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At first I couldn’t believe my eyes.
In fact, I had to look away and blink a couple of times before reading the email again. But it still said the same thing: “Benjamin Franklin said, ‘We have given you a democratic-republic… if you can keep it.”
No, he didn’t!
I had to face the fact: A Straight Talkreader had fallen victim to 100 years of liberal brainwashing. What he said was such a gross perversion of the truth—and the difference is so incredibly important to preserving what liberties we have left—I hope you’ll indulge me in a brief history lesson this week.
If you remember much from your high school history classes about the founding of this country, you know there was a great deal of controversy about what type of government the newly independent states should create.
The first effort, the Articles of Confederation, was generally regarded as a failure. But what should replace them? Each state sent a group of representatives to meet in Philadelphia and hammer out a new agreement. The deliberations of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 were held in strict secrecy. Consequently, anxious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall when the proceedings ended, eager to learn what had been produced behind those closed doors.
As the delegates left the building, a Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got?”
With no hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Not a democracy, not a democratic republic. But “a republic, if you can keep it.”
Over the past four decades I have recounted this story several hundred times. For many years I traveled the country giving speeches about the threats to this Republic. I always enjoyed the opportunity to talk to high school students when I could wrangle an invitation. When I did, I loved to tell them about the differences between a republic and a democracy.
“A lynch mob is democracy in action,” I would say. “While if you believe someone is innocent until proven guilty, that they deserve their day in court and that a jury of their peers should decide their fate, then you believe in a nation of laws, not just the whims of a mob.”
Another line I used a lot was, “Democracy is five wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch. If you were the sheep, which would you rather live in—a republic or a democracy?”
I told them about the importance of “binding men down with the chains of a Constitution.” That this was the only sure way to protect their freedom. And that anyone who wanted to change this republic into a democracy was an enemy of liberty.
A century or two earlier there would have been no need to give such a talk—and no interest if one did. Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, every American who could read and write (and probably most of those who couldn’t), knew we were a republic. The campaign to brainwash us into believing we were a democracy didn’t begin until 100 years ago. Today, if you take a poll of high school or college students, the overwhelming majority will tell you that we are a democracy.
Please don’t dismiss this as a mere quarrel over semantics. Understanding the difference between the two systems of government is absolutely vital. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that our very liberties depend on getting more Americans to realize the importance of this seemingly arcane dispute.
Our Founding Fathers Feared And Hated Democracy
Most high school students who heard me say such a thing were surprised and shocked. They had been taught that the United States was, and had always been, a democracy. That “majority rule” was the fairest of all possible forms of government.
Who was this guy to tell them they’d been lied to?
So I quoted what some of our founding fathers had to say. I asked if they had heard of The Federalist Papers—the collection of articles written during the debate over ratifying the new constitution.
In Federalist No. 10, James Madison, often referred to as “the father of the Constitution,” had this to say:
“…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 are violent in their deaths.”
Alexander Hamilton concurred. In a speech he gave in June 1788, urging ratification of the Constitution, he thundered:
“The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.”
Fisher Ames, a member of Congress during the eight years that George Washington was president, wrote an essay called “the Mire of Democracy.” In it, he said that the framers of the Constitution “intended our government should be a republic, which differs more widely from a democracy than a democracy from despotism.”
Yes, our founding fathers were well aware of the differences between a republic and a democracy. They revered the former; but as I said above, they hated and feared the latter.
In view of the founders’ ardent convictions, it is no surprise that you cannot find the word “democracy” anywhere in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the U.S. Indeed, the Constitution not only proclaimed that our Federal government should be a republic; it went further and mandated that “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government.”
These principles used to be widely understood and commonly accepted. John Marshall, chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1801 until 1835, said that, “Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that “democracy becomes a government of bullies tempered by editors.”
Nor was it only Americans who feared and despised democracy. Lord Acton, the famous Englishman who coined the aphorism that “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely,” had this to say:
“The one prevailing evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”
It was only during the last century that the falsehood about this country being a democracy became widely accepted. Woodrow Wilson declared that we fought World War I “to make the world safe for democracy.” Franklin Roosevelt said that the U.S. “must be the great arsenal of democracy.”
