Monday, 6 March 2006

A republic. If you can keep it

Democracy, as Bill Weddell used to say, is the counting of heads regardless of content. I talked the other day about the importance in a democracy of putting things beyond the vote, so that your life, liberty and your right to pursue your own happiness can't be taken away by the vicissitudes of modern political life in a democracy. In fact, as Walter Williams makes clear, what I was really talking about was the superiority of a republic -- which is just what he says is needed in Iraq, not the democracy they have got.

America, he reminds us, was not founded as a democracy but as a constitutional republic. At the close of Philadelphia's Constitutional Convention in 1787, a Mrs. Powel asked Benjamin Franklin as he emerged from the hall, "Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" responded Franklin: "A republic, if you can keep it." The America the founding fathers deliverd was a constitutional republic, not a democracy. In fact, as Williams affirms, "the word "democracy" appears in neither of [the U.S.'s] founding documents -- the Declaration of Independence nor the U.S. Constitution."

In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. The law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws aren't necessarily based upon reason but power. In other words, democracy is just another form of tyranny -- tyranny of the majority...

In a republican form of government, there is rule of law. All citizens, including government officials, are accountable to the same laws. Government intervenes in civil society to protect its citizens against force and fraud but does not intervene in the cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange.

Democracy, what the Bush administration calls for [in Iraq] , is different.

Sure is. Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting for dinner. A republic allows all to eat their dinner in peace. See here how Williams would set up Iraq.

LINKS: Conflict: The Battle Hymn of the Democracy - Walter Williams
Putting freedom beyond the vote - Peter Cresswell

TAGS: Constitution, Politics, Democracy, Cue Card Libertarianism, Rights, War

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