ACH Study Groups
Ben & Fran Gilmore – Cofounders
7659 Gingerblossom Drive
Citrus Heights, CA 95621
April 8, 2016
This is a letter to our friends –
Democracies & Republics
Please pause, consider, and ponder – democracies and republics – What are they? When and why does each work and fail?
From Webster’s 1828:
Democracy – Government by the people; a form of government, in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of the people collectively, or in which the people exercise the powers of legislation.
Republic – A … state in which the exercise of the sovereign power is lodged in representatives elected by the people. In modern usage, it differs from a democracy …, in which the people exercise the powers of sovereignty in person.
In colonial New England, village limits were determined by the distance to the meeting house. All the village business was done in village meetings by majority rule. Because of the limited distance and numbers, every citizen was aware of the fruit of his vote. The result of a good decision was apparent to everyone. Likewise, poor decisions produced poor results, for which the majority had to take responsibility. In a way, it was self-policing. In such communities, democracy works.
On the other hand, when the village grows, the majority is less aware of the results, thus less accountable. Majority rule can become “tyranny of the majority” or mob-rule. Two wolves and a lamb voting about dinner. Democracy fails in larger groups.
Republics (larger groups) elect representatives from smaller groups and send them to “exercise the powers of sovereignty.” In such groups, representatives can speak and defend the minorities they represent. Our founders wisely chose to set our civil-government firmly upon a republic framework.
All that to say this – – We often slip into majority-rule thinking. For example, we are concerned about the number of Americans who vote for the President. Americans don’t vote for the President, we vote for representatives to our state delegation, who vote for president.
Think about it – What is his job title? He is NOT the president of Americans! He is the President of the UNITED STATES. He is president of a group of sovereign states – a republic.
Nothing exists without a set of rules to govern it. Guard yourself from emotional choices that take you outside those limits into chaos.
These columns are archived since 12/10/09