TAMPA, March 19, 2012 – Give yourself a test. Without doing a web search or whipping out that pocket U.S. Constitution that a wild-eyed Tea Partier handed you, fill in the blank in the following sentence: The U.S. Constitution guarantees to every state in the union a _____form of government.
If you are like ninety percent of the American electorate, you answered “democratic” and you were wrong. The answer is “a republican form of government.” There is a drastic difference between the two and one would think that the Republican Party would know it. Instead, they are identical to their rivals in not only ignoring the distinction but promoting democracy instead.
In a democracy, the will of the majority is the law. Fifty-one percent of the vote empowers the winners to exercise any power they wish. Not so in a republic. The reason that the founders constructed a constitutional republic was to protect Americans from democracy.
That may sound like sacrilege to most 21st century Americans, but it’s true. James Madison called democracy “the most vile form of government.” Thomas Jefferson said that when majorities oppress an individual they “break up the foundations of society.” Benjamin Franklin mused that democracy was like “two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.”