MythBusters Case#18: Republican Skeleton, Democrat Heart

Posted: September 23, 2012 in History Lessons
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The media uproar over Mitt Romney’s hapless comment that the 47% of Americans who pay no income tax will vote for Obama is close to the heart of what really ails America.

Although Mitt Romney didn’t carry it this far, we are approaching that point in the Hegelian dialectic where Democracy self-destructs.  Ann Coulter, writing in World Net Daily, drew the obvious conclusions:

“Thanks to the myopia of our one-party media, most journalists are firmly convinced that voters will be appalled by Romney’s description of 47 percent of Americans as supporting Obama because they pay no income tax.

But the only people shocked by Romney’s statement of fact are those who would never vote Republican under any circumstances. Everyone else is saying, “Is it really as high as 47 percent?” – as the media impotently shouts, “No, you idiot! That’s not the point!”

There’s going to come a time, in the not-distant future, when it’s 51 percent paying no income tax. And when that happens, the party of big government will never lose another election. “

In spite of this logical fact of political life, many Christian conservatives continue to insist that America was established as a republic.  As usual, the discrepancy between the mythical past, and present poor performance is held to be an alleged departure from the original intent of the founding founders.  The latter have attained near demi-god status in the eyes of most Christian conservatives.

Myth:  Because the founding fathers established America as a republic, it is incorrect to refer to American government as a democracy

The initial step in this MythBusters’ investigation was some historical reflection.  We first noticed that Mitt Romney’s observation was nothing more than a restatement of a famous quotation, over 200 years old.

The Evils of Democracy

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.  From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”  Alexander Tytler, a Scottish born British attorney.

It is true that the Founding Fathers did claim to “guarantee every state in this union a republican form of government” (Art. IV).  But we noticed that the guarantee does not explicitly include the national government itself.

The Constitution gives the impression – on the surface at least – that its structure is designed to impose republican limits on government power. The three branches are said to check and balance each others’ powers.  And the federal form is supposed to give Congress limited, delegated powers, with all others reserved to the states.  Legislators are elected to represent their constituents, which is the key feature of a republic

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Moreover, other statements of the founding fathers indicate a clear distaste for democracy.  For example,

  • “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.” — John Adams
  • “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!” — Benjamin Franklin
  • “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%.”  — Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison called democracy the “tyranny of the majority”

Added to this is the testimony of scripture when Korah issued a democratic challenge to Moses:  “…You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” (Num. 16:3).

God was less than impressed by this Democratic argument.  In fact, He was barely restrained from destroying the entire congregation, but instead opened the earth to swallow Korah alive and all that was his.

Republican Skeleton, Democratic Heart

Nonetheless, whether the founders intended it or not, MythBusters research found that  government created by the United States Constitution is democratic at its core.  Democracy is by definition “a system of government of the whole population” (Oxford American Dictionary).   In a pure democracy the people vote on every issue and the government draws its authority from the body of the people rather than from God.

By contrast, a Biblical government would acknowledge its authority to be from God alone.  “…For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Rmn. 13:1).

The founders  relied heavily on John Locke and Locke denied the verity of the above verse in his chapter “On the Beginnings of Political Societies” in the “Second Treatise of Government.”  Locke asserted “…that which begins and actually constitutes any political society is nothing but the consent of any number of freemen capable of a majority to unite and incorporate into such a society.  And this is that, and that only which did or could give beginning to any lawful government in the world.”

Locke calls this the social compact or social contract.  Notice that it is founded exclusively on the consent of the majority — “that and that only.”  As noted above this is the essence of Democracy.

The preamble of the U. S. Constitution matches this template exactly when it affirms that “we the people…do ordain and establish this Constitution….”  Democracy is affirmed, God is thereby rejected, and all the trappings of Republicanism in the end come to nothing.

Case Closed:  While the Constitution may have the skeleton of a republic it has the heart of a democracy.  It is the heart that controls.  It is a heart not governed or limited by the law of God.  Every republican restraint will be undermined and evaded until all that is left is the individual against the raw power of the state, embodied  in the majority.

Mitt Romney is faced with this stark  reality.  History MythBusters concludes that the myth America was established as a republic is a half truth at best.  The only escape from the inevitable “followed by a dictatorship” is to humble ourselves as a nation under the mighty hand of God and return to his law in our system of justice.

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