America: A Republic, Not a Democracy

Historically, the Democratic Party has been home to revolutionaries who refer to America as a democracy in order to move the country toward a point where majority rules, a point where the Constitution no longer stands in the way of their agenda. These revolutionaries, such as the people who filled the ranks of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) during the 1960s and who comprise groups like Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS) and Democracy For America (DFA) today, gather knowledge on how to use democracy to undercut the rule of law from the writings of men like Vladimir Lenin.

In pushing for the Bolshevik Revolution of the early 20th century, Lenin used democracy to weaken the Russian government and to simultaneously stir up class warfare to irreversible levels. He pleaded first for democracy, then a broadened democracy, and finally a democracy that favored the downtrodden. Relying heavily on the tactic of shaming one’s opponents into submission, Lenin praised the universal aspects of democracy only to criticize them as insufficient once they were achieved: “It is sheer mockery of the working and exploited people to speak of pure democracy, of democracy in general, of equality, freedom and universal rights when the workers and all working people are ill-fed, ill-clad, ruined and worn out.”

In Lenin’s words and historical example we see that those who use democracy to achieve their ends are necessarily insatiable in their push for change and their appetite for power. (Sound familiar?) They are would-be tyrants who pit one group of citizens against another, and essentially destroy the country in order to remake it.

Such men prove that democracy is transitory -- it is a tool that allows revolutionaries and despots to transform nations according to their own wishes. And because it is transitory, it is temporal. This is clear if we consider that former democratic countries like Cuba, China, North Korea, and North Vietnam are no longer democratic (or are democratic in name only).

That our Founding Fathers were well aware of the temporality of democracy was evident in the words of America’s second president, John Adams, who said: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

Our Founders saw the dangers that democracy posed for our great experiment in freedom and risked “[their] Lives, [their] Fortunes, and [their] sacred Honor” to create a republic instead. It is to honor them and preserve our own liberty that we don’t just pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States, but also to “the republic for which it stands.”