A Point of View: Thoughts on our republic nation
Friday October 11, 2013 | By:Dr. Robert L. Heichberger |
Public meetings, hearings and dialogues of local municipalities and school districts are not uncommon, in our area. Often, at these meetings, the public speaks, the elected representatives are present and the media reports the story, often along with photos. This is the way things happen in a republic.
The word republic is derived from the Latin res publica, or “public thing.” We live in the United States and it is a Republic. The word “democracy” does not appear anywhere in the Declaration of Independence or in our Constitution. In fact, the Constitution states “to every state in this Union, a Republican form of government.” And the pledge of allegiance to the flag does not state “the democracy for which it stands,” but it does state “to the republic for which it stands.” And all of us know the words to the “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” but we have never seen the words to “The Battle Hymn of the Democracy.” Why do we make this distinction?
There are those who have the impression that our form of government is a democracy or representative democracy. This is really not the case. The founders were knowledgeable about the issue of democracy and feared a democracy as much as they feared a monarchy.
They understood that the only entity that can take away the people’s freedom is their own government, either by being too weak to protect them from external threats or becoming too powerful and taking over every aspect of their lives.
Our early founders knew very well the meaning of the word “democracy,” and the history of democracies; they were deliberately doing everything in their power to prevent having a democracy.
In a republic, the sovereignty resides with the people themselves and they may act on their own or through their elected offiicials, whom they choose to represent their interests.
Clearly, there is a difference between republican and democratic forms of government. John Adams knew the difference when he said, “You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments, rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; laws derived from the great Legislator of the universe.” Nothing in our Constitution suggests that government is a grantor of rights. Instead, government is a protector of rights.
The Constitution of the United States put into practice the principle of the Declaration of Independence: that the people form their governments and grant to them only “just powers,” limited powers, in order to secure their inalienable rights.
The American philosophy and system of government thus bar equally the “snob rule” of a governing elite and the “mob-rule” of an omnipotent majority.
This is designed, above all else, to preclude the existence, in America, of any government power capable of being misused, to violate the individual rights.
Our early framers gave us a Constitution which contains coverage to protect the republic. In their wisdom, the writers gave us the electoral college so that, in presidential elections, heavily populated states could not democratically run over the smaller, sparsely populated states. There was virtue in their wisdom.
Truly, we in our local communities, and all Americans, for that matter, are indebted to our American forefathers for their brilliance in Constitutional content in protecting our freedoms. These rights are clearly exemplified in our local public meetings, hearings and in the media.
The founders intended and laid out the ground rules as a republic, for our nation and for our local communities. We believe that all Americans have much of which to be proud, going all the way back to the founding of this great nation.