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Republic or Democracy are We?

Updated: Nov 4, 2019

Dear Squire & anyone else that wants to listen in,

Thanks for your thoughtful response to my facebook post today. As you have probably discovered by now, I rarely allow myself to get into debates or elongated conversations on facebook.

But in your case, since I so appreciate your zeal for knowledge and your sincere interest in politics and the welfare of our nation, I’m going to make an exception, but in the form of a blog post if you don’t mind.

As to President Obama’s farewell speech on Tuesday, it has been duly noted by another that he mentioned the word “republic” once, and the word “democracy” and its variants no less than 25 times. This pattern is pretty much in keeping with his tenure as our President over these last 8 years and in my view is not accidental.

Our founding fathers on the other hand held in great disdain democracy as a form of government and majority rule. Thus you will not find the word “democracy” anywhere in the Declaration of Independence or in our Constitution.

Perhaps it might be helpful to note at this point that “democracy” is commonly used to describe both a type and a form of government. As a type of government it means in general that free elections are held periodically etc. But as a form of government it means rule by the majority, which we do not have because we are a republic.

Did Thomas Jefferson see these things differently than John Adams? Well lets let him speak for himself:

“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty nine.” Thomas Jefferson

Benjamin Franklin agreed when he said, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.”

When asked after the Constitutional Convention, whether we would be a Republic or a Monarchy, Benjamin Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

You see the founding fathers knew both from their experience in Europe and their thorough knowledge of history to that point, and their insightful understanding of the depraved nature of man that only a republic (not a democracy) could best protect the citizenry of a given nation from the corruption and oppression that they risked their lives to create in America. But they also knew how fragile it would be and that only if the church did its job alongside the government – could this fragile experiment survive.

I leave you with a quote from Thomas Jefferson and John Adams re: this fragility and necessary marriage of the one institution that can affect the character of a people and the government of that people:

“It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in those is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution.” Thomas Jefferson

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion… Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams

Thankfully Squire you are a significant member of the people of God charged to bring about the only kind of people that can make a republic like ours survive.

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