To my surprise an essay I wrote back in 2002, America: Republic or Democracy, has become pretty popular on the net. It comes up high at Google search, given you type in republic, democracy, and America for search terms. About 750 people looked at it in September, which is trivial by Paris Hilton standards but not bad for a political essay at an obscure Web site.
I noted another essay on the same topic, A Republic, Not a Democracy, by Republican Party presidential candidate Ron Paul, which was written back in 2000. Ron Paul comes out squarely against democracy. That in itself should be ugly enough to stop a presidential campaign in its tracks. But there are a few things I agree with Ron Paul on. He's a serious guy. Instead of dismissing his argument, I am going to dissect it. If you are squeamish now is a good time to click over to something funny at YouTube.
Ron Paul claims "Our Founders instituted a republican system to protect individual rights and property rights from tyranny." He defends the Republican system as being on the same order as the Bill of Rights. He claims the individual rights of minorities are endangered by majority rule or democracy.
But only a fool would swallow such reasoning. What a Republic always establishes is the rule of the few over the many. It does not protect everyone's individual rights: it protects the rights of the ruling minority. The Liberty of the minority becomes the subjugation of the majority. The only thing Ron Paul and I agree upon, within this topic, is that the federal government, under the Constitution, was designed that way.
The minority of 1789 given power by the U.S. Constitution were mainly descendants of European aristocrats, though some were from merchant families or had made it in the U.S. despite humbler ancestry. Who were they establishing power over? Women, for sure. Native American Indians. Slaves from Africa. White slaves (indentured servants). And, in fact, most white men, because most white men did not have enough property to qualify to vote.
Liberty is an ugly thing when it is the liberty to own slaves, to prevent women from owning property, to grab Indian lands protected by treaties, and to crush poorer white men under your boot with laws and a swarm of lawyers.
How many slaves did Patrick Henry own when he said, "Give me liberty or give me death?" Over forty.
Ron Paul is the sort of spineless pawn of the rich (I think he is rich himself) whose job as a politician is to shift all costs to the working citizens and all profits to the investor and managerial class. His freedom is your slavery.
I'll take democracy any day. I believe the rights of individuals and minority groups are important. But I don't see where that obligates me to assign to the rich the right to write laws that make them even richer and make the bulk of us poorer.
If one of Patrick Henry's slaves, or George Washington's slaves, or Thomas Jefferson's slaves had said, "Give me Liberty or Give me Death," it would ring through the centuries with a sweeter sound.
Ron Paul's advocacy against democracy is advocacy for bad government. It advocates special privileges for the rich that are denied the rest of us.