Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Republic or Democracy?

Democracy is rule of the commoners (greek et. http://bit.ly/blCquw ), Republic is the rule of a body or council of representatives (latin Res Publica http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Res_publica ). The founders desired neither: America is supposed to be ruled by law.

John Adams, in his influential book, Thoughts on Government, said:
"As good government, is an empire of laws, how shall your laws be made? In a large society, inhabiting an extensive country, it is impossible that the whole should assemble, to make laws: The first necessary step then, is, to depute power from the many, to a few of the most wise and good." ( http://bit.ly/b3G6D6 )

Thomas Payne, in Common Sense, says this: "If the colony continue increasing, it will become necessary to augment the number of representatives, and that the interest of every part of the colony may be attended to, it will be found best to divide the whole into convenient parts, each part sending its proper number: and that the elected might never form to themselves an interest separate from the electors, prudence will point out the propriety of having elections often: because as the elected might by that means return and mix again with the general body of the electors in a few months, their fidelity to the public will be secured by the prudent reflection of not making a rod for themselves. And as this frequent interchange will establish a common interest with every part of the community, they will mutually and naturally support each other, and on this, (not on the unmeaning name of king,) depends the strength of government, and the happiness of the governed."

For an exegesis on the authority of Government, see Lex Rex by Rev. Samuel Rutherford.

The founders engineered a system which attempted to correctly delegate the God-given authority of government. The Declaration of Independence states their intent: "whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." The authority of government lies with the people.

So, what form of government seemed most likely to be successful to the founders? The Constitution states: "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives." Throughout the constitution, the rule of law is enforced over the several governing bodies. By essence of the legislative body being representative as opposed to committee of the whole, we are a republic. But, the elected, representative nature of that body insures that it remains accountable to the people, and through the people, the law.

History shows us an example of true democracy: the French Revolution. Americans operated under the authority of law, the French under the authority of the people. Any authority other than that of the people was condemned. Things stabilized only when Napoleon Bonaparte returned the country essentially to a monarchy.

So whether you want to call it a 'Democratic Republic', a 'Representative Republic', a 'Constitutional Republic', a 'representative federation of sovereign states' or a combination thereof, if you recognize the rule of law, the representative nature of congress, and the (obvious) delegated nature of our government, you're at least in general agreement with the founders.

I believe the correct terminology would be "constitutional representative republic", but the continental congress never adopted specific nomenclature.

The constitution and founders recognize that the authority of government comes through the people, ultimately from God. It makes provisions for the people to use their authority to change the laws. When a judge denies the will of the people, he's overstepping his authority. Constitutionally, a judge is supposed to enforce the rule of law and uphold the authority of the commoners against the tyranny of the few. Where the people are in support of their law, and it conforms to ratified federal law, no federal branch is justified in questioning it.

Now, I'm not a constitutional attorney--this is my unofficial understanding of history, literature (some of which is still on my 'to read:' list) and law. I'm not infallible. :-)

I am, however, now a precinct delegate in my township, the lowest elected position available. My first County Convention is on Thursday.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The God of peace be with you all.

In Christ, Fidem Servate,