MIRACLE OF DEMOCRACY? – PART 1

Google “miracle of democracy,” and you will get about 37,500 hits. What is the top hit? That is www.miracleofdemocracy.org. Hilariously, this hit relates that the Liberty Institute, the sponsor of this website, has an initiative, Ayn Rand in India. Ayn Rand was an atheist. Atheists do not believe in miracles.

What we do to our language is most strange. In our quest to win an argument, we will corrupt the very language we use to convey our arguments. There is “no miracle of democracy,” but there is the “miracle of a republic.” Unfortunately, if you Google “miracle of a republic,” that will get you about three hits.

Why The “Miracle of a Republic”

What is the difference between a democracy and a republic? Why is it important that we know the difference? In a democracy, we have the despotism of the majority. In a republic, the People choose to restrain themselves. In a republic, the majority recognizes the rights of the minority, thereby limiting the power of government. Thus, only in a republic does each individual have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Why would a People choose to restrain itself? Christians would do so because they love God and each other, and Christians settled America. The colonials’ love of God and neighbor produced a product, self-restraint which some would attribute to the Holy Spirit. Therefore, love of God and neighbor created a miracle, a government that actually serves the People. Government that serves the People…. Before that time, such government was rare indeed.

How did this miracle manifest itself? It did so in our Constitution. Our Constitution created a framework of restraints on majority rule. Because the People wanted these restraints, our Constitution created a republic, not a democracy. To protect individual rights, our laws do two things.

  • They say what the government can do.
  • They say what citizens cannot do.

When our laws operate this way, both individual citizens and groups of citizens can do almost anything they wish — unless some law or regulation prohibits what they want to do. All we must do is avoid violating each other’s rights.

On the other hand, the Federal government can only do what the U.S. Constitution says it can do. Since the Constitution was not written to greatly empower the Federal government, the Founders did not intend that the Federal government do all that much. Moreover, the citizens of the new republic insisted upon further limitations. Therefore, they added a Bill of Rights.

200 years ago We the People agreed to abide by the restraints incorporated in our Constitution. Do we still honor those restraints? That will be the subject of MIRACLE OF DEMOCRACY? – PART 2.

–Tom Salmon

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