"Republic. I like the sound of the word. It means people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose.
Some words give you a feeling. Republic is one of those words that makes me tight in the throat.
The same tightness a man gets when his baby takes his first step, or his first baby shaves, and makes his first sound like a man.
Some words can give you a feeling that make your heart warm. Republic is one of those words.
-John Wayne, “The Alamo”
As the events of the “First 100 Days” continue to unfold, I find that many of the really BIG mistakes (by which I mean ‘those likely to have the farthest-reaching negative effects on the fabric of our country) to which I am forced to bear witness seem to have a single common thread – that they stem from a loss of understanding of one very basic precept that has guided the very existence of our nation – perhaps “The” basic precept:
The United States of America is a Republic.
You’ll notice that I said “loss of understanding” rather than “lack of understanding” – that was on purpose, because it is something our elected officials used to know, but seem to have lost – It’s also something that cannot adequately be imparted, but something that may be regained by people familiar enough to recognize it.
At its heart, the problem is that they seem to have fallen into a trap of shoddy linguistics, so that they have come to mistake our “Republic” for a “Democracy”, confusing the essence of each as many people confuse the terms themselves, considering them to be synonyms … which they most assuredly are not.
In the immortal words of MuscleDaddy-the-Elder: “Let’s Review”
The difference between a Republic and a Democracy lies in their respective sources of official power.
A “Republic” is a political entity governed by a charter, which directs a restricted group (citizens) to elect representatives who will govern the state. Republics are free societies precisely because they are bound by their charters, which restrict the responsibilities and powers of the state.
It is this restriction, along with the legal consistency and rationality of the charter, as well as the people’s willingness to observe and live by it, that keeps people free.
A “Democracy” is a government whose prevailing force is always that of the majority. There is still a restricted group (citizens) in a democracy, but this group rules directly and personally runs everything. The group may delegate specific tasks to individuals, (governorships, etc) but there is no question that the ruling force in a democracy is not a charter, but the vote of the majority.
Unbound by any sort of charter, democracies are free only so long as the citizen-rulers are consistent in their application of freedom. If the citizens (or, more specifically, a majority of the citizens) come to a point where they no longer understand what freedom is then the mob-rule of a democracy can slide into a tyranny every bit as complete as any central-planning dictatorship (think: Socrates' suicide, forced by the “democracy” in Athens.)
The United States of America is, and has always been, a Republic – bound by the charter of the United States Constitution which, by its design, limits the amount and type of power the government may wield over the individual.
This is where the understanding has been “lost” among our elected officials, who have either fallen to the siren-cries of mob-rule or (and infinitelty worse) are using its cacophony to mask their own intended movements.
Examples of this abound, but two of the most glaring and blatant examples have intersected with current events in just the past several days.
Consider H.R. 1388 – the camouflage-named “GIVE Act”.
I wrote about this one the other day – pointing out that while none of its provisions are specifically “Mandatory” in themselves right now it is, at best, economically coercive - and very plainly lays all of the necessary groundwork and installs the necessary infrastructure to open the door to making its form of “volunteerism” mandatory in the future.
But, however “good” it might make a democratic-majority majority “feel” to pass into law a bill that so prominently speaks of “volunteerism”, the merest suggestion – the slightest hint – of making any form of work “Mandatory” for American citizens should have seen this piece of legislation squashed… by the binding charter of our country:
United States Constitution
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
“Mandatory Volunteerism” makes no provision for a person’s desire (or lack of) to volunteer – it is simply “mandatory”, and as such goes directly against the country’s binding charter of the United States Constitution and our Republic (by design) has no power to impose it.
Consider H.R. 1586 – the so-called Bonus Tax bill.
Aside from all of the finger-pointing-outrage of who may have “allowed” the situation at AIG to develop as it has, the form and function of this proposed law (and make no mistake, tax-law is LAW) is writ plainly on its cover:
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 18, 2009
To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients.
“..certain TARP recipients” - plainly singling out specific individuals, and when combined with the last line of the bill:
g) Effective Date- This section shall apply to disqualified bonus payments received after December 31, 2008, in taxable years ending after such date.
…again, leaves it in such direct opposition to our nation’s binding charter of the United States Constitution, that it never should have seen the light-of-day:
United States Constitution
Article I, section 9, clause 3:
“No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.”
In the context of the Constitution, a "Bill of Attainder" refers to a bill that has a negative effect on a single person or group (say, a specific group of people from a specific handful of companies) – while ‘ex post facto’ naturally refers to making a law against a specific act or situation after it has already occurred, so that it may now be made subject under the law “after the fact” (say, enacting a law today that makes subject an act or occurrence from 3 months ago).
However “justified” the outrage of the mob, waving their signs and shouting their chants in the streets, may be,
However badly our elected officials may want “do-overs” for their own mistakes or malfeasance,
However fair-or-unfair it may be spun-up by the media to seem at the time...
None of that matters when exerting the authority and power of government.
We Are Still A Republic.
…not just when we like the outcome – not only when the media-led public outrage agrees.
We Are Still A Republic.
…and we follow our own rules for a reason.
“Now I may sound like a Bible beater yelling up a revival at a river crossing camp meeting, but that don't change the truth none. There's right and there's wrong. You got to do one or the other. You do the one and you're living. You do the other and you may be walking around, but you're dead as a beaver hat.”
- John Wayne
When the man's right, he's right.