he believed in preserving this true structure of government and that it was the true form of government for the preservation of liberties. His feelings were that the people, not the government, were the best ones suited to safeguard their own freedoms. As we put a few of these quotes together, we have the following:
"I do, . . . with sincere zeal, wish an inviolable preservation of our present federal Constitution, according to the true sense in which it was adopted by the states, that in which it was advocated by its friends, and not that which its enemies apprehended . . . and I am not for transferring all the powers of the states to the general government, and all those of that government to the executive branch. (The Real Thomas Jefferson, p. 460.)
"Governments are more or less republican as they have more or less of the elements of popular election and control in their composition; and believing, as I do, that the mass of citizens is the safest depository of their own rights, and especially that the evils flowing from the duperies [being duped] of the people are less injurious than those from the egoism of their agents, I am a friend to that composition of government which has in it the most of this ingredient. (Ibid, p. 608.)
"The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property, and in their management. (Ibid, p. 609.)
"Modern times have the single advantage . . . of having discovered the only device by which [men’s equal] rights can be secured, to wit: government by the people, acting not in person but by representatives chosen by themselves. . . . (Ibid, p. 610.)
"From the moment that to preserve our rights a change of government became necessary, no doubt could be entertained that a republican form was most consonant with reason, with right, with the freedom of man, and with the character and situation of our fellow citizens. To the sincere spirit of republicanism are naturally associated the love of country [and] devotion to its liberty, its rights, and its honor. (Ibid, p. 607.)
"I conscientiously believe that governments founded in [republican principles] are more friendly to the happiness of the people at large, and especially of a people so capable of self-government as ours." (Ibid, p. 608.)
The Constitution of the United States is written law and is the basis of our republican form of government. President John Taylor, like his predecessor Brigham Young, spoke these words in the conference of October, 1872:
"The government of the United States is what is called a republic. In a form of government of this kind the foundation of all law, power and authority is the voice or will of the people; that is the genius of the government. It is based upon a written constitution granting unto the legislature power to do thus and so, and to go no further; and while they who make and administer the laws confine themselves within the limits of that constitution, their acts are what is called constitutional. When they go beyond that, their acts are called unconstitutional, that is, they deprive the people of certain rights guaranteed to them by the written compact that they have entered into. . . ." (JD, 15:212.)
When our Founding Fathers established this republic, it was not their intentions that government should rule, nor the people themselves rule us. It was their intention to have the people, following biblical principles, rule themselves. It was also their intent that the Constitution and our republic, would protect the people’s rights to do so while putting restrictions on the government itself and any body of officials therein.
Democracies have been repeatedly tried throughout history without long-lasting success, as the serious student of governmental history can attest. Our Founding Fathers were as familiar with the weakness of the democratic form of government as they were with the serious drawbacks of a Monarchy.
In closing this discussion on forms of government, let’s quote a few more words of John F. McManus on this very important subject:
"In a republic, the law’s purpose must be not only to empower government to carry out its proper functions, but also to limit it strictly to just those functions. It follows necessarily that the law must prevent the people from destroying their own unalienable rights in a state of ignorance, confusion and passion — as did the people of Rome when demagogic leaders persuaded them to let the Roman republic be destroyed.
"Americans have been led away from the principles established at great cost by our nation’s founders. The result is an already massive and ever-growing central government — a looming tyranny from within. . . . This is a republic, not a democracy. Let’s keep it that way!" (The Birch Log, January 19, 1984.)
Our Founding Fathers formed a distinctive government, one that utilized the representative aspects of a Republic. Emphatically and repeatedly, they emphasized that they had founded, not a democracy, but a Republic. To function as a democracy, we must abandon or ignore the Constitution.