Let's Digress

Is Democracy Dying in America?

I’ve been told that democracy is dying in America. I’m okay with it. 

From what I gather by observing social media posts and listening to people, the majority of those people appear to be under the impression that due to the Trump impeachment circus, democracy in America is dying, if not already dead. 

So, given the current political climate, and given that the majority of people who believe democracy is disappearing are ill-informed, I feel compelled to write this.

I’m old enough to remember when George W. Bush and Al Gore had their election; Bush won, Gore lost, and everyone said democracy was dying. When Obama ran for President and won twice, everyone said democracy was dying. When Trump beat Clinton, everyone said democracy was dying. And now we’re in the middle of this impeachment silliness, and everyone is still saying democracy is dying. 

Here’s what I know: 

1) People like to whine and be dramatic, regardless of their political affiliation.

2) Democracy can die all day, every day, all the time, and it probably should die. 

3) Democracy can die because the United States isn’t a democracy. It’s a Constitutional Republic.  

4) The U.S. being a Constitutional Republic is one of the many things that makes this fabulous country so special. 

In her book, The Legal Basis for a Moral Constitution, Jenna Ellis says,

It is worth mentioning here that Americans have also largely been confused on the appropriate definition of our government as a construct. We are not a democracy—we are a constitutional republic. In fact, the U.S. Constitution specifically states this fact in Article IV in what is known as the Guarantee Clause.143 This clause states that the federal government shall guarantee to the states a republican form of government. That is, that the “consent of the governed” will be effectuated through a trustee form of government and representatives of government—not direct democracy and simple majority.

The proper operation of this clause is very similar to how the Electoral College functions. The simple popular majority of the people’s will is an illegitimate authority for governance. In fact, the Greek word for democracy is “dimokratia” or “force of the people” and meaning a “mob rule.” This is specifically the type of rule the Founders intended to avoid through a representative form of government. The Founders even avoided direct democracy for the procedure electing our officers of government in the federal Executive and Judiciary branches.

Jenna Ellis, The Legal Basis for a Moral Constitution

Hypothetical situation I: If the United States were a democracy, and if 51% of the population voted to reinstate slavery, then it would be reinstated, regardless of the morality, ethical complications, or opinions of the other 49% of the population. 

Hypothetical situation II: If the United States were a democracy, and if 51% of the population voted to remove or alter the nineteenth amendment, then women or men, depending on which sex they voted about, would lose their right to vote, regardless of what is moral, ethical, or what the other 49% of the population wanted.

That same “mob rule” ideology could—and probably would—alter many other aspects of law and life in the United States. 

Fortunately, the United States isn’t a democracy. 

We’re a Constitutional Republic. 

Constitutional meaning we have a creed, a rulebook, a set of ideas we all agree on at baseline that defines the principles on which our government and our identity as Americans are based. That creed, rulebook, and set of ideas being the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence

Republic meaning the government is operated by elected officials who were elected by the people to work on behalf of the people and to represent those people in the government.

The next logical step of being a Constitutional Republic is that those representatives ought to represent their people well. First, they should do what is in line with the Founding Documents and what is morally and ethically upstanding. Second, if they don’t represent their constituents well or if they misbehave, then they should be voted out and the people will elect another person to replace them who will hopefully do better. 

American freedom, the American Creed, and our Constitutional Republic are all things we take for granted and abuse regularly. They’re things that we can only truly appreciate when we reflect on where this country came from and when we look at the other less-free countries in existence currently. 

I believe the United States is the greatest, freest, most prosperous county in the history of the world and has done the most good for the rest of the world. American exceptionalism is real and none of it would be possible if we lived in a democracy. It’s only possible because of our Constitutional Republic.

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