"...[O]ur sages in the great [constitutional] convention...
intended our government should be a republic
which differs more widely from a democracy
than a democracy from a despotism.
The rigours of a despotism often... oppress only a few,
but it is the very essence and nature of a democracy,
for a faction claiming to oppress a minority, and
that minority the chief owners of the property
and truest lovers of their country."
by:
Fisher Ames
(1758-1808), American statesman, orator and political writer
Source:
1805
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Reader comments about this quote:
When breaking down any form of governing down to its most base elements, there will always be some similarities. The only thing the founders' Constitutionally limited representative republic had/has in common with a democracy is each individual of each body politic may vote. That is where the similarity ends. Our republic is made up of individual equal sovereigns, and there is no perceived individual in the group-think of democracy. Rights are defined by the might of the majority in a democracy, while our Republic recognizes individually endowed unalienable rights. In a democracy the individual is slave to the majority as a mere part of a minority. A democracy is tyrannical, our Republic is liberating. A democracy employs compelled compliance, victimless crimes, license, governmental sponsored larceny with impunity and many other despotic practices while our representative Republic can not. A democracy is a government of men while our Republic is a government of law. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, the founders knew of what they were doing when they set up a government protecting the people from a democracy.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Democracies always become Mobocracies.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    What trash talk. I strongly object to the notion that "minoritiy property owners are the truest lovers of their country". History has shown that property owners and monied people (some of them) will go whereever they can get the biggest bang for the buck. When they lost their property rights to slaves they took their money north or to Europe and their residences also. Their is only one thing worse than a majority oppressing a minority it is when a minority oppresses a majority. This guy would have loved feudal times. In addition he knows nothing about semantics. A republic is especially in his time a government by the people, the word means back to the people. Re means return, so the word means return to the people, the people choose. Same thing as a democracy.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Waffler-----If the word means back to the people, what are a people? Before they become any people, they are individuals first. Understanding natural law and our Constitution and its purpose, the word republic, in its use to describe America's republic, means back to the individual. Not the same thing as a democracy. Our republic is unique in history for that very reason. This republic is based on self government and not the government of any ruler or rulers other than the individual and he too is subject to the natural laws that are respected and protected by our Constitution. A nation of laws that no man is above. Why do you design your posts to mislead? Oh that's right, I forgot. You have your life staked on America not discovering the truth. At least your finacial life anyway. It's sad because this system will fall apart of its own weight and instability in nature as the cycles of war and peace in the past teach us. Just rulers create peace thus happiness, unjust rulers create war thus the sufferings attached. Is there anybody suffering in America today from the effects of war or what one considers unjust actions of anykind? Sounds like a good question for a poll.
     -- Anon     
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    ..laughs.. We've been over this topic ad nauseam, and Waffler has yet to show me one quote from the Founders where they specifically spoke of "Democracy" encouragingly; in fact, they specifically hated Democracy. In fact, they went to great lengths to steer away from Democracy altogether; furthermore, in the original Constitution, the House of Representatives was the only office wherein the people actually voted for their Federal leaders -- not much a Democracy. Waffler, your assertion that "Re" in Republic is for a "return to the people" is comical at best. Thanks for playing, but you lose again. Even your hallowed wikipedia says that "Republic" is from the latin "Res Publica" meaning "public thing". Now, as of yet, you have NEVER answered the question I have repeatedly posed to you: If Democracies and Republics are one and the same thing -- as you have continuously blathered -- why does every Founding Father, political theorist, and political philosopher previous to the twentieth century always draw a clear and distinct line between the two forms of government? Why did Machiavelli and Madison speak extensively on the difference if there was no difference at all? Why did George Washington state that he would rather a Monarchy before a Democracy, but he praised Republics above all? Why did John Adams hate Democracy and praise Republics? Why does history show that Democracies never last longer than 200 years, but Republics last over 500 years? If you're right, how do you prove the majority to be wrong? You pompously proclaim that the only thing worse than an oppressed minority by the majority is its reverse, but yet you hypocritically assert your individual claim amidst a few contemporaries to absolutely redefine the whole spectrum and majority of history? Come now, Waffler, you must see your own hypocrisy? Certainly, you are free to assert your opinion to how business should be conducted today, and it is of no consequence if you deny the philosophy of America's foundation to promote what you think is a better ideal... but be honest about it. Don't show yourself to be the fool who merely re-interprets history because of your inability to resolve your own ideology with the past.