And to the Republic, for which it stood
I want to start this article with an excerpt from the notes of Dr. James McHenry, a delegate at the Constitutional Convention. On page 618 of the American Historical Review (vol. 11, 1906), there was an anecdote that reads: “A lady asked Dr. Franklin; “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” replied the Doctor (Franklin), “if you can keep it.”
Clearly, I understand that there is much confusion over the different forms of government options. This confusion should come as little surprise to the rest of us. After all, in 2014, the National Science Foundation found that 1 in 4 American adults do not even know that the earth circles the sun (Johnson, 2014). This is what we have to work with, my friends. If our government-run education cannot get the citizenry to understand basic concepts, how can we hope to educate them on complex ideas such as economics and government? Perhaps that is why people continue to call us a Democracy.
Let’s address that. A lot of Republicans and even some Democrats profess democracy. They want to defend democracy. They cherish their democracy. Some seem willing to go to war against any nation on the planet to ensure democracy. The only problem with that is the fact that we are not a Democracy.
Many people do not realize this, but the Constitution of the United States was set up to protect the people AGAINST democracy. This is because democracy ends up being mob rule and generally tyrannical. Most thinking people would typically recognize this as a bad thing. Let me take a moment to remind everyone about something John Adams told John Taylor on December 17th, 1814. He said, “Remember, Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a Democracy yet, that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than Aristocracy or Monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history.”
That is a warning we should all heed, but these are not new ideas. The proof of this has been known for thousands of years. Plato, who lived from about 427 to 347 BCE, recognized that Oligarchy degenerates into a democracy, where freedom is the supreme good, but freedom is also slavery (Mills, 2007). He noted that the lower class grows bigger and bigger. The poor become the winners. Diversity is supreme, and people are free to do what they want and live how they want. People can even break the law if they so choose. Does that sound eerily familiar? Plato even noted the similarity of democracy to anarchy and opined that democracy ultimately leads to anarchy and then tyranny (Mills, 2007). He said that the democratic man is consumed with unnecessary desires. This sounds a lot like the United States!
On the other hand, Plato describes necessary desires as desires that we have out of instinct or desires that we have in order to survive. Instead, the democratic man takes great interest in everything he can buy with his money. Once again, Plato was spot on!
Plato recognized that democracy degenerates into anarchy and tyranny where no one has discipline, and society exists in chaos. Democracy is taken over by the longing for freedom, but in a nation of new anarchy, the champion who experiences power will become a tyrant (Mills, 2007). Once again, spot on.
What Plato is referring to is a recognized cycle. Democracy to anarchy to tyranny/dictatorship (possibly socialism or communism). Of course, we know that Plato was correct because we have seen this cycle numerous times throughout history. Once again, this idea is thousands of years old, so I am always a little confused when people today try to justify or even defend such ideas to the contrary. Perhaps this is yet another hit on our education system, but I digress.
Only the naïve believe that this cycle is either invalid or correctable. Perhaps this is a perfect opportunity to remind you of Tytler’s Cycle. The lesson that we pull away from this is that Oligarchy, Democracy, Anarchy, and Tyranny are all essentially bad because they are a part of a degenerative process that ultimately leaves the people defenseless and often dead or enslaved. This is exactly why the Founding Fathers designed our system around a REPUBLIC as outlined in Article 4 Section 4 of the Constitution.
“But what about a Representative Democracy?”
Despite what even some college textbooks might suggest, we were never intended to be a representative democracy. Representative democracy is a system of government in which all eligible citizens vote on representatives to pass laws for them. It is true that in the U.S., that is pretty close to what happens anymore, but that is not how it was supposed to be.
The reason is best explained by Marvin Simkin, who in 1992 wrote the following statement in the Los Angeles Times: “Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote (Simkin, 2008).”
Remember what Doctor Huyler said about individualism? That “it sees human beings as self-governing sovereigns, free to do as they please, and bear responsibility for the choices they make. They are obligated only to leave their neighbors free to do as much (Huyler, 2017).” This is important to remember – always.
