Thursday, May 20, 2010
Republic, Not Democracy
On this Freedom Friday, the topic of discussion is republics. The pledge of allegiance highlights the form of government in the United States - "I pledge allegiance to the flag Of the United States of America And to the Republic For which it [the flag] stands…." The Founders desired to set up a Republic for numerous reasons. A pure democracy works well in smaller groups where the masses of people can fully participate in decisions and rules. A democracy becomes inefficient and unwieldy in a large population. A republic can be expanded indefinitely because it governs through representatives. James Madison defined a republic as follows: "We may define a republic to be … a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period or during good behavior. It is essential to such a government that it bed derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans and claim for their government the honorable title of republic" (quoted by W. Cleon Skousen in The Five Thousand Year Leap, p 114). Three examples of tyrannical governments that claim to be republics are the Communist People's Republic of China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).