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Fisher Ames knew what he was talking about. Mike, Logan, Anon have all explained the point well. I wouldn't try to convince Waffler about anything -- he knows very well that what you all are saying is true. He is a Marxist plant who has made it his own personal crusade to come to this Liberty site to attack, pervert, and twist the words of the founders to support communistic views. He will never get it because he has already got it and has decided to make war against his fellow Americans and to serve the Fabian cause for which he owes his livelihood. Perhaps this is giving him too much credit -- he probably is simply what most of us have percecived -- an ignoramus with a stick up his ass. BTW, 'property' is anything that you own, not just land, but your money, savings, equities, tools, transportation, i.e. all forms of POWER. Most people in America are debtors and therefore do not actually own anything much of consequence and are of course beholden to their creditors. Those that have not borrowed, those that have earned their living and acquired their property through their hard work deserve a government that will protect their property not lay claim to it. A democracy is nothing but the poorer classes voting themselves the property of those to whom they are in debt. Is the current 'system' skewed to make the poor poorer and the banks richer? YES! The system is rigged, and THAT is what needs to change. Americans have no control over their government -- and 'democracy' is burying this country for the so-called majority is merely being conned into believing perpetual bankruptcy is fine because we'll make the rich pay for it. ;-) Yeah, right, that has worked in the past -- not.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Logan-----Thanks for the correction about the defintion of republic, that's what I get for taking Waffler at his word about anything. The possibility of honesty from Waffler fades with every post he writes.
     -- Anon     
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    E Archer----My vote is "an ignoramus with a stick up his ass." A deliberate plant would have a much more sophisticated approach and not be so obviously making a fool of himself.
     -- Anon     
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    Ames believes the country is the land, Logan believes the country is the individual(s). I believe the country is the individual(s) who form the people. The minority were and may still be the chief owners of the property in Mexico and much of South America and dispossesed the natives, like we did to the Indians. So you call us European stock the true lovers of the country and the dispossed the greedy majority. Very interesting. I am thrilled that you all find be obnoxious and an affront to your unthinking lock step mintalities. Keep thinking and use your brains, maybe even get an education it would be good for y'all. The USA is a Democratic Republic Logan, check it out. Republic designates that within a territroial boundary the residents thereof our free of outside influence concerning their government. Now that republic's government could be dictatorship, aristocracy, monarchy, plutocracy etcetera, The USA has chosen Democracy. Prior to the current meaning of republic it however had a much more radical meaning as in the French Republic, "off with their heads, seize their property, crush the church" etc. The great majority of the people took over from the special interests of King, nobels, and church.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    But do not fall into the trap of associating the French Revolutions definition of Republic with the American concept; they were not the same. This was one of the very strong reasons why George Washington would not support the French in their revolution while he was President, even after the French had come to assist us in ours: the foundation, principle, and operation of the Governments were not the same; the French had taken a premise of Democracy in their Republic, and the United States had taken the premise of law. It's a political "twinkie" slogan to even claim the United States as a "Democratic Republic"; it sounds nice, tastes good, and seems like something desirable, but is completely void of any real substance. It is a phrase that was nowhere uttered or even considered during the foundation of the United States; it appeared quite some time later, after the foundations of the "Constitutional Republic" began to transpire. If someone were to actually understand what a "Constitution" really was (as opposed to what they wanted it to be), they would realize that the designation "Democratic Republic" is wholly unnecessary when protected under a "Constitutional Republic". Now, a "Constitutional Republic" is a phrase that DOES appear in early American writing of our American founder's vocabulary, discourse, and understanding. Sadly, as "Democratic Republic" started to enter the political sphere, the use of "Constitutional Republic" began to phase out; indeed, they are not the same thing, and cannot exist within the same sphere. Either one or the other exists, they cannot coexist with each other. Do not confuse "Democracy" with the "democratic process"; they are not the same thing... This is perhaps the one thing that most Political Science 101 students get wrong on final exams ("What is the difference between 'Democracy' and the 'democratic process'?"). The answer is that one is a form of government, the other is a method whereby that government may construct its leaders within a particular form. Your designation of Republic just now has completely counteracted anything you've ever said before concerning Republics and Democracies being the same thing.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Logan google williampmeyers.org/republic.html it may clear up some of your fussy thinking. It is also straight forward about American History. Certainly the two terms can and do co-exist. The ability to amend the Constitution is a straight forward 100% democratic procees, maybe circuitous and drawn out with each state being involved but just the same "we the people" can change or amend the constitution at will, if we have the will. It is thus not a one time sacred document written in stone. PS: If you believe that we cannot do that does it upset you, Are we free if we cannot change or amend the thing. It would appear that we could be considered slaves to the thing or the the founders, get real we are not slaves to the Constitution and the founders never intended us to be. The Constitution is our guinding star not an albatross around our necks.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    I Pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands...with LIBERTY and JUSTICE for all...you don't see that around much any more do you?
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Waffler, that link is more full of drivel than we even typically attribute to you. A little background research on Bill Meyers only establishes his bias as a California Educator. California education, especially it's American History curriculum, is notorious for bad and false information. A recent review of the standard textbooks used to teach American History in California high schools and most colleges showed over 300 false facts per book. This is hardly the source you should go to prove a point. A quick google search on Bill Meyers reveals enough to do a well established ad hominem, but I will leave that to you. As for what Meyers says, this shows absolutely no professionalism in actual research, and with only one reading I found over 25 fallacies -- let alone how ambiguous it is. I do, however, love his statement: "a representative democracy is a kind of republic". ..laughs.. Really? A "representative democracy" is "kind of" a "republic", but "kind of" not; ya know, it's just sorta kinda like something, but it's sorta kinda not like that thing at all... in fact, if you tweak it, stretch it, and pull it apart it "kind of" looks like Mother Theresa! I'm sure if you follow that logic you can find Waldo in there somewhere too! Seriously? But enough of my strawman, let's talk philosophy and ideas. As for the phrase "Democratic Republic", it is worthless. The real designation of our country is a "Constitutional Republic", which can also lend itself to the "democratic process" (which, if you remember, does not mean it's a "Democracy"). A Constitutional Republic means this: The individual creation of nature is sovereign and has inalienable rights given from the Creator of nature to exist, move, act, and associate with other individuals to make up society; each individual -- being absolutely free to act in all inalienable powers as given by the Creator -- is a government to themselves to act in their self-governance. As such, each individual -- having full inalienable power from their Creator -- can also associate with other individuals of the same to create synergy in society to do that which they could not do by themselves. Since each individual is fully and infinitely endowed with inalienable powers by the Creator of nature, there can be no assumed powers over what the individual has individually. A group of individuals -- each individually having full inalienable powers from their Creator -- can agree to come together and form a charter (Constitution) to place limits on certain Representatives to reflect their needs to other groups as well. These representatives cannot assume powers greater than what those who have elected them have freely delegated (remember, each individual has full inalienable power; no one individual has more right or power than another -- nor does it even make sense that two individuals with full inalienable power can presumably and magically assume MORE inalienable powers over one individual, just because there are two of them). The individuals, however, may give their representative more power to act in their name to the whole as time goes along, but they are never allowed to give their representative power through congregation in what they have no power to give individually. Yes, the Constitution can be changed an amended, but it must be within the parameters and understanding of