A Republic if you can keep it


Following my post on “cashless communism“, I’d like to address why democracy doesn’t work, either.

There’s a story (and I blatantly paraphrase) of Ben Franklin being asked what form of government had came out the Constitutional convention, to which he replied “A Republic if you can keep it.”. This sentiment was strong amongst the Founding Fathers, that a democracy was sure to fail, but republicanism had more stability.

There’s a great article on the website of the journal The New American that catalogs this belief far better than I ever could. I won’t expound on this topic like I did cashless communism, but in a nutshell democracy unrestrained is mob rule. The article mentions this quote, but it’s worth reiterating own its own:

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.” – Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee

There is debate as to whether Lord Woodhouselee actually made the statement attributed to him, but the basis of the statement is fairly sound. We’ve seen this in history, and we have seen the West attempt proselytise democracy across the Middle East for the past decade or so. The Arab Spring was based on a premise of spreading democracy. We may have opportunity to possibly test this theory as current political affairs unravel, at least in the deprecation from democracy into dictatorship.

So is this also the fate of the United States? We’re a republic and not a democracy, right? I’m sure the U.S. will cease to exist as we know it at some point. Not too many governments can stand the test of time. The name of a nation may stand, but its underlying political structure changes. The Roman Republic fell with the ascendency of Julius Gaius Julius Cæsar. A couple hundred years later the whole empire collapsed. Great Britain is today by no means the same type of monarchy that was established by William the Conqueror (also known by another name by those who weren’t fond of him) when he unseated the last Anglo-Saxon kings. The Magna Carta saw Britain’s nobles force the Angevin king John Lackland to capitulate some of the powers of the throne. Parliament, and particularly the House of Commons, grew in power over the centuries under the premise of representing the people. History repeats itself, so we must understand what the possible outcomes are. A Nation with that kind of insight can guide itself into calm waters.

To me this all goes back a basic belief expressed in my post on Secession and the Christian:

13 [This is] the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole [duty] of man. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

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