By David P. Shreiner
Sunday, June 29, 2003
Most people believe the United States is a country created with a democratic form of government. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Founding Fathers were almost as fearful of democracy as they were the monarchies of Europe.
James Madison, the father of the Constitution, said, "Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention, have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property, and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death." No doubt he was thinking of ancient Athens.
Edmund Randolph of Virginia understood the dangers of democracy when he said the object of the Constitutional Convention "was to produce a cure for the evils under which the United States labored; that in tracing these evils to their origins, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy."
Our government was founded as a decentralized representative republic whose power was limited to the protection of liberty and private property. The words "democracy" and "democratic" appear nowhere in the Constitution. A republic differs from a democracy like the rule of law differs from the rule of the masses.
Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said after the Constitutional Convention in 1787 that the delegates to the convention gave the people "a republic, if you can keep it." Unfortunately, we haven't kept it. We have reverted to a kind of democracy feared by the Founders, a centralized power controlled by majority opinion that can be arbitrary, impulsive and frivolous.
In a democracy it is a small, slippery step that separates rule by an educated, wise citizenry from rule by the greedy mob. This has always been the danger of democracy.
The worst president in the history of the United States showed us the worst aspects of democracy -- government by daily and weekly polling results. Constant polling could only be accomplished in our age of high technology when a vote is a mere byte per microsecond.
The early 20th century showed the effects of constitutional amendments designed to make the government more democratic -- the 17th Amendment in the disastrous year of 1913. The Constitution originally provided for election of senators by the state legislatures, but the 17th Amendment changed that to election by the people, another step toward democracy. The Founding Fathers wanted the Senate composed of wise and able legislators appointed by state legislatures. Senators should not be subject to the vagaries of the majority, and therefore they could temper the bills from the roistering and elected House of Representatives.
The 16th Amendment creating the income tax also came into being in 1913. This was indeed a black year for it saw the beginning of central banking, the Federal Reserve System, which gave us the Great Depression of the 1930s. Without the 16th Amendment, we never would have achieved the powerful central government and welfare state we have today.
Socialism would have remained nothing more than the sick idea of malcontents such as Marx and Lenin. Unless this amendment is repealed (as probable as Hillary Clinton deciding not to run for president), we have no chance to restore the republic.
The 18th Amendment, ratified in 1919, created Prohibition, another disastrous mistake from which the country never recovered. This was the result of an urge to accommodate majority opinion without considering the rights of the individual. It brought us organized crime, which is still with us today. Although in 1933 the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th, it could not abolish organized crime.
Without bothering to make another fatal amendment, Congress repeated the mistake of Prohibition by creating a large class of illegal drugs. This restored to organized crime the lucrative way of life to which they had become accustomed during Prohibition. But now instead of bootlegging liquor, they smuggle illegal drugs. Once again this was a misguided attempt at accommodating majority opinion instead of considering individual rights. Americans did not have a drug problem or a war on drugs until these drugs were made illegal. And so we persist with another failed program that threatens liberty and costs billions of tax dollars that could best be used by those people earning the money.
How did we get this far -- from a republic to a democracy? It was a long process that began with the Civil War, which proved that states had no right to secede, that they did not have the powers guaranteed to them in the Bill of Rights. The 10th Amendment, ratified 70 years before the Civil War, states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Thus, the Civil War effectively canceled the 10th Amendment -- without a Constitutional Convention.
The perpetual confusion of Americans about their own government is aggravated by the old democratic habit of election of representatives of our former republic. It is one thing to elect leaders by majority vote, but quite another thing for majorities to decide what rights they have, to redistribute wealth and to restrict the liberties of minorities.
The rule of law and the Constitution have become irrelevant. We now live by poll results that are highly influenced by the socialist propaganda of the news media.
Do we have a right to a job? Yeah, you bet!
Do we have a right to go to college? Of course; isn't that in the Constitution?
Do we have a right to a parking place downtown? Yeah, why not!
Most Americans' abysmal knowledge of the Constitution allows those who desire world government to erode individual liberties, bit by bit, under the pretense of compassion, national security and equal rights for all.
Without a real Constitution there is no obstacle to giving up national sovereignty and adopting the new socialist world government.
Without a real Constitution we have no individual liberties.
Without a real Constitution the meaning of America is whatever the majority of the moment wants it to be.
And we are now without a real Constitution in the sense that it is no more than an historical document of no current value except when it suits someone's political agenda.
Liberals refer to it affectionately as a "living document," meaning that it changes as often as they want it to and it means whatever they want it to mean.
We live in a time when there are virtually no constitutional restraints on the federal government. The Constitution regularly is subverted by Congress, executive orders or judicial decrees.
Democracy is promoted as fairness and civil rights in an effort to gain some benefit for some special interest group. The job of all politicians is to ignore the rule of law as defined in the Constitution and to concern themselves solely with control of majority opinion.
The demands of the majority are always greater than taxation can provide. We are now witnessing the rise of socialism while the signs of its imminent collapse are everywhere.
The Social Security system won't last many more years.
Medicare is already so stressed that more adjustments must be made to the law.
The unrecorded numbers of the unemployed grow and demand more, while the official unemployment figures are fudged by deleting all those who have been out of work more than a few months.
Inflation of the money supply to satisfy this demand only devalues the currency and impoverishes those with savings accounts and nest eggs.
The end is in sight. The only question is when will the collapse of democratic socialism finally be obvious to everyone. Pure democracy ends in violence and chaos. Let us hope someone somewhere has a good alternative ready to go when our social structures implode.