powers thus delegated by the individuals through their full and inalienable right. This is what our Republic seeks to defend that Democracies fail in: our Republic establishes that there is a law wherein the movements and conduct of the representatives must not infringe upon the inalienable power of their constituents; however, a Democracy's premise is that the individual has no Creator-given inalienable right or power, but what is only granted their rights by the benevolent majority. If you have a "Democratic Republic" you simply have a Democracy wherein the majority has stipulated certain rights to the minority; these rights can be adjusted, derailed, given, and retracted at will. However, in a Republic (as based on unalterable natural law), the majority cannot infringe upon the minority, because there exists an absolute codex of laws outside the majority's scope wherein it cannot rule. Our Republic specifically was built to create a government where the individual could DELEGATE the expression of inalienable powers to another to act in his stead in very strict and limited ways; never could that representative EVER act over and beyond the specific powers they had been granted. This really isn't a hard concept. If you hire an employee to represent you in a specific action at work, you would certainly be mad if this employee immediately started representing you in every other matter in your life and tried to even buy a house for you without your permission... This employee is given very strict and specific duties, and he cannot act for you in any way above and beyond those specified duties. Now, while a group of men may come together and elect one man to elect them to perform a specific service and duty, it is not legitimate for this one man to start representing the group in a myriad of other ways not expressly given; otherwise, we call this rogue action "usurpation". In our political sphere, we also have limits to what powers and duties we can give to our leaders... mere majority vote is not the end-all absolute thing to consider. If the majority decides to override the inalienable rights of the individual, they can do so by brute force and illegitimate power, but in a Constitutional Republic, this is usurpation and tyranny. However, in a Democracy, whose only stipulation for legitimacy is majority vote, there are no REAL inalienable rights -- "inalienable" rights are just a empty political twinkie phrase that gives you certain butterflies in your stomach when you think about them. Our founder's did not mince words; they wrote and meant what they said. When they wrote "inalienable", that's what they meant; when they wrote against "Democracy", that's what they meant; when they -- in the same sentence -- condemned Democracy and praised Republics, that's what they mean. That all being said for the thousandth time, please do not provide me with any more worthless drivel from self-proclaimed researchers and amateur historians -- it really doesn't look well on your own ability to fundamentally find a legitimate resource. Finally, if you ever do provide a legitimate resource, please provide one prior to the 20th Century... and then we'll talk some more.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Waffler, not speaking for Logan, but by way of observation, you're pretty funny. If Logan speaks of the individual, and you speak of "the individual(s) who form the people", the only difference could be a theological illusion. I'm an individual, you're an individual, Logan is an individual, and together we are people. The most base premise for which codes, ordinances, regulation, rules, statutes, etc were to be enacted was each individual was created equal with unalienable rights. You and I can not lawfully act in concert towards Logan in any way other than what you or I could do/act towards Logan individually. A majority or might does not make right. If you and I, hired a third party to represent us (government), our representative couldn't do anything you or I (we - individually or in concert) couldn't do individually. If the government claims to have rights you or I don't have or, does something you or I can't do, it does not represent you or me in such status. I also find it funny that you create scenario's, form the beliefs, actions and parameters of the scenario, criticize the parties in the scenario and then claim one of those here that love freedom said or believed what the character in your story did. (just like when you said I believe its OK to drive on the wrong side of the street) I personally believe the Constitution to have been inspired but that doesn't mean all limitations on government were there covered. Archer explained it very well the other day when he explained the original Constitution was expelled after northern aggression conquered a separate nation to its south. The original Constitution (with original intent) was set aside so that the government would no longer be limited but rather the aloof people living within its gun sites would begin to be managed (might becoming right). By way of example, can we, or can we not partake of alcohol, hmm, that is the question? The Constitution is not our guiding star nor, an albatross around our necks; it should be both to the government.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    And to further illustrate, I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said..."A democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch" No Thanks!