The truth is that not all people voluntarily do the right thing for the right reasons. In a natural setting, people will do what is right for themselves. The human factor is at play and needs to be recognized in this debate. Are there some who voluntarily do the right thing? Of course, and I am not discounting that, but if I (or our Founders, for that matter) trusted that people would do the right thing either with or without rule of law, or even the principles of ’76 or if there were any evidence to suggest that it would be a benefit to rely on such a belief, then we would not need cops, a military, laws or even firearms.
A Republic is a state in which the people and their elected representatives hold supreme power. Our Founders took it a step further to something called the Constitutional Republic. A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people, and they must govern to the existing constitution. Generally speaking, representatives exercise power on behalf of the represented. This is because not everyone WANTS to be involved in the political process, and they have the right not to participate if they so choose. Some would rather be artists, musicians, teachers, etc.
Of course, a constitution is a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state is acknowledged to be governed. In other words, everyone involved in the project has agreed to abide by a predefined set of principles, and those who find themselves representing others must govern according to that agreement. The responsibility is on the shoulders of the represented (you) to ensure that those fundamental principles are being followed. This is usually where term limits and things of this nature come in handy.
In modern republics, the executive is legitimized both by a constitution and by popular suffrage. By the way, suffrage is a vote given in deciding a controverted question or electing a person for an office or trust. People essentially decide collectively who gets to be executive for a while. Ideally, though, everyone gets a turn at public service.
In a democracy, however, the mob rules, leadership corrupts, and there are those who can and do break the law as they so choose with minimal (if any) corrective action. This is obviously a bad thing, as demonstrated numerous times almost every single day. Again, democracy leads to anarchy which is similar to democracy but is executed to a much greater degree. This, too, is obviously a bad thing.
Jefferson wrote in 1825 to William Branch Giles of “a vast accession of strength from their younger recruits, who, having nothing in them of the feelings or principles of ’76, now look to a single and splendid government of an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions, and monied incorporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures, commerce, and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry.”
Note the phrase principles of ’76. This is a key piece of information in understanding my point. If you miss this, you will miss my point entirely. Think of the principles of ’76 as the vision. Jefferson is talking about the rise of tyranny via those in business that do not follow the vision (the list of principles laid out) as the guideline for our society. You have to understand that it was not government or even the corporation that became corrupt. Instead, it was individuals in government that were being paid for by private businesses and banks that became corrupt. This is very similar to the idea that it was not the list of principles that failed us, it was the people tasked with adhering to and protecting that list that failed us.
That being said, it should be understood that I am all about free market capitalism as long as those who participate in such a system abide by the principles of ’76… like the rest of us should. Respect for your fellow man; not infringing upon the rights of another; conducting business in an ethical manner, etc.
And there it is; the word Ethics. I am not talking about moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or conduct. Morals will vary depending on too many factors, such as religious background. These types of ethics needed to be replaced with something that everyone from every religion (or not) could or would agree upon. That left us with Constitutional ethics or what we can now call the Principles of ’76.
So with the right definition in mind, ask yourself a few questions. Are all businesses ethical? Would you want a business that utilizes unethical business practices to operate in your community? Would you want them to be dominant in your community? Would a business without governing law based on the principles of ’76 operate in an ethical manner on its own? Does the government without the principles of ’76 operate in an ethical manner? Can you truly love, support, defend, or exercise such principles if you do not know them?
If you answered with an unhesitant or unqualified “yes” to any of these questions, then great! Democracy would be great for you. If you said no or were forced to qualify an answer in some way, shape or form, pat yourself on the back because you have your feet planted firmly in the realm of reality. We are faced with a problem. However, we cannot fix a problem unless it is properly identified.
I choose the Constitutional Republic because there are fewer surprises and/or excuses about not knowing, and it is literally the furthest step away from tyranny and/or dictatorship. Everyone tasked with authority swears an oath to that list of principles. A breach of those principles is more easily identifiable by those who provide the check and balance (the people). The rules of play are open, and those coming into the game late can make no mistake about what those principles or rules are.
