Rule by Law vs. Rule by Majority
Just after the completion and signing of the Constitution, in reply to a woman's inquiry as to the type of government the Founders had created, Benjamin Franklin said,
"A Republic, if you can keep it."
Not only have we failed to keep it, most don't even know what it is. A Republic is representative government ruled by law (the Constitution). A democracy is direct government ruled by the majority (mob rule). A Republic recognizes the inalienable rights of individuals while democracies are only concerned with group wants or needs (the public good). Lawmaking is a slow, deliberate process in our Constitutional Republic requiring approval from the three branches of government, the Legislative, Judicial and Executive. Lawmaking in our unlawful democracy occurs rapidly requiring approval from the whim of the majority as determined by polls and/or voter referendums.... Democracies always self-destruct when the non-productive majority realizes that it can vote itself handouts from the productive minority by electing the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury. To maintain their power, these candidates must adopt an ever-increasing tax and spend policy to satisfy the ever-increasing desires of the majority. As taxes increase, incentive to produce decreases, causing many of the once productive to drop out and join the non-productive. When there are no longer enough producers to fund the legitimate functions of government and the socialist programs, the democracy will collapse, always to be followed by a Dictatorship. Even though nearly every politician, teacher, journalist and citizen believes that our Founders created a democracy, it is absolutely not true. The Founders knew full well the differences between a Republic and a Democracy and they repeatedly and emphatically said that they had founded a republic.
Article IV Section 4, of the Constitution "guarantees to every state in this union a Republican form of government".... Conversely, the word Democracy is not mentioned even once in the Constitution. Madison warned us of the dangers of democracies with these words, "Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths...", "We may define a republic to be ... a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior. It is essential to such a government that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans and claim for their government the honorable title of republic." James Madison, Federalist No. 10, (1787)
"A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men." Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
Our military training manuals used to contain the correct definitions of Democracy and Republic. The following comes from Training Manual No. 2000-25 published by the War Department, November 30, 1928.
A government of the masses.
Authority derived through mass meeting or any other form of "direct" expression.
Results in mobocracy. Attitude toward property is communistic--negating property rights.
Attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether it be based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences. Results in demogogism, license, agitation, discontent, and anarchy.
Authority is derived through the election by the people of public officials best fitted to represent them. Attitude toward law is the administration of justice in accord with fixed principles and established evidence, with a strict regard to consequences. A greater number of citizens and extent of territory may be brought within its compass. Avoids the dangerous extreme of either tyranny or mobocracy. Results in statesmanship, liberty, reason, justice, contentment, and progress. Is the "standard form" of government throughout the world.
The manuals containing these definitions were ordered destroyed without explanation about the same time that President Franklin D. Roosevelt made private ownership of our lawful money (US Minted Gold Coins) illegal. Shortly after the people turned in their $20 gold coins, the price was increased from $20 per ounce to $35 per ounce. Almost overnight F.D.R., the most popular president this century (elected 4 times) looted almost half of this nation's wealth, while convincing the people that it was for their own good. Many of F.D.R.'s policies were suggested by his right hand man, Harry Hopkins, who said, "Tax and Tax, Spend and Spend, Elect and Elect, because the people are too damn dumb to know the difference". (Written by Gary McLeod, http://www.garymcleod.org/)
Ending Comments: I pledge a allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
So why did Jefferson call the American system a democratic-republic? Because the system allows the masses of qualified voters to participate in the election of their officials (democracy) and then the people's elected representatives enact the laws and administer the affairs of the people under majority rule but with the equal protection of individual rights (a republic). Is it a mistake, therefore, to call the United States a democracy? Yes. The only part of the American system which is borrowed from "democracy" is the popular election of government officials. Except for this, the Founders strongly emphasized the republican aspects of the American system. A republic places the responsibility for sound government and decision-making on the people's elected representatives rather than allowing the fluctuating and superficial emotions of the people to override law and order or the rights of minorities. The classical example of government functioning on republican principles and prevailing over "pure democracy" would be the case of a sheriff protecting a prisoner against a lynch mob. In essence a Democracy is two wolves and one lamb trying to decide what’s for super.