A Return to republican (small “r”) government

Writing from Miami, Florida

Would you rather live in a republic or a democracy?

In an article by the economist Walter E. Williams (Are we a republic or a democracy?) we discover the difference between a republic and a democracy:

So what’s the difference between republican and democratic forms of government? John Adams captured the essence of the difference when he said, “You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.”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.

In recognition that it’s Congress that poses the greatest threat to our liberties, the framers used negative phrases against Congress throughout the Constitution such as: shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, and shall not be violated, nor be denied. In a republican form of government, there is rule of law. All citizens, including government officials, are accountable to the same laws. Government power is limited and decentralized through a system of checks and balances. Government intervenes in civil society to protect its citizens against force and fraud but does not intervene in the cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange.

Contrast the framers’ vision of a republic with that of a democracy. In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.

I suppose that if you happen to hold the same beliefs as the majority in a democracy, you’re in a good position — unless you want to let others believe and live differently.

Another good article by Dr. Williams on this subject is How to create conflict.

5 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

  • Small and weak government?

  • If you can’t get a cop in Wichita

  • Friedman: Laws that do harm

  • Franklin Roosevelt, contributor to modern nanny state

  • Like it or not, we’re coming to plan for you

%d bloggers like this: