The US Is Not A Democracy
Founded on Federalism, It's a Republic
Just a quick point of information. I read an article this morning in the Financial Times. I guess I shouldn’t expect a British-published paper to fully grasp the fundamental principles of the US founding. They didn’t get it back in 1774 either. The reporter was retiring his column and was talking about how democracy had changed in the 25 years he wrote it. When he started, the USSR tumbled and the Iron Curtain fell. China was liberalizing its economy.
Today, it’s different.
His point was that the US and other “free” nations were democracies. He’s part right. In the US we do engage in a democratic vote to elect representatives and most judges. One man, one vote. But, we aren’t a “democracy”. True democracies fall apart and become totalitarian. Any study of the classical Greeks and Roman empires ought to give you a hint at that.
No, the US is a “republic”. Its founding is based on “federalism”.
For people that don’t understand federalism, here is a way to think about it in its purest form. Federalism is decentralized government with decentralized power.
Federalism empowers local governments over a centralized national government.
We don’t have that in the US today. We have a very powerful centralized national government and weak state and local governments.
A lot of the fighting that is going on politically in the US is over the role of the centralized government. How much power should it have over our lives?
The folks in power today want a lot of control. When your Secretary of the Treasury thinks banks ought to monitor $600 transactons between individuals you are on a very different path than the one the founder’s traced when they envisioned a decentralized government.
It turns out, a decentralized government rooted in federalism gives individuals a lot of freedom. With that freedom comes responsibility for your actions. The founders created the Judicial branch to have an objective place for that responsibility to be adjudicated. Of course, the people in power today have corrupted that judiciary to rule by fiat, usurping the freedom and responsibility of the individual.
As the government becomes more and more centralized, only people with existing wealth can rise above the power. The rest of the citizens get weighed down by the force and reach of government and only by the use of crony capitalism can they get ahead.
Currently, we are on a very wrong track for the future of the freedom-loving part of the world. The shining beacon on the hill is dimmer than it used to be. There are lots of people that want to put it out.