Monday, April 21, 2008

Democracy & America

Something that gets thrown around a lot by the left and by the right is this idea that America is supposed to be a "democracy", as if that is the highest directive. When Gore lost the 2000 election, "where's the democracy?" got asked a lot. When a very, very loud minority thought they were a majority because of the disproportionate coverage they were getting opposing the Iraq invasion didn't get their way, "where's the democracy?"

The right is guilty of this kind of thing, too, because sometime over the last 200 years "democracy" has been elevated in our collective mind to a level beyond the intentions of our founding fathers.

We get to vote on certain issues directly. We get to vote for people to represent us. And we get to vote on a person to lead us. Those people get to pick judges whose job it is to keep what they do inline with the framework of the Constitution.

Most young people today (and far too many older ones as well) would be surprised to learn that America isn't primarily about Democracy. Never was. Rather, the United States of America is a Constitutional Republic, and it is about Liberty. Democracy is a tool for the people to provide input into the terms and constraints on that Liberty -- but democracy itself is limited by the Federal and State constitutions.

And incidentally, the Bill of Rights lays out 10 specific things this Democracy can't touch.

The second of which has been touched far too much in the past 50 or 60 years.

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