Sunday, November 28, 2004

A Democracy vs. A Republic, Forms of Government

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What is our form of government in the United States of America?

Is America a Republic or a Democracy?

Most don’t or didn’t know, unless educated, and that included me.

Recite in your mind the pledge of allegiance, there lies the answer.

Basic Differences and the definition

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Excerpt:
In both the Direct type and the Representative type of Democracy, The Majority’s power is absolute and unlimited; its decisions are unappealable under the legal system established to give effect to this form of government.

This opens the door to unlimited Tyranny-by-Majority. This was what The Framers of the United States Constitution meant in 1787, in debates in the Federal (framing) Convention, when they condemned the "excesses of democracy" and abuses under any Democracy of the unalienable rights of The Individual by The Majority.

Examples were provided in the immediate post-1776 years by the legislatures of some of the States. In reaction against earlier royal tyranny, which had been exercised through oppressions by royal governors and judges of the new State governments, while the legislatures acted as if they were virtually omnipotent. There were no effective State Constitutions to limit the legislatures because most State governments were operating under mere Acts of their respective legislatures which were mislabelled "Constitutions."

Neither the governors not the courts of the offending States were able to exercise any substantial and effective restraining influence upon the legislatures in defense of The Individual’s unalienable rights, when violated by legislative infringements. (Connecticut and Rhode Island continued under their old Charters for many years.) It was not until 1780 that the first genuine Republic through constitutionally limited government, was adopted by Massachusetts--next New Hampshire in 1784, other States later.

It was in this connection that Jefferson, in his "Notes On The State of Virginia" written in 1781-1782, protected against such excesses by the Virginia Legislature in the years following the Declaration of Independence, saying: "An elective despotism was not the government we fought for . . ." (Emphasis Jefferson’s.)

He also denounced the despotic concentration of power in the Virginia Legislature, under the so-called "Constitution"--in reality a mere Act of that body:


"All the powers of government, legislative, executive, judiciary, result to the
legislative body. The concentrating these in the same hands is precisely the
definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers
will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one. 173 despots
would surely be as oppressive as one. Let those who doubt it turn their eyes on
the republic of Venice."


This topic--the danger to the people’s liberties due to the turbulence of democracies and omnipotent, legislative majority--is discussed in The Federalist, for example in numbers 10 and 48 by Madison (in the latter noting Jefferson’s above-quoted comments).

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