Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Advantages of a Democratic Republic

"Democracy is the worst form of government, save all others" Winston Churchill.

Of course here in the United States we don't live in a democracy. We live in a republic. In a pure democracy all the citizens vote on every issue. That may have served ancient Athens well, but for larger societies it is too cumbersome to work.
A representative republic, where the citizens choose those who run the government, is the only way modern societies can function. It's worked reasonably well here since 1787, better than any other form of government on this planet.

In judging forms of government the central question is what is the role, if any, of the average citizen? For millennia all over the world the citizens were considered the property of the ruling class, be it a Monarch, Dictator, or Oligarchy. In these societies the Zeitgeist is "A People of the Government, for the Government and by the Government" many modern countries have adopted one of these forms and while decisions can be made rapidly, all are on the path to ruin.

A single leader, no matter how wise or benevolent, will eventually fall victim to Lord Acton's axiom "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

In a democratic republic the government is controlled by the people through their representatives leading to The United States motto "A Government of the people, by the people, and for the people" In other words the government is owned and run by the populace. This has two disadvantages. Political decisions take longer to be adopted than in totalitarian states, but usually are more practical. When Dictators make a mistake, it's usually a big one. Republics because of the compromise needed to accomplish anything rarely make fatal decisions. The weakness of democratic republics is they can only last until the populace realizes they can vote themselves bread and circuses. This is the problem Europe is facing today.

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Welllllll..... James, I'd have to observe that everything depends on how you define 'circus'. It's patently obvious to me that continental Europe voted themselves out of the Anglo-American circus in Iraq.

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