“They define a republic to be government of laws, and not of men.” —John Adams
The names of the parties are your first clues to understanding their beliefs. Democrats believe in a democracy; they do not generally believe in the republic. The reason for this is because Democrats believe that the majority should always have its way. In Europe, this has become a problem, since the Social Democrats across countries there have used majority rule to eliminate many rights and freedoms. For example, free speech no longer exists in Europe or in Canada. Criticizing Muhammad, for example, will get you a prison term almost anywhere in Europe these days, with the exceptions of Poland, Hungary, and perhaps a few other places. In Canada, a man named Eric Brazau was “arrested and then denied bail for saying that he hated Islam”. In other words, for disagreeing with the majority—who voted for a government that would submit to Islam—a citizen with a minority view was put in jail. America’s First Amendment is a hindrance to such illiberality, since it does not allow arrest or imprisonment of political opponents by simply labeling their utterances as “hate speech,” for it is always the majority that determines what “hate speech” is, and it is never a popular notion that get labeled as such. As Salman Rushdie once said, “Free speech is meant to protect unpopular speech. Popular speech, by definition, needs no protection.” Anti-Semitic speech in Nazi Germany was popular, so it was never labeled “hate speech” by the government, although anti-Hitler invective would have been prosecuted. In a Big-Government world, a culture of doublespeak may easily ensue, whereby true hate speech is not labeled as such and opposition to a hateful leader is actually treated as hate speech. Recall that Hitler was a democratically-elected leader. Democracy—it can easily be proven—in no way protects the rights and freedoms of the individuals against the eventual tyranny of the majority. Democrats—be they European socialists or American socialists—tend to believe in the right of the government to coerce above and beyond the right of the individual to be left alone.
Republicans, on the other hand, are the guardians and protectors of your Constitutional rights; it is Republicans alone, these days, who believe that there are certain unalienable rights that even a majority of the people should not have license to override. These rights are spelled out in the Constitution, which, like the Declaration of Independence, never once mentions the word “democracy.” These Natural Rights, many of the most important of which are protected by our Bill of Rights, are not allowed to be abridged by means of a majority vote, as has too often happened in other countries. A long process involving the eventual ratification of any change by three-fourths of the states must be utilized, in order to change the Constitutional protections Americans enjoy. Republicans wholeheartedly endorse this slow, inconvenient, but deliberative process. Whenever the political opponents of Republicans disagree with them, rather than argue that the disagreeable speech should be labeled a “hate crime,” and describe our Constitution as somehow racist or out-of-date, as Democrats are so wont to do, Republicans instead see the solution as being more speech. It is the persuasion of your opponents that is needed, not their incarceration. Labeling disagreeable speech as “hate speech,” which seems to have become the custom among many Democrats these days (as well as Republicans In Name Only—or RINOs—who advocate anything less than full-throated freedom of speech), only sets in motion the ideas whose acceptance would allow for the creation of a police state, like the one Democrats laid the groundwork for in the spring of 2014, when they tried to abridge the free speech of Americans by attempting to give Congress the power to regulate political speech—and this in a world where Democrats and their media-outlets have made every word you utter potentially political (you can hardly discuss the weather anymore, without getting into the politics of global warming). While every Democrat in the Senate voted for this serious abridgment of free speech rights, every Republican voted against this proposed amendment to the Constitution. So, it has become pretty clear: On a national level, it is the Republican Party, and only the Republican Party, that stands for free speech and your rights under the Constitution nowadays, QED.
Slavery Is a Violation of Property Rights
If we accept Walter E. Williams’ premise that you belong to yourself and are no one else’s property—not even the government’s—then it becomes easy to understand Williams’ assertion that all crimes are a violation of property rights, the most extreme being murder, followed by rape, other forms of violence, and on down the scale to simple theft. One of the violations the renowned economist likes to discuss is slavery, since this means the forcible appropriation of your person—and any efforts by or creations of your person—in order to award that property to another to whom that property does not rightly belong. Williams uses as an example the hypothetical case of a person who wants to help a poor old woman by giving her money; however, in order to get the money, he robs you at gunpoint. This is merely a way of forcing you to use your person and the fruits of your labor for redistribution to someone else to whom they do not belong.
