Governmental systems find trouble when they move from small to large. It was precisely this fear of government size that lead the founding generation to form a Republic. In this way democracy was utilized under strict and consistent rules designed to rotate the management of government and therefore its size.
Today that has changed, and not for the better. And in this way, more than any other – people should not be able to vote to take away the rights of others. And yet, this is what the slogan of “democracy” has come to mean. It does not mean that people prevail over government, it has come to mean that government prevails over people by claiming the blessing of mass opinion. This form of government has no limit. Even tyranny would not be ruled out.
A republic, on the other hand, is a non-monarchial system that makes no claim to somehow embody the will of the people. It is a system merely for the appointment of leaders and application of the law – which should be fundamentally, and constitutionally limited.
This does not mean that democratic elections can’t be used to choose leaders whose job it should be to promote liberty. But that is a far cry from allowing minorities to be victimized by a coalition making up the majority.
Our Constitution was designed to protect individual rights, and the founders clearly knew they wanted a republic, not a democracy, where the majority could not dictate the definition of rights to the minority. Ironically, in drafting the Constitution the authors yielded to democratic majority by allowing for the continuance of slavery.
Decisions like this and many others over the years have made the concept of rights arbitrary and capricious, while individual and natural rights are no longer cherished or understood. It is this failed understanding that permits the welfare-warfare state while destroying the concept of civil liberties, self-ownership and responsibility.
Today, the majority, or a well-organized minority, can force government to dictate behavior to all Americans. Voluntary associations are regulated and victimless behavior is made criminal.
What people see as a majority now define rights – what people want, demand, need or wish can be declared a right by merely writing a law. This was never meant to be, and we now have a tyranny of the majority.
How you ask?
Because this “democracy” has drifted us into a highly controlled administrative state, or what Alexis de Toqueville called a “despotism of administrators.” Dr. Paul Rahe should be credited with observing this drift as he looked at Montesquieu’s idea of the balance of power (on which the US Constitution was based) to contrast Rousseau’s worldview, only to confirm the dangers and possibilities for self-governance with Alexis de Toqueville.
Democracy’s drift is basically this: free societies based on commerce bring prosperity. Prosperity brings comfort. Comfort brings entitlement, and when entitled – people willingly hand over personal liberties to maintain that comfort, giving way to a giant administrative state and the despotism that comes with it.
This is only solved by a strong sense of self-direction at the most local of levels – even self-started local civic associations and townships are extremely important for this reason. Without this sense of self-control, self-direction and self-worth – we give in to what Montesquieu called “inquietude,” a general lack of security and uneasiness about life. This inquietude is only solved with individual purpose, and that is only fulfilled when one feels in control of their own destiny.
Problems begin, when people (in order to achieve the comfort they seek), embrace the administrative state to meet their needs for comfort. At that point, they are content to vote, through administrators, against individual rights and personal liberty. They embrace statism in the name of freedom, and of course we know – central planning and a strong administrative state necessarily kill liberty, and without the freedom to choose…well, we have given up everything.
And so we stand, with a republic abandoned and a democracy drifting through the despotism of administration.
The only solution is for the republic to be strengthened, and that begins with the deconstruction of the federal government. It means less control and administration, not more. Only this, will correct the course. At that point, the republican form of government is restored and those daily decisions are moved into the hands of individuals once again – not to be a democracy, but to be free thinking individuals who plot the course of our own lives with very little intervention from any form of government.
Much of this summary is directly quoted, or at least summarized from Dr. Ron Paul’s Liberty Defined and Dr. Paul Rahe’s Soft Despotism: Democracy’s Drift.