A Constitutional Republic, Not a Democracy

A Democracy: Three wolves and a sheep voting on dinner.

A Republic: The flock gets to vote for which wolves vote on dinner.

A Constitutional Republic: Voting on dinner is expressly forbidden, and the sheep are armed.

This is a lesson I wrote to a homeschooling reflector.

I know some of you will see this as semantics and off topic, but it is a pet peeve of mine that some may find of interest. The two responses regarding the Time Magazine's article on homeschooling were well written and articulate. I also enjoyed them tremendously. The only problem was that Time Magazine (like most major media outlets today) incorrectly stated America's form of government in the article and the two responses never challenged them on it.

In order to right history for any child who reads the e-mail from this forum, I felt some definitions were in order. America is not, nor has it EVER been a Democracy. America is a Constitutional Republic. In a Constitutional Republic the people have the duty and the right to select their leaders via free, fair, open and honest elections. The source of the authority exercised by public officials is derived from the people via their election.

Or as James Madison put it:

"The true distinction between these forms (democracy and republic) is, that in a Democracy, the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic, they assemble and administer it by their representatives and agents."--James Madison, Federalist 14

Why is this distinction important? Because the founding fathers considered Democracy as among the very worst and oppressive forms of government.. In a pure Democracy, murder, rape and any other kinds of violent act could become legal as long as 51 percent of the population vote in favor of such a law. While a Constitutional Republic binds its representatives, by oath, to a constitution that restricts them from creating laws that contradict definitions and standards created in that constitutional document.

In a Constitutional Republic all public officials elected or appointed are bound by a written Constitution that spells out the unalienable rights of the people. The unalienable rights of the people are those rights which come from God and belong to all men and cannot "lawfully" be taken away from the people by any government, at any time, for any reason.

Is it any wonder that Adolf Hitler stated that, "Anti-Semitism is a useful revolutionary expedient. My Jews are a valuable hostage given to me by democracy."?

He also stated that:

"The democracy of western countries is the predecessor of Marxism, which would be unthinkable without democracy. Democracy provides the nourishing soil for this world disease; the plague spreads from this ground."--Adolf Hitler

Professor Alexander Fraser Tytler wrote "WHY DEMOCRACIES FAIL", nearly two centuries ago, while New Hampshire and the other twelve original states were still colonies of Great Britain. At the time he was writing of the decline and fall of the Athenian Republic over two thousand years before. Here is what he wrote:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship."--- Sir Alexander Fraser Tytler (18th century Scottish historian)

We even pledge our allegiance to a Republic, not to a Democracy: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

The founding father debated between the two forms of government and decided on a Constitutional Republic. Those who wrote our Constitution, which created our government, never mentioned a democracy at all in that document. That same Constitution does however guarantee to each State a REPUBLICAN form of government:

"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence."---Article IV Section 4 of the United States Constitution

"In Philadelphia, a Mrs. Powel asked Dr. Benjamin Franklin, "Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy?"

"A republic", replied the Doctor, if you can keep it.""

September 18, 1787
--Recorded by James McHEnry, one of Washington's aides, in his diary;
published in the American Historical Review, XI [1906], 618.
--Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, Sixteenth Edition, at 310:26, referenced
under "A republic, if you can keep it."
The founding fathers even had harsh words for Democracies:

James Madison wrote:

"... 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 deaths." --James Madison, known as the father of the U.S. Constitution, in "Essay #10" of The Federalist Papers: "

At that Constitutional Convention another delegate, Elbridge Gerry, stated that, "The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not want [do not lack] virtue; but are the dupes of pretended patriots." "The People Of The Republic"--- Elbridge Gerry, 1744-181, American patriot and political leader. A signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation.

"It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity." -- Alexander Hamilton, in a speech on June 21, 1788

On May 31, 1787, Edmund Randolph told his fellow members of the Constitutional Convention that the object for which the delegates had met was "to provide a cure for the evils under which the United States labored; that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and trials of democracy...."-- Edmund Randolph, ("The People Of The Republic"---1753 -1813) A lawyer who, 1774 upon the retirement of Thomas Jefferson, took over his law practice.

The founders worried much about what they termed as 'factions':

[T]he same advantage which a republic has over a Democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic . . . --James Madison, Federalist number10

"By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community." --James Madison, Federalist [as quoted in Websters 1828]

A Constitutional Republic, was one of the guards against a segment of society, a faction, from dictating their whims to the rest of society, this is what Alexander Hamilton was warning against when he stated regarding democracies "Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity." So it is easy to see why special interest groups have a vested interest when they refer to our Constitutional Republic as a Democracy.

Sorry if this bored some of you and I know that it is off the topic from the usual homeschooling information sent, but I thought the discussion of the article warranted a proper definition.

Below find an excerpt from the Training Manual of the US War Department of 1928, discussing the distinctions between these two forms of government:

Here are four (4) sections taken from a 156 page book officially complied and issued by the U.S. War Department, November 30, 1928, setting forth exact and truthful definitions of a Democracy and of a Republic, explaining the difference between both.

Training Manual
No. 20000-25
War Department
Washington, November 30, 1928CITIZENSHIP
Prepared under the direction of the Chief of Staff
This Manual Supersedes Manual of Citizenship Training


A government of the masses.

Authority derived through mass meeting or any other form of "direct" expression.

Results in mobocracy.

Attitude toward property is communistic-negating property rights.

Attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether it be based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences.

Results in demagogism, license, agitation, discontent, anarchy.


Authority is derived through the election by the people of public officials best fitted to represent them.

Attitude toward property is respect for laws and individual rights, and a sensible economic


Attitude toward law is the administration of justice in accordance with fixed principles and established evidence, with a strict regard to consequences.

A greater number of citizens and extent of territory may brought within its compass.

Avoids the dangerous extreme of either tyranny or mobocracy.

Results in statesmanship, liberty, reason, justice, contentment and progress.

Is the "standard form" of government throughout the world.

A Republic is a form of government under a constitution which provides for the election of (1) an executive and (2) a legislative body, who working together in a representative capacity, have all the power of appointment, all power of legislation, all power to raise revenue and appropriate expenditures, and are required to create (3) a judiciary to pass upon the justice and legality of their governmental acts and to recognize (4) certain inherent individual rights. Take away any one or more of those four elements and you are drifting into autocracy. Add one or more to those four elements and you are drifting into democracy. Superior to all others. :

Autocracy declares the divine right of kings; its authority can not be questioned; its powers are arbitrarily or unjustly administered.

Democracy is the "direct" rule of the people and has been repeatedly tried without success.

Paul D. Carl is the webmaster of NH Patriot and the Treasurer of the New Hampshire Reform Party

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