Government Redistribution of Wealth
The government forces hardworking people to work for others whenever it uses taxation to redistribute wealth. This is a form of forced servitude—or enslavement—by the government, for the purpose of harming some people in other to benefit others. Often attributed to George Washington is the saying that “[g]overnment is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” The reason that government is “force” is because government accomplishes all of its purposes by threat of incarceration at gunpoint—not unlike a thief who takes your money the same way, except that government force is legal. It is usually Republicans who fight to oppose or limit such policies. Republicans, whose party was founded in opposition to slavery, believe in freedom. It tends to be Democrats who most enthusiastically embrace government coercion, regulation, and taxation for purposes designed to win votes from those receiving the benefits of what Walter E. Williams calls “government-induced” slavery.
Promoting Socialism: Government-Induced Slavery in the Name of the General Welfare
It is alarming that so many Americans have been trained to endorse “government-induced slavery” as legitimate. According to America’s Founders, the only legitimate form of taxation is for goods and services that benefit the “general welfare”—that is, services that are equally available to all members of our society without regard to identity or income. Examples of this would be as follows: police services, military defense, state highways, postal delivery, public libraries, and so forth. The blurring of the lines—by the Democrats’ creation of the graduated income tax for wealth-redistribution purposes, under Woodrow Wilson, and the institution of the “welfare” state, under Lyndon Johnson—poses a serious problem for the maintenance of America’s libertarian, Constitutionalist mindset; indeed, it has enabled the fostering of freedom-killing socialist beliefs by many in government, media, and academia.
The Problem with Government Charity
Although helping others charitably is a virtue to be encouraged in individuals, people of limited means are punished in today’s world, if they exercise this virtue in too much abundance, due to the fact that government has raised taxes on them, in order to provide government relief, thus causing individuals to lose much in the way of their ability to provide charity. The problem with government-provided charity, aside from forcing productive people to work for unproductive people—thus inducing them to be slaves for that purpose—is that politicians in the government will vote to award charity to people who are not truly in need, in order to win their votes. What this amounts to is less support for the general welfare; instead, the politicians in question support defined groups, in exchange for votes. Charity for votes is not really charity, but a form of pay-for-play corruption.
The Principle of Agency & the Principle of Equal Protection
Republicanism is founded upon the Constitutional view that government should operate based upon a set of consistently applied universal principles, rather than upon fleeting popular notions—which is why the word “democracy” does not appear anywhere in America’s founding documents. To quote Steve H. Hanke, “The Constitution was designed to further the cause of liberty, not democracy. To do that, the Constitution protected individuals’ rights from the government, as well as from their fellow citizens. To that end, the Constitution laid down clear, unequivocal and enforceable rules to protect individuals’ rights. In consequence, the government’s scope and scale were strictly limited.” Every American is protected equally against the tyranny of the mob, into which democracy always has the potential to devolve.
One important freedom principle, the Principle of Agency, holds that government, as your agent, is only permitted to do that which you are permitted to do for yourself. This form of governance fundamentally changes the relationship between the government and the people. It means that government does not rightly possess any power to harm one individual or group in order to help another individual or group.
Individual Rights Must Be Respected by the Majority
Democracy, without any republican form of Equal Protection, can prove to be outright tyrannical. Only a system in which each person has Equal Protection works to ensure liberty and justice for everyone. In a popular example, a horse thief is caught by a posse of 31 people. A member of the posse shouts, “Let’s hang him from a tree!” A vote is held, and 16 members of the posse vote to hang the thief. In a democracy, the horse thief is hanged.
