19 April 2023
by Scott Crosby
First published in the Simpsonville Sentinel newspaper
May 2023 issue.
Thankfully, the United States Is Not a Democracy!
In the U.S., we elect our leaders democratically – by popular vote. But that is not what being a democracy is all about.
Want to live in a democracy? Visit Great Britain, or Canada, or Australia, or New Zealand. Visit the European Union countries. Those countries have living standards somewhat similar to ours in the U.S.
But the citizens of those countries do not enjoy the freedoms that Americans do.
The citizens of those countries also have rights, just like the U.S. … except when the government changes its mind. Rights in those countries are conditional – they are not rights at all. They are only permissions.
Who is sovereign? What does that matter?
“Sovereign” is the word for the person or people who have the ultimate say. He or they can nullify and reverse what their subordinates – those who are not sovereign – can do. The sovereign has the ultimate control.
In a country with an all-powerful king or dictator, that person is the sovereign.
Each individual is only allowed to act in ways permitted by the sovereign.
In a country run by a parliament, like Britain, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, the parliament is sovereign. As with a dictator, each individual is only allowed to act in ways permitted by the parliament.
The people of that country elect the members of their parliament. But whatever laws the parliament enacts, people must accept. There is no appeal. Parliament is sovereign.
That makes each Parliament’s leaders incredibly powerful – virtual dictators.
America’s Founding Fathers set out to create a country and a government in which the country’s citizens remained sovereign. They had just fought a war against the most powerful nation in the world – Britain – in the name of the Right of each individual to his life, his liberty, and his pursuit of happiness.
The American Revolutionary War was fought to protect the sovereignty of each American citizen.
Having won that war, how would they now protect those rights? They now had to devise a government that would continue to protect each individual’s rights – his sovereignty – “for ourselves and our posterity” over the coming decades and – hopefully – centuries.
They well knew, that to protect those rights, the most critical danger was the government itself. Government – good or bad – inherently restricts the actions of the people it governs.
A good government only restricts criminal actions – actions by those who would harm or steal from others. Essentially, the government should only protect each individual’s “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
A bad government is overly restrictive in what it prohibits.
And bad governments tend to become progressively more restrictive. Bad governments foster and justify ever-greater oppression.
To form the best government possible, America’s Founders studied what history had to teach about all the mistakes governments could make, how those flaws led to oppression, and how to prevent that destruction from happening in America.
America’s government was the first in history to be designed. America’s government is the only government that did not evolve from what had existed prior to it. And it was designed for a specific purpose: to protect individual rights.
Their study of historical governments included the first democracy: Athens in the 400s BC.
During an assembly in Athens, orators would try to convince the populace to vote as they would like.
On one occasion, Athenian admirals who had won a critical victory had failed to rescue those from wrecked ships, due to the sudden onset of a severe storm. The orators convinced the citizens of Athens to execute the admirals for that failure. That objective won the vote, and the executions were carried out.
But soon the citizens realized how wrong their decision was. The result was a vote to execute those who instigated that vote.
What was legal one day was illegal a day later.
In a democracy, Is each individual sovereign?
In a democracy, the majority is sovereign. The majority vote dictates what shall be the law. The majority is a dictator. Right or wrong, there is no recourse against the majority.
There can be no court to overturn a vote by the majority.
Nor is there permanence in the law. What the law is today may not be the law tomorrow. Imagine trying to plan a whole string of actions years in advance when the law is constantly shifting under your feet.
In a democracy, the individual is the victim.
The parliaments of Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand often demonstrate the problem with democracy. Historically, Britain and all of its spun-off colonies maintained as a Right of the citizens – even a duty – to possess and be trained in the use of weapons for defense.
It is only at times of dictatorial rulers that those weapons were required to be destroyed or turned over to the government; i.e., when those governing feared a rebellion against their actions.
Parliaments in those countries are now dictating what citizens can and cannot own – specifically, guns and weapons.
The world has not changed so much in the last thousand years as we might wish to believe.
Obviously, some in America would like to prevent Americans from owning guns – for the same reason: to prevent rebellion.
What do American politicians have to fear?
President Biden and others have made it crystal clear that, if they were able, they would make over the American political system as they would like it to be. That vision includes dictating to Americans how they are to act and live. They rightfully fear the opposition that would result.
That vision does not include freedom – nor does it include the Bill of Rights. Your “rights” would be limited to whatever level they desire. As President Obama once said, the U.S. Constitution imposes limits on him that he would prefer were not there to stop him.
Power corrupts; America’s Founders knew that. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The only way to prevent that from occurring in America was to create a Constitution that is above the government, which limits it to specific powers – and a Constitution that limits democracy, and is thus above the people. Athens in the 400s BC, Rome during that time and later, and Britain throughout its history up to the present time all provided clear examples of how not to build a government.
The U.S. Constitution is not unchangeable. But Congress and three-fourths of the States must approve any changes. The self-interest of the individual states means that they will never give up their power to restrain the federal government.
In America democracy is limited to only being the means used to elect government leaders – nothing more.
The rule of law remains supreme – beyond the reach of would-be dictators and also safely beyond the reach of the people – and those who wish to persuade them.
In the bargain, that rule of law – and the consequential freedom it guarantees – assures a more prosperous economy than is possible in any other country. That is no coincidence. That freedom enables possibilities that are impossible anywhere else.
Be Glad We Do Not Live in a Democracy! also appeared in the Simpsonville Sentinel newspaper.  See it at https://simpsonville-sentinel.com/the-news/read-news.php?sid=558.
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