Principle 12: Constitutional Republic vs. Anarchic Democracy


The Twelfth Principle of Freedom ( Skousen, W. Cleon. ” The 5000 Year Leap,” pp. 153- 161) speaks of our Founders’ desire that the United States of America be a republic rather than a democracy. So, what’s wrong with a democracy and what’s right about a republic ( preferably one bolstered by a stabilizing constitution)?

Follies of a democracy

Let me be perfectly frank: a democracy is a preliminary state that will logically lead to mobocracy and then anarchy. The will of the majority prevails and there is so much interest invested in the rights of the people as a collective that individual rights tend to be ignored in the name of ” the people” (p. 157).
Democracy means that everybody has a voice in government and that the will of the majority will dictate policy. In an absolute sense, that means that the majority will dictate policy regardless of how well ( or ill) informed the majority actually is on the circumstances that would lead to the implementation of such policy.
Laws become determined by majority whim, without regard to what such laws might mean for the minority that may dissent from passing such laws. This means that the minority will be suppressed by the voices of the majority. They would be perfectly within their rights to decree laws that would silence dissenters to soothe the fears of the majority.
In the early years of the twentieth century, a society was established by certain people in New York who were rather keen on advancing the United States of America as a democracy which they hoped would fairly quickly become a socialist state: The Intercollegiate Socialist Society ( pp.157- 60). In a democracy, socialism would be a perfectly acceptable outcome if that was what the majority of the people voted for.

The advantages inherent in a republican system

In a republic, the will of the people is expressed through the representatives that they elect to protect their interests. Suffrage, then, must be universal so that the great body of people ( rather than a select few) may be represented by trustworthy people who may be relied upon to administer the offices that they are elected to in an honorable and lawful manner (pp. 154-55).
The best way to safeguard the existence of a republic is to have a Constitution that spells out people’s rights in a specific and detailed way. Those rights would then be protected by a system of laws that would be enacted with the best interests of the population in mind. All of the population would be protected, not a ” majority,” but everybody ( 157- 58).
Republics have a workable system of laws that may be equally applied over all the territory claimed and run by such governments. They may then efficiently provide for the well- being of the people those republics are meant to represent and protect. This is in stark contrast to democracies, which may only be workable for small populations over a certain period of time ( 154).
When a republican system is followed, there are safeguards in place that assure the rights and privileges of the governed, while those who do the governing are limited in their power by the very laws that they propose and pass.


So we see that democracy can be very little other than a prelude to anarchy, demagoguery or even tyranny without the safeguards that a republican government tends to put in place to prevent such decadence. Republics are vastly more stable than democracies through the rule of law protected by a Constitutional framework. Today, people tend to conflate our Republic with democracy without distinction, which is unfortunate and attributable to people who actively worked against what our Founding Fathers were trying to achieve ( 159- 61).

That being said, we may take comfort in the fact that today, there is a movement of people who are trying to return us to the Constitutional Republican principles that our forefathers and those who represented them sought to establish in the eighteenth century. Education and research are undoing much of an agenda that had proven itself flawed when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.