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Logan et al, if you do not believe we are a democracy or you do not want us to be a democracy how do square your belief or your disdain for democracy with your love for the statement "all men are created equal". That statement is the heart and soul of democracy. Now while the framers were a little bit conservative and tilted towards aristocracy, the founders in the Declaration with that statement and the "inalienable rights" clause tilted completely and unabashedly towards full flung democracy.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Logan brevity may be more than just the sould of wit. It may be the soul of truth also. Your verbosity destroys any attempt at truth you might be wishing to make. In another place the bard said "I thinketh thou protest a little to much."
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Mike your representative can do anything he wants to do and you can fire him at his next election. No one has ever implied that the majority makes for right, but the majority has a right to be wrong also. And they often are. That is the majorities priviledge. Look what our majorities did to the Everglades etcetera. I have never implied that minorities or the lonely voice should not be heard, only that they should not dictate. Our allegiance to the Flag includes are acceptance of the persons whom the majority puts in office, we can still disagree. Some 49 percent of us or so are in disagreement all of the time such is the face of democracy. As Churchill said it is a lousy system but better than any other.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    All men are created equal, but Democracy destroys this concept by its very premise of majoritism: The minority is screwed every time when there is no other foundation for legitimacy other than majority vote. The founders were not considered "conservative" in their day, they were "liberal" (but not by today's definition). You STILL side-skirt the issue (I repeat): "If Democracies and Republics are one and the same thing -- as you have continuously blathered -- why does every Founding Father, political theorist, and political philosopher previous to the twentieth century always draw a clear and distinct line between the two forms of government? Why did Machiavelli and Madison speak extensively on the difference if there was no difference at all? Why did George Washington state that he would rather a Monarchy before a Democracy, but he praised Republics above all? Why did John Adams hate Democracy and praise Republics? Why does history show that Democracies never last longer than 200 years, but Republics last over 500 years? If you're right, how do you prove the majority to be wrong?" The minority cannot dictate the course of action in a Republic, but that does not mean it is powerless to be a slave to the majority. As David Bruton (the EU Ambassador to the United States stated), the only possible way of creating any safety for the minority within a TRUE Democracy is to make everything unanimous vote; otherwise, the minority has no rights against the majority. Nice quote from Shakespeare, btw -- but it's not accurate. And, though posed to Mike, I must have to ask: Where is a list of the "majorities priviledge" enumerated? Where is that written? Where does the majority get "priviledge"? The failure of our Republic to protect the environment, slaves, and any other infringement of life, liberty, or property was not an intrinsic flaw, but a failure to even comprehend and understand the principles of a Republic as based on natural law to rule in matters of life, liberty, and property.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Waffler, the difference between the Constitutional Republic and your democracy is in the Republic the representative is limited to Constitutional limitations and actions at Natural law. If such individual acts outside such limitations, his acts are void and he can be criminally prosecuted. In a democracy there are no limits to what the official can do. The definition of Democracy states that might makes right. If all are created equal, endowed with inalienable rights from their Creator, the majority can lawfully do nothing to impose on said individual's rights. A democracy says the majority can do anything it wants, making those of the majority superior to all other individuals. In our Constitutional Republic there is no privilege, nor anyone that can dictate anything. My allegiance goes to law, not to any person, percentage of persons, or office - that is what the flag represents.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    God created rights he handed to the indidvidual. When He did this did he do it by choice or was He out voted by the majority and he did it or was He going against the magority when He did it? ------------Anyway, He said here's my Laws you should follow for your own good, oh by the way they're naturally innate so you'll always be able to find them if you look for them or want to see them. It's your choice but since you can't read and there is no written copy of them I put them in your spirit so you can't lose them. Follow them wisely and remember the bad guy out there that I gave the same laws, powers, rights and directions on how to use them too as he is just as equal under these laws as you are. I say bad guy because in order for you to be individuals unto yourselves I gave you the unique ability to freely choose to obey these laws or not. That is My greatest gift to you, free choice, it keeps you from becoming robots that think and act the same in all situations. You see, I want you to be a free individual and not a slave. Follow my laws or not. There are no other laws out there to follow that will provide the freedom you have as an individual and if you follow them you can create heaven on earth, at least close to it, or hell on earth or close to it by not following them and making . The laws given and governing the individual are to do just that, govern yourself and hopefully with wisdom.