So today, almost every schoolchild in America believes that the U.S. is a democracy. Why did the liberal intelligentsia in this country, supported by their slavish followers in the media and their docile puppets in politics, pull this “bait and switch” on us?
For the answer, let’s turn to another Englishman, Alexander Fraser Tytler, also known as Lord Woodhouselee, who wrote:
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates 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.”
The only part of Mr. Tytler’s warning I’ll dispute is his use of the word “always.” You and I have been given the power to prevent our country’s descent into a democracy. It’s called the ballot box. Let’s hope enough of us use it this coming Nov. 2 to begin the process of taking our country back.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.
Thu Mar 11, 3:00 am ET
Creators Syndicate – The most disturbing part of the ObamaCare debate is not about where Republicans and Democrats disagree, but where they agree.
Take this issue of those with pre-existing illnesses. Many Republicans actually support government action to prevent insurance companies from refusing to insure them. Ignoring the benefits of cost-lowering free market competition and the role of charity, many Republicans believe it acceptable to force an insurance company — in business to insure against unknown risks — to "insure" someone currently experiencing a known risk.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., supports legislation to "eliminate pre-existing conditions" as a reason for a carrier to deny coverage. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., says government needs "to take care of things like pre-existing conditions so that that doesn't stop (people) from getting insurance." Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, supports prohibiting "insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions or charging higher premiums to people who are sick."
But this should not surprise anyone who observes the allegedly "fiscally conservative," "pro-free market," "limited government" party in action. From the acceptance of the New Deal to government bailouts of private industry, Republicans — sooner or later — go along.
Here are just a few recent examples. Republican President George W. Bush, for a time, worked with a Republican House and Senate. Bush promised and delivered a prescription benefits bill for seniors. It expanded Medicare, the popular under-funded entitlement program passed — with Republican support, by the way — in 1965. We like seniors. Seniors vote. So if they struggle with their drugs bills, why, by all means make someone else help pay them.
On the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law by his father, Bush bragged about the law's importance and effectiveness. That such an assault on private employers engenders praise says much about the GOP's acceptance of federal government's command and control.
Like Hamlet, Bush agonized over whether to support federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. He never said, "Why are we asking government to spend taxpayer money on research that is — or should be — done by the private sector or nonprofits?"
No Child Left Behind ties federal dollars to local schools' performance. Where is the outrage about taxpayers in one state paying for education in another? What gives educrats in Washington, D.C., the skills, wisdom and competence to run schools in all 50 states? More importantly, what clause in the Constitution permits this? Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan campaigned to shut down the Department of Education. Reagan failed. Today any candidate making such promises gets a one-way ticket to Shutter Island.
The entire ObamaCare debate starts off in the wrong place — with Republicans agreeing that "reform" is necessary, health care "costs too much" and that government must "make health care more affordable." But it is because of government — laws, regulations and policies — that users pay more for services and drugs than they otherwise would.
Licensing requirements restrict potential caregivers. A non-doctor field medic in Iraq or Afghanistan could not come home, hang up a shingle, and render basic care without facing prosecution. Despite our aging population, trade associations, along with laws and regulations, restrict the number of doctors. Insurance companies enjoy protected markets because laws restrict carriers from competing across state lines. The Food and Drug Administration increases the cost of drugs while delaying or keeping possibly beneficial drugs off the market.
Republicans ran for the exits when Bush attempted a partial privatization of Social Security. And they should encourage a full-throated deregulation/privatization of the health care industry. After airline deregulation, fares declined. After telephone deregulation, telecommunications companies started providing a numbing array of services — along with better quality, lower prices and constant innovation.
Because government pays for nearly half of medical costs, we have a nation of government-provided-health-care dependents. Understandably, they want what they currently have or expect to have in the near future. But Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are steadily gnawing away at the country's foundation. The bill is coming due.
