Benjamin Franklin’s famous answer to the question about whether the Constitutional Convention of 1787 produced a republic or a monarchy is said to have been, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Yes, a republic and more precisely, a constitutional republic meaning it’s based on a set of written rules. In fact, in Article IV, Section 4 of those rules, the Constitution states, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government…”ensuring that not just the federal government but the states as well are all republics.
Republic though we are, what we hear all around us increasingly now is democracy. Our Democracy being the preferred form. You cannot go two clicks in any direction online without tripping over that term. Candidates out on the midterm campaign trail invoke it to warn against voting for their opponents. It’s all over the media. The House passed the Protecting Our Democracy Act (HR 5314) in the fall of 2021 and while the bill languishes in the Senate, the term marches on. It’s the old ploy of getting people to feel something is theirs so they’ll be personally invested and protective. Our Democracy.
But why make democracy such a thing when we are a constitutional republic? It is not simply a substitution of terms or use of a vogue word as when George W. Bush selected Dick Cheney to be his running mate in 2000 and suddenly the word gravitas was attached to everything that moved. While there has always been a shorthand of sorts in calling the United States a democracy, the majority of the usage now is clearly deliberate. Someone, a bunch of someones actually, wants democracy to be firmly planted in people’s minds. Again, Our Democracy. Let’s call them the Our Democracy cabal.
The Our Democracy cabal wants and expects that like most things, the tendency is away from precise definitions. That’s for eggheads. Don’t be such a purist, they say. This isn’t a political science classroom. It’s the real world. People are busy raising families and working hard to make ends meet. They don’t have time to worry about how the country is referred to. And really, democracy, republic. Potato, potahto.
Well, what is a democracy? In simplest terms, it is rule by majority vote. Your side has more votes, your side wins and the other side loses. On the surface, it seems the most fair of all systems. Convince more people you’re right than the other guy and you win. If the other guy were better at convincing, he’d win. Essentially finders keepers, losers weepers. You lost, too bad.
The Framers, though, never saw democracy and republic as potato, potahto. What they learned from their exhaustive study of prior governments was that democracy is far more than just winning and losing votes. A democracy has dangers, existential dangers, inherent in it. James Madison had strong words about a democracy when he said,
“Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.”
Majority rule concerned the Framers so much that they not only specifically created a constitutional republic and included that guarantee to the states of a republican form of government in Article IV, but they also included a number of safeguards elsewhere in the Constitution such as the Senate itself where every state regardless of size has equal representation, the requirement of supermajorities in Congress for major actions like treaty ratification and veto overrides, and, of course, the Electoral College for selecting the President.
Underlying every one of those is the notion that the majority will consider only its interests with no regard and no recourse for the minority. What seems like the fairest system falls apart when you follow matters to their logical conclusion: The majority in a democracy can vote to eliminate the minority. There is nothing to stop them.
That is a chilling thought. Yet we have the Our Democracy cabal pushing democracy this, democracy that. They’ve been quite successful in getting the term out in general usage. Turn on talk radio where conservatives dominate and you will hear democracy used to describe the country and issues framed around it. You would think they would know better and you would be wrong.
Of course, the Our Democracy cabal has the answer to any claims of a nefarious plot. They’re just using the term because more people understand democracy than understand republic and being understood in a campaign is more important than being precisely accurate. That they have been pushing to supplant republic with democracy in the popular lingo for years is of no concern to you.
Years? Yes, close to 15 years going back to November 4, 2008 when Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States and began making good on his promise to fundamentally transform the United States of America as soon as he took the oath of office on January 20, 2009.
The plan by Obama and the left was for him to put things into place over his two terms—which he did in many ways with DACA, replacing the top levels of military warriors with social justice warriors, and, of course, Obamacare—and then have the Democrat winner in 2016 continue the transformation over the next two terms by which time it would be complete. No one counted on Donald J. Trump being elected instead of Hillary Clinton in 2016 and temporarily derailing the Obama transformation.
With Joe Biden in the White House since January 2021, the transformation plan is back on track as his administration follows through on what is essentially the third Obama term in office. They came into office reversing Trump policies from literally the first moment with the elimination of the Keystone Pipeline and drilling in ANWR, and it’s been a steady march of reversing Trump policies whether it’s the border, international relations, or the economy.
Accompanying the administrative transformation has been that verbal transformation of the country, this constitutional republic, into a democracy, and again, Our Democracy. Moreover, the usage has evolved into elaboration on just what that means because what stands in the way of democracy has to be removed which requires highlighting how they are anti-democratic. To accomplish this, the Our Democracy cabal has settled on using three points of entry—the Electoral College, the Supreme Court, and the filibuster in the Senate.