     -- Anon     
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    Logan I think you miss a subtle understanding. If all men are created equal or at least in the politcial sense entitled to a say and a vote and a voice, then all mens votes taken together equal to the best extent possible the will of most men. Would we prefer that these equal creatures be ignored when they vote. The framers floundered somewhat in their writing of the Constitution and they admitted that they might, thus they instituted the Amendment Process. The document which set this land and its people on its way was and is the Declaration. The Aristocratic framers errors have been corrected by amendment such as the direct election of senators, presidents, elimination of slavery etcetera. The Nation suffered under the errors for the best part of the 1800's but then the immortal Lincoln returned us back to the bedrock of the Declaration and a New Birth of Freedom. The Constitution is what the people say it is by virtue of the amendment process. The individual, in his participation and inclusion in the people, is King in the USA.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    I understand the concept of a majority system and the purported idea that "all mens votes taken together equal to the best extent possible the will of most men". My argument is the "will" of "most men". Is man basically a "good" or "bad" creation? "Righteous" or "evil"? Yes, if all men were good all of the time, then majoritism would have little problems; however, on that train of logic, if all men were good all of the time, then Monarchy is just as good as any majority-system. How can you keep a majority-system from persecuting the minority? It is proven over, and over, and over again that government's established solely on the majority's consent have obliterated into tyrannical dictatorships of an elitist few. However, if you seek to establish a government where the power of government is vested in the people, a majority-only system of government is quite inadequate, because the "will of most men" is often to subvert the expression of liberty from the fewer in numbers. This is the inherently flawed problem of majority-only systems, and the reason even Aristotle came out with his political theory of defaming Democracies, and his arguments for Republics. If you want a system of government where the power is vested in the people (but where the minority is safe from the frenzy of the masses) -- and where the masses will not be controlled by the minority -- then you must establish the government on a codex of laws that exist independently of the majority OR the minority; a codex of laws wherein both must adhere to and upon which each must check and admonish themselves against. If the understanding of this this codex of laws is an arbitrary creation of the masses, then the masses have any legitimate action to take it away. This is why our Founders established the codex of laws to be the "Laws of Nature, and of Nature's God". These were laws that the majority did not create and which they cannot overrule. The minority is powerless against these laws as well. The business of government may be conducted according to a majority's consent, but only when checked by natural law. Otherwise, all laws become a mere artificial and arbitrary creation of confusion and tyranny.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Your obsession with the words majority and minority and your negative attitude towards the former which is shown in your descriptions of fremzied majorities and masses is telling about where your logic comes from. It comes from somet type of fear. "Come let us reason together sayeth the Lord" he says this to all men alike. Now if we are all equal, that is equal in rights (of course not equal in all knowledge or expertise on a given issue) then a group of 100 trying to decide a matter will each have their say and then vote on the course of action to be take. The course receiving the majority or sometimes pluarality (a multiple choice of three or more options) will be taken. The solution chosen may be considered the wrong solution by some or may be absolutely the wrong solution in a scientific or engeneering sense but it is the cards that we have been dealt. Most thinking people and there are some move in and out of various majority and minority "campls" all of the time. Those group thinkiers who always must be in one or the other campls or look askance at one or the other campls are fools. Individuals thinking for themselves or of course sometimes relying on the knowledge and thinking of others cast their independent vote and there we are voila Democracy 101. No power has ever given us a perfect system to get around the problem, the framers did the best job yet and history has borne them out. It was not perfect and has been Amended numerous times which proves that it was not perfect. Let us keep it going and build on their less than excellent start.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Wow! that created a good response! After so much rhetoric I must just agree with the majority.....
     -- Robert, St. Emilion, France     
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    (-; Robert, I like it' ;-)
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Waffler is like trying to chase a man down in a round house !
    This I have seen in class after class after class. I do prefer the phrase ( Hybrid Republic ) with a democratic process