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Offensive "Republic"?

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By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

July 4, 2023, I was at the Jefferson Memorial for a special event that included a reading of the Declaration of Independence, of which I was the final reader.  At the event I had the blessed opportunity to meet a number of great people, including actors portraying Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Frederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincoln.  Of those characters, I recognized the importance of three of them being present, but Lincoln’s presence slightly confused me.  Thomas Jefferson was an incredibly important figure regarding Independence Day because he was the author of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington was important because he was the Commander in Chief of the American Forces during the War for Independence, and Frederick Douglass was important since he was a defender of the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution once he educated himself and realized that they were documents designed to begin the process of the abolition of slavery.  Abraham Lincoln, however, during his political career, stood in opposition to the republican form of government as it was originally designed, ignoring the Enumeration Doctrine which is supported by the Tenth Amendment, the Separation of Powers as supported by the worded “vested” in the first three articles of the Constitution, and the sovereignty of the States when it came to their voluntary membership of the Union of which he viewed as being a “firm union,” which, in his mind, made the use of “secession” by the eleven states that departed from the Union to form the Confederate States of America an illegal and treasonous action.

At the event in Washington D.C. on July 4th, in addition to the reading of the Declaration of Independence, the actors provided short speeches.  When the actor portraying President Abraham Lincoln took the microphone, he discussed the importance of the Union and the concept that “All Men are Created Equal.”  His presentation was a mixture of his own words, plus bits and pieces from various speeches presented by the Sixteenth President of the United States before the War Between the States, and during it.  I recognized most of the lines, and at one point when the actor playing Lincoln called the United States a “democracy,” I was pretty sure the line he was regurgitating was actually one during which the original Lincoln called the United States a “republic.”

I am not suggesting that Abraham Lincoln was a champion of “republicanism” in the sense that the word was meant by the Founding Fathers, because for the most part, he was not.  In fact, largely due to his political influence, the United States changed from “The United States Are” (a union of states; a republican form of government with independent states that are members of a voluntary union governed by a federal system with only limited authorities granted to, and recognized by, the central government) to the “United States Is” (a national form of government with dependent states who are members of a firm union ruled over by a national government under which all power has been consolidated and the states are mere provinces).  That said, while he was not perfect in his understanding of the American System, and he desired to move us toward an oligarchy, I seem to remember that he called the United States a “republic” more often than a “democracy.”

According to the Friends of the Lincoln Collection, “in the vast collected writings of Abraham Lincoln, the word ‘democracy’ occurs just 137 times.”  I have no number for the usage of the word “republic” in his speeches and writings.

In the Gettysburg Address Lincoln called the government of the United States a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  One might recognize that particular explanation as possibly being an indirect way of saying that the United States is a democracy.

Early on those who stood against America’s federal republic being constructed in such a manner to preserve liberty and limit the powers of the central government by promoting oversight over the federal government by the States, recognized that State Sovereignty and the Enumeration Doctrine (federal authorities limited to only the powers expressly enumerated in the U.S. Constitution) as being among the main obstacles standing in the way of their statist goals.  “Democracy” was the key to dismantle those mechanisms, so from the very beginning the history of the American political system is filled with battles that ushered into motion a gradual democratization of the American republic.  Andrew Jackson was the President who took that progression and kicked it into high gear by dismantling a number of mechanisms of republicanism, including the fact that originally there was no popular vote when it came to the Electoral College.  Because of the rise of Jacksonian Democracy, the once Jeffersonian Republican Party at that time changed its name to the Democratic-Republicans, and then to the Democratic Party.  Andrew Jackson is the father of the modern Democratic Party.

Lincoln never really explicitly said that America was a democracy, however, because at that point “democracy” was still a political system that was largely recognized as being dangerous if left unfettered and able to roam the halls of government without checks and balances typically associated with a republican from of government.

In the presidential elections of his time, Lincoln was not exactly assisted by democracy, anyway.  While he did indeed receive a larger share of the popular vote than any of the four candidates running in the election of 1860, he did not get over 50% of the national popular vote.  It was the not-so-democratic mechanisms of the Electoral College that carried him over the finish line.  

Getting back to the original point of this article, it was not that Lincoln made a big deal about the difference between a democracy or a republic, but that in the particular speech that the actor was reciting, I remember the word “republic” being used in the original speech by the President, rather than the word “democracy.”  In a conversation later with someone about it, the response I received from the person who is not necessarily a fan of the Constitution, was kind of a surprise.  “The actor may have replaced ‘republic’ with ‘democracy’ because the word 
‘republic’ is offensive.”

My first reaction was, “What?!!!”

How could the word “republic” be offensive?  When we recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, don’t we do so “to the republic for which it stands”?

For years I have been commenting about how the Founding Fathers never intended this country to be a democracy.  Five times in the Federalist Papers James Madison explains the difference between a republic and a democracy because the Hamiltonian forces calling for a consolidation of power in the federal government were claiming there was no difference between the two.  My latest book, which I wrote in the hopes of helping people understand the difference between a republic and a democracy is called, “Repeal Democracy.”  Democracy is not a proper word for what the United States is, it is the problem!  Yet, throughout the mainstream media, academia, the political class, and in the lexicon being used by the general public, the word “democracy” is the most common label for our system of government.

Drives me nuts!

And now, I am being told that the word “republic” is offensive?

Of course it is.  The people working to fundamentally change the United States into something the Framers of the Constitution never intended recognize that to turn America into an oligarchy, they must first put in place a pure democracy.  All republican mechanisms must be obliterated, and any thoughts that we are supposed to be a republic must be shot down and eliminated.  What better way to kill something than to accuse it of being offensive — especially in a culture where over-sensitivity to saying things that might offend someone is being targeted and canceled faster than one can try to figure out a way to explain that it isn’t offensive in the first place?

It is no surprise that Karl Marx, in not so many words, but essentially through his writings, said that “democracy” is the road to socialism.  

The word “democracy” does not appear in the U.S. Constitution, nor the Declaration of Independence, even once.  The Founding Fathers recognized the folly of too much democracy.  Yes, there were some democratic procedures mixed into our unique form of government as established by the United States Constitution; such as the election of members of the House of Representatives at the federal level.  At the State level the elections of governors and the State House of Representatives were also performed in a democratic manner.    However, pure democracy was not applied to presidential elections, Senate elections, judicial posts, state senate seats, or many other posts considered to be “high offices.”  Why?  Because too much democracy always leads to fifty-one percent of the population voting away the rights of the other forty-nine percent.  John Adams quipped that there has never been a democracy that didn’t commit suicide, and in the Federalist Papers James Madison explained that democracies are short in their lives and violent in their deaths.  Yet, now we have strayed so far from the original intent of the Constitution that when someone calls us a “democracy,” it’s accepted as the truth without much opposition.  The enemy knows that democracy is their road to tyranny, so they have used the centuries to maneuver us into a position where calling the word “republic” offensive is not only accepted, but if someone like me says otherwise, it is relatively easy to then label such an offender as using “offensive speech,” and that such a person is a “conspiracy theorist” who dares to say things that is not acceptable not only in the public domain, but is rejected by folks who are “credentialed,” and have a long list of alphabet soup after their names because of all of the faulty education they’ve received.

Despite all of that, I say again, “We were designed to be a republic, not a democracy.  Democracy is the problem.”

Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary


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