In 1900, government at all levels — federal, state and local — took about 7 percent of America's income. Today it's almost 40 percent. And that doesn't include an estimated 10 percent cost in federal unfunded mandates imposed on states and private business. President Barack Obama and Democrats want to add more than 30 million people — those without health insurance — to the takers, with little or no concern about the effect on the givers.
Are Republicans sounding the alarm about government's present intrusion in health care and its counterproductive effect on quality, affordability and accessibility? Government, they should argue and persuade, grows at the expense of the productive. This eventually weakens the country by sapping the incentive of risk takers. This makes it harder — not easier — to help those we claim to care about.
A collectivist, whether an active or passive one, is still a collectivist. Having an "R" after the name provides no defense.
Larry Elder is a syndicated radio talk show host and best-selling author. His latest book, "What's Race Got to Do with It?" is available now. To find out more about Larry Elder, visit his Web page at www.WeveGotACountryToSave.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2010 LAURENCE A. ELDER
"Americans cherish their independence. One interesting aspect of the spontaneous tea party movement is the constant invocation of the Founders and the prominence of the 'Don't Tread on Me' flag. ... Americans tend to see themselves as independent doers, not dependent victims. They don't like to be told, especially by those with fancy academic pedigrees, that they are helpless and in need of government aid. That's why the politically popular American big government programs -- Social Security, Medicare, veterans' benefits, student loans -- all make a connection between effort and reward. You get a benefit because you've worked for it. In contrast, Americans have loathed and rejected big government programs with no nexus between effort and reward. Welfare was begun in the 1930s to help widows with children, whose plight, as Russell Baker's memoir 'Growing Up' showed, was often dismal. But when welfare became a mass program to subsidize mothers who didn't work and to excuse fathers from responsibility for their actions, it became wildly unpopular. Bill Clinton recognized this when he signed welfare reform in 1996. ... Barack Obama, who has chosen to live his adult life in university precincts, sees ... Americans generally as victims who need his help, people who would be better off dependent on government than on their own. Most American voters don't want to see themselves that way and resent this condescension." --political analyst Michael Barone
"When Republicans regain a majority in the House and Senate -- either this fall, as seems increasingly likely, or in the election following -- they must learn from their previous mistakes when they last held power. In addition to focusing on overturning whatever health insurance 'reform' proposal this Congress eventually passes (by a veto override, or a lawsuit challenging the measure's constitutionality), a Republican congressional majority must help large numbers of the public unlearn the factual errors they have been taught to accept. From 'climate change,' to the notion that government is a guarantor through 'entitlement' programs of a minimal outcome in life, to the forgotten idea given to us by the Founders that Liberty is the most precious gift there is, the country needs a history lesson based on truth, experience and provable facts. ... A Republican majority should turn the nation's attention away from Washington. A Republican majority must teach us again that 'you can do it,' like so many of our fathers did when the training wheels came off and we learned we could fly down the sidewalk without assistance. America doesn't need restructuring. It needs revival; revival of the principles that made us strong and great; revival of the moral foundation that proved to be our real strength and allowed us to conquer our demons and become independent, not dependent on government. This is the message most Americans want to hear and need to hear. Will the Republicans deliver it?" --columnist Cal Thomas
"Perhaps you and I have lived with this miracle too long to be properly appreciative. Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again. Knowing this, it is hard to explain those who even today would question the people's capacity for self-rule. Will they answer this: if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?" --Ronald Reagan
Today a man flew his single engine plane into a building in Austin Texas. Link. Apparently this guy was so mad at the IRS he decided to commit suicide by flying his plane into a building full of IRS agents. I hope no one was injured.
His name was Joseph Andrew Stack. I've often wondered why it is that when you commit a heinous crime, your middle name is always used? Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wayne Gacy, John Wilkes Booth. Mr. Stack left a note behind that explained in great detail how the IRS had screwed up his life. When you leave a note, and commit a heinous crime, it's always called a "manifesto."
I guess if you commit a serious crime, be prepared to have your middle name used. My sympathies to anyone wounded in the attack today.
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