Sunday, January 24, 2010
House of Representatives
Provision 10 of the United States Constitution (Article I.2.1) is that the members of the House of Representatives shall be elected by qualified voters in each of the states. The people had the Right to vote for their own representatives. This provision made the United States a democratic republic. A democracy involves all the citizens participating in the way government runs. When the people elect representatives to do the work of government, it is called a republic. We have a democratic republic because the masses of qualified voters elect their own representatives and then the representatives pass the laws and run the government. The Founders of our nation had great confidence in the American people. At the time our Constitution was written, there was no government on earth where the people elected their own representatives. They apparently understood that a pure democracy could not last. "Two hundred years ago a noted historian Alexander Tyler explained, `A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until [a majority of] the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse [gifts] from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy [taxing and spending], always followed by a dictatorship. The average life of the world's greatest civilizations has been two hundred years'" (quoted in The Making of America - The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution by W. Cleon Skousen, p 265). The Founders wanted to have a government "of the people, by the people, for the people" without the problems caused by a true democracy. Skousen explained, "A people's `constitutional' republic is sometimes called a `federal' republic or `democratic' republic, This system is based on the supreme will of the people, which is expressed in a written constitution. It was invented by the American Founding Fathers. This American system divides power vertically and horizontally and assigns to each level of government those responsibilities which can be most efficiently and economically administered there. It proved to be the soundest system of government ever devised by man" (The Making of America, p 265). Skousen lists the following advantages of a republic with quotes from the Founders to support them: 1) "Wise representatives can benefit the public more than the public can benefit itself;" 2) "In a Republic, a majority rule is the first principle;" 3) "A Republic is the only means of securing equal rights;" 4) "Every citizen has a voice and a vote" (Making of America, p 266). The Founders hoped that by founding our nation as a democratic republic that the country could grow bigger without becoming divided. An easy way to explain this principle would be to compare a family council with father, mother and children discussing family concerns with a council for an extended family where only the representatives of each group come together to make decisions.