In a republic, however, the sheriff calls out, “You can’t hang him! He has his rights.” Equal Protection and Due Process are invoked: “You would want a chance to explain why you stole a horse, so this man gets a chance to explain. He’ll have his day in court.” This fleshing out of the Right to Due Process, means that judgment is withheld until after a full hearing of all evidence has taken place.
Perhaps the man stole the horse as a result of having been threatened by someone else who wanted the horse, or maybe he mistook the horse as his own. His side of the story must be heard. It is his right. Safety and freedom are both promoted when the Right to Due Process is enforced. In a republic, liberty and safety exist, while in a democracy, an angry mob can make decisions that do not respect the rights of the smallest minority among us—the rights of the individual. It was Ayn Rand who said, “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”
The sheriff from the story was legitimately hired to protect the lives and property of the people, because the people already possessed the Natural Right to protect their own lives and property. So the delegation of this power to an agent who might act on the people’s behalf was proper. It is also fitting that the sheriff enforced justice in accordance with the principles of Equal Protection and Due Process, making sure the people did not treat the accused in any way that they would hate to be treated.
Without Freedom, There Are No Rights
To make sure that the power of the government remains restricted, a system of checks and balances is needed. This system makes the government less efficient in its exercise of power, but more effective in protecting the rights and freedoms of individuals. The authentic power of the individual rests entirely in the individual’s right to think, speak, and act freely. Without the freedom to act according to one’s own conscience, to express what is on one’s mind, whether it be offensive or inoffensive, there can be no human right to think or to act out of one’s own preferences. When the majority can veto your freedom of expression, you are living in a world of group-think socialism and government force. As the Founders of the American republic well knew, government rules always hold the potential of having to be enforced at gunpoint, which means that, for the purposes of a free republic, the best government is that which governs least.
Co-Equal Frustration in Governance
According to the founding principles of the American republic, three co-equal branches share the responsibility of running the government. Each branch exists to provide necessary checks on the exercise of power by the other branches. This is to prevent any one person or faction in the government from becoming too powerful. Republicans are often just as frustrated as Democrats with the difficulties and roadblocks to easy governance that such a system of checks and balances presents. But such a system forces more agreement across greater numbers of people to occur, before a law can be enacted, changed, or repealed. The framers of our Constitution much preferred “gridlock” to a state of affairs where an efficient government might easily pass laws that could eventually turn out to be bad for the American people. No change at all is generally preferable to the making of a poor law. And the most agreement possible among the people and their representatives is always better than reliance upon a bare majority. Liberty must be protected at every turn, so frustrating politicians’ efforts, by design, in order to guarantee a slower and more deliberate process is preferable to making change easy to come by. The Founders of our republic did this on purpose, because freedom is more precious than easy governance, even if that governance be democratically executed.
Rule by Law, Not by Men
A majority-unlimited democracy is more efficient, but a majority-limited republic is more free. It is also worth noting that a democracy is designed to be run by people, while a republic is designed to be run in spite of people. It matters much who the leaders are in a democracy, while a republic runs itself in accordance with the rule of law, rather than the whims of its leadership. It was John Adams who once said, “They define a republic to be government of laws, and not of men.” Indeed, in a democracy the laws—their creation and their enforcement—depend upon the actions of political leaders, while in a republic the actions of political leaders depend upon the rules laid out in the Constitution.
“We the People” Are the Entire Focus in Our Constitutional Republic
The Preamble to the Constitution reads as follows: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
So, the Constitution tells us in its opening statement that it is the American people who give license to the new government, not its political leaders. The reasons mentioned for writing this social contract are as follows: enforcement of just laws, defense of the nation, the use of funds only for things that benefit everyone, and a limitation on government power, in order to promote freedom for all into the future. The Constitution is really about the rule of law, with equal treatment for all, and for the benefit of everyone—not the rule of those who would otherwise create division among citizens, then grant special favors to the larger half of them in order to procure their favor in the form of votes. It also bears mentioning that no officeholder—in the legislative, executive, or judicial branch—is above the law. This is the way of a free republic.
Let freedom ring throughout the land!
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com