There has always been an undercurrent about the Electoral College that occasionally splashed to the surface concerning how it works exactly as intended in not allowing large states to dominate Presidential elections due to their population and thereby render the smaller states insignificant. Invariably, such surfacing comes in the form of people complaining how the Electoral College invalidates “one person, one vote” because a candidate can win the popular vote for President but lose the Electoral College vote. Again, this is by design. Had the Framers wanted the President to win by popular vote, they surely would not have created the Electoral College and saved a bunch of ink in the Constitution specifying how it works.
Since 2016 and Donald Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton where he won more electoral votes while she won more popular votes, the undercurrent has really come to the surface. In fact, 15 states have entered into an agreement—the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact—to award their electors to the winner of the popular vote. It will ultimately fail because end runs around the Constitution are unconstitutional and this is an end run to elect the President by popular vote. Nevertheless, it reflects significant gains made by the Our Democracy cabal in having states representing almost a little over 70% (195) of the 270 electoral votes needed to win on board with their scheme.
The Supreme Court is truly a democracy where the majority carries the day which begs the question how can it be a point of entry for the Our Democracy cabal when it already is a democracy? The answer lies in the remedy proposed by the left to fix what they say is wrong with the Supreme Court. What is wrong, of course, is that they don’t like being on the losing end of decisions. Their remedy is simple: pack the Court with more liberal justices than conservative justices to ensure decisions go their way. The proposed number of justices ranges between 13 and 15 providing the left, given the current makeup of the Court with five Conservative justices (Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Barrett, and Kavanaugh), clear majorities of 8-5 at the low end and 10-5 at the high end.
No doubt, there are variations in these proposals that envision a graduated process to expand the Court, but the loudest voices are for quickly expanding the number of justices and confirming them while the Democrats hold the Senate and the White House. Those voices aren’t clamoring to place clones of Solomon on the high court, but instead highly partisan justices who will legally rubber stamp the left’s wish list. Look around at the dubious opinions from law professors on the left who regularly weigh in not just the 2nd Amendment being applicable only outdated but the Constitution itself. Giving them the power of judicial review is giving them the power to review the Constitution out of existence.
In the 1939 classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the climactic scene of the film has screen legend James Stewart doing an impassioned, one man, 25 hour non-stop filibuster complete with him fainting from exhaustion to end it. That scene has created in many people’s minds to this day what a filibuster is—the minority working against the odds to level the playing field against the majority and stave off certain defeat. Leaving aside the way the filibuster has become more of a technical action than a physical action of senators speaking at length or otherwise, it remains the minority having some way to counter the majority.
The Our Democracy cabal has other ideas about the filibuster. They label it as anti-democratic and a danger. They are right, at least about the anti-democratic part in that prevents the majority from just steamrolling the minority but not about the danger except to their aims. The cabal is also hypocritical in only finding Republican filibusters to be anti-democratic and a danger. The moment the Senate moves to a Republican majority, the filibuster will be the most valuable thing preserving Our Democracy. Just wait and see. But until then, it has to go.
The three points of entry—Electoral College, Supreme Court, and filibuster—provide the Our Democracy cabal with both a multi-front attack to keep their opponents scrambling and a way to pick up supporters for their overall plan by attracting people who have individual grievances against each of the three points of entry. By framing the three as threats to Our Democracy, the cabal gets everyone speaking the same language even when they’re talking about different things and allied with the larger cause.
You can just hear the cries of, “No! That’s not anything we would do. We’re talking about voting for people to get into office and legislation in the Senate. We believe in fairness and we certainly wouldn’t vote to get rid of anyone.” Gee, when you put it like that, my bad. Why would I think you’d be in favor of that?
Well, let’s see. Doing away with the Electoral College would greatly empower the large population states at the expense of the smaller states because protestations aside, Californians and New Yorkers aren’t particularly interested in Wyoming’s or Arkansas’s interests and Presidential candidates would not be as well. A packed Supreme Court will legally rubber stamp the left’s wish list of unconstitutional laws making them constitutional. That leaves the filibuster and just by the nature of the effort there to remove it, the minority loses its admittedly small ability to do anything about its interests against the majority.
In every instance, in the name of Our Democracy, the minority is pushed aside with no consideration, and once that takes firm hold as the law of the land, bad things will inevitably not just happen, but happen frequently and quickly. Like Saul holding the cloaks of the crowd stoning St. Stephen to death, the left held the cloaks of the social media giants who censored and banned those who question the election results of 2020—not 2000, 2004, and 2016, of course—as well as those who question the official positions on Covid and vaccines, and question the so-called consensus on climate change.
What you see there is the subtle way that tyranny moves in because removing protections of the minority requires more than simply having majority rule. It necessarily requires an enforcement regime to suppress the vanquished minority from continuing to assert themselves because they represent threats to, of course, Our Democracy. The cloak holders are already there soon to be joined by their newfound allies from the three points of entry who no more want dissenting voices to be heard against their fight for Our Democracy and will be happy to see them silenced and out of the way.
This is why it is so important not to blithely accept democracy as the way we describe the United States. It is, we are, a republic and we must keep it.