Democracy By Default

Deborah Venable



I’ve had a pet peeve for a long time now.  The misuse of the word, “democracy” to define America’s form of government and that which we would like to “export” to other countries in the name of promoting freedom and human liberty – that is my pet peeve.  Educators used to be careful to explain the difference between a democracy and America’s form of government, but that doesn’t seem to be the case any more.  In fact, most natural born citizens of this country would probably use the word, “democracy” to describe our form of government, or if they didn’t, would not be able to define the difference between a democracy and the constitutional representative republic that our founders entrusted to us.  That has become a big problem today, and it is slowly but surely leading us toward a democracy by default.


You may be thinking that I’m splitting hairs here, or that I’m another right wing nut that is spouting off about semantics in a troubled world full of real problems.  Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is a REAL problem, and we had better start addressing it or this little experiment called, America, will fizzle out and end up in the history books with all the other failed democracies.  They all HAVE failed you know – democracies.  Our founders were smart enough to know that and fought tooth and nail to make sure that they did not establish another one.  Indeed, if you search both the Declaration Of Independence and the Constitution Of the United States, you will not find the word, democracy, mentioned at all.  You WILL, however, find that that our Founders were establishing a Republic – and they were very adamant about it. 


As I look around America today, I see more and more evidence that her citizens not only do not know the difference between democracy and constitutional representative republic, but that they are striving ever forward to make over the government into a democracy!  Everything that is going on points to it.  You see, in a democracy people actually resent the fact that there is a head of state, which in our case is the president.  Can’t deny that there are an awful lot of folks that resent the hell out of THIS president, can we?  (Just as an aside, it would help a lot if this president, like most in recent history, would quit mislabeling our form of government on a regular basis himself!)  But the chief indicator that people are turning their heads away from our Republic and toward an idealistic democracy is the constant insistence on demeaning the individual rights issue in favor of the “good of the majority.” 


This isn’t a new problem, folks.  Our Republic started backsliding a long time ago before any of us were alive.  We just haven’t helped the situation.  I know that most do not want to hear this, but it all started when Americans thought they had to deny the influence of a Divine hand in our individual rights.  The Founders tried to make this abundantly clear, but few modern American citizens realize that the keystone of our constitutional representative republic is our INDIVIDUAL, God-given, unalienable rights.  Individual rights are not preserved in a democracy – even with a “representative democracy” that some would have us make a distinction.  Now, I can give you a list of links where you can go and read what others have written, including some of our Founders, on this subject – and I will at the end of this article – but I would like to get you to focus on some points before you do.  I believe it is extremely important that we take the difference between democracy and republic seriously and see the signs that all point to America slipping into a democracy by default.


Every time that you hear people lament that our Constitution is “outdated” or that it is a “living” document meant to be modernized according to the changes in our society, the warning lights should go off in your mind.  The laws that established this country are not outdated, nor do they stand as they were meant to for our individual rights any more because too many of them have been ignored by the MAJORITY.  This has not happened because Americans no longer want their individual rights.  Indeed, most do not even realize that in order for them to have THEIR individual rights, they must adhere to the simple DIVINE laws that guaranteed them – not some man-made, majority installed rules that have been applied by default because individual responsibility was rejected.  It is too bad that folks who call themselves “progressives” have actually “congressed” themselves into a situation whereby their progress is now in great danger. 


In recent years we have heard a tremendous rumble in the bowels of American society to get rid of the Electoral College – that it is “outdated” and that elections are hopelessly “rigged” and “democracy is not being upheld.”  This, more than any other single factor, points to the unforgivable ignorance of American society.  The Electoral College is the only thing standing between justice and injustice in our presidential election system.  Very closely related is the effect that passage of the 17th Amendment had on our government.  Until that time, the distinction between the two houses of Congress added a significant check and balance that hasn’t existed since.  It has allowed government on the Federal level to grow to the behemoth, power-wise, that it is now.  You see, the House of Representatives, consisting of 435 duly elected, (by the people) representatives was the foundation of our representative republic.  They were there to answer to the people, and they had short tenures with which to establish their value as representatives.  They were supposed to be reflective of the “average” American VOTING citizen, bring those concerns before the great body of the legislature, and resist the urge to vote themselves power above that of their constituents.  The Senate, on the other hand, was not there to represent the people.  They were supposed to be there to represent their individual republican STATES.  Therefore, they were supposed to be elected by the people’s REPRESENTATIVES in each state – not by a majority vote of the people.  That makes a BIG difference, folks, whether or not you want to believe it.  The Founders realized that justice would sometimes hinge on whether or not the individual interests in one state – equally valuable in these united states – would be swamped by a majority rule by MORE individual interests residing in other states.  That is why EACH STATE had an EQUAL number of representatives – no matter their population.  The Senate, then, was an important check on power of the majority.  What has happened since the passage of the 17th Amendment is that senators must appease the people and not the state, and so must the representatives in the house.  There is NO check on justice for individual states floundering with small majorities of individuals.  And you ask why individual rights have taken a back seat in our government?


By the same token, all of our congressional representatives are bought and sold by the most powerful GROUPS of people with special interests.  Whenever GROUPS take power they take it from INDIVIDUALS.  Where does that leave ANYONE’S individual rights?  I’ll tell you – those rights are being consistently swept under the rug of secular acceptance, which represents NO individual rights.  Look it up if you don’t believe me.  Human beings do not obtain their individual rights from people.  They are BORN with them.  Therefore, justice dictates that individual rights TRUMP majority rights.  A democracy does not recognize that, ladies and gentlemen. Pure and simple – that is a fact.  There are things that ARE NOT UP FOR A VOTE in this American government our Founders left us.  But very, very few citizens in this country know or understand that.


As promised, here are some links for further study that I think you will find valuable. 


Defining Democracy


Republic vs. Democracy


Official Definition Of Democracy


An Important Distinction: Democracy versus Republic


What Is The Difference Between A Democracy And A Republic


Are We A Democracy Or A Republic?


Republic? Democracy? What's The Difference?


Republic v. Democracy


Democracy versus Republic


The Founders' Wisdom


Is The United States A Democracy?


For background on the 17th Amendment please see these two sites:


The Seventeenth Amendment


Repeal 17



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