Can the same be said for other forms of government? Obviously not, and democracy is showing itself to be exactly as Plato described it over 2000 years ago, and we can clearly see what a free-market operating without the principles of ’76 can really do. The vision is key. This should scare you because that also means that anarchy is on the way (and has already shown its face). And while it will likely be short-lived, a true dictatorship will follow shortly after. Similarly, you should know that a dictator could deliberately usher in anarchy and chaos to expedite that transition.
If you do not like the government monopoly, then you need to understand that government monopoly is the result of government under a democracy. If you believe in the power of your spending dollar, then you are on the right track but understand that we are currently living in something we could or should call a corporatocracy. This changes a few things.
Can you imagine a world where corporations were free to run without a check or balance or where other corporations were tasked to regulate ethics? There are millions of people in America who advocate such a system. I would invite you to think hard about your country ruled by those not harnessed by the principles of ’76. The fact is that The Factory Act of 1819, the Factory Act of 1833, the Factory Act of 1844, the Factory Act of 1847, the Factory Act of 1850, or even more basic ideas such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act simply would not exist. These acts did not come about because businesses or governments did the right thing in regard to their fellow humans or countrymen. Instead, they came about because corporations tried to exploit their fellow countrymen (and women) for the sake of money, and regardless of the health of their workers, the constitution, the environment, their community, or anything else for that matter, so the PEOPLE stood up to make the change.
Think about the ramifications of insider trading. Think about Halliburton, which has been accused of covering up violations of corruption laws, over-billing the U.S. army for food and oil supplies, mismanaging waste, endangering employees, endangering National Guard members by unknowingly exposing them to hazardous chemicals, and the lawsuits over oil spills said to be the result of careless and unsafe practices (AP, 2006)(10 Most Unethical Business Practices, 2015). Are these things being pursued under democracy?
Better yet, let us look at Monsanto. Imagine this company operating unimpeded. Of course, they have reached a point where few can do little to stop them anyway. Regardless, Monsanto, the same entity that created Agent Orange, is a private company making horrible weapons, contaminating the food supply with GMO foods, and owns roughly 95% of seed patents today (CBS, 2009). In fact, it could be argued that they are destroying the little farmer and the health of most Americans, and they sure do not seem to care much about that. Yet, there are those who want corporate rule.
Of course, it is not just my opinion. Confidential Monsanto reports detailing the company’s cutthroat tactics for squashing smaller competitors and controlling the seed market have already been exposed (AP: Monsanto Strong-Arms Seed Industry, 2016). And besides being voted the most evil company in the world year after year for their unethical practices and borderline illegal business tactics, this is a great example of why we would not want a system controlled by unimpeded corporations and why perhaps we should take note of corporations and banks playing a part in government decisions (Adams, 2016). Without a check and balance, this sufficiently powerful private corporation would become its own government, similar to Panama under Manuel Noriega, for example.
Example after example. Fact after fact. Still, the problems persist. Why? Well, Monsanto is thriving because people continue to buy their stuff (sometimes forced to) and because they crush their competition via unethical practices. Other corporations buy their stuff and serve it up to you because it is cheaper and because you choose to buy it without examining the source. So who is really at fault?
Keep in mind that this is happening in a nation filled to the brim with laws and loopholes (democracy). Now imagine a huge corporation with zero oversight, not a shred of checks or balances, and only laws that THEY have created. How does that end for you or your community? Does this sound remotely positive?
Let me paint a picture for you and ask you three simple questions. Imagine Monsanto teaming up with Halliburton and being backed up by Dyncorp. Let’s say that these three operate in your nation without any real oversight. You get to figure out a way to harness them. Which form or system do you prefer now?
#1 – The system where they can pay off the right officials to brush their recognized unethical behavior under the rug,
#2 – A system where they can operate with impunity and do whatever they want regardless of what it does to you or your property,
#3 – A system where they must agree upon a certain set of principles before opening up an operation and CAN be held responsible if harmful deeds have been discovered.
If you chose option number three, then know that the Constitutional Republic wins again! And let me make this perfectly clear, a constitutional republic is not about one man governing another. If that is your perspective on it, then you have some serious studying to do. I do not know about you, but it makes me feel better to know that those I associate with generally agree upon the same standards and principles that I do. We can be extremely diverse, but we must agree to the rules of the game before we play.
Thankfully, the constitution on which this nation was founded is the best of all three worlds (anarcho-capitalism/democracy/republic). The constitutional republic allows for the spirit of anarcho-capitalism (such as with a free market), but it is based on and ruled by agreed-upon principles that are derived from the democratic process. It allows us to live as we want as long as we do not infringe on someone else’s rights. Finally, it provides a set of standards on which everyone must agree. This creates unification against those who infringe upon those principles in any way whatsoever, be it a rogue corporation or an invading nation.
Neither democracy nor anarcho-capitalism alone provides these measures. At least not without an unbelievable amount of qualification or circumstantial justification. At the end of the day, I do not trust strangers, big businesses, banks, dictatorships, or those who try to tell me how wholesome they are. It is the human factor I do not trust. When someone says “trust me,” I tend to put up my guard. Under the Constitutional Republic, I have a chance. I just do not see that same chance for most under other forms.
All that being said, today, it is understood (and I agree) that we do NOT have the Constitutional Republic as promised, agreed upon, and lined out in the constitution. This is easily identifiable. Unfortunately, many of those who are tasked with enforcing the principles of ’76 are unaware of all of this, and proponents of other systems look at this fact as a failure. It is not a failure of the principles! It is just ignorance. Again, the constitution did not fail us. It is we who failed the constitution.
To clarify, the fault does not rest on the principles. Instead, the fault is in the hands of the people who have agreed upon those principles but have ignored them. It places fault on those responsible for education (government). That does not make the system any less ideal. I suggest that…
Liberty is the destination. The Declaration was the reason. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are how we get there. Just because some have screwed up the directions, scribbled on the map, and gotten themselves lost doesn’t mean the map is bad or that the destination is wrong.
However, just as we cannot get 1 in 4 American adults to understand that the earth circles the sun, we also cannot force people to know or love the constitution. Nonetheless, the responsibility of protection falls on our shoulders. This is true regardless of whether we know it or not. The level of ignorance one has determines their outcome.
Of course, this brings up a couple of great questions. The first one that I would like you to ask is, “Exactly what do governments or corporations have to gain by keeping the masses ignorant of some of these basic facts?” This one is simple, so I will answer it here.
Understand that ignorant people are easier to mislead and are less likely to examine things placed before them by so-called experts. This is because there is less context to pull from, to begin with. Therefore, anything that can be sold as reasonable can become their facts. Furthermore, without the necessary context and information, people are much more likely to act upon feelings and irrational thoughts. This is why modern media, modern advertising techniques (subconscious manipulation), and so on are so effective. For more on this, look into astroturfing.
Furthermore, if you are distracted by hatred for an enemy or boogieman that keeps you preoccupied with examining certain truths, you are less likely to look around at other potentially upsetting situations or causes. Remember that emotion drives bias, which is why division tactics are often emotional triggers. These tactics could include things like race, religion, or certain symbols.
So when you add those two elements together, not only are the ignorant going to believe something an authority sells them, but they will be too distracted by the problems being shoved down their throat to even think about spending energy trying to discover other truths. Factor in the idea that challenging the narrative they have come to believe or rely on only solidifies their inaccurate position, and you have one solid ignorant soldier for your cause.
I will repeat the following phrase a million times before I die, “Question with boldness, EVERYTHING… including your own conclusions.” Some of what you are being told may be accurate. Some of it may not be. Some of what you have been led to believe merely distracts you from a greater truth. Sure, some of it was the truth. But was it the whole truth?
This is similar to how repeating Our Democracy has led many to believe that is what we are. The result of believing this was more power for the government. Now, ask a few people what the real difference between democracy and a republic is. You will find that they have never really even considered it. I am suggesting that they have never been told. Of course, they never questioned that word in their Pledge of Allegiance either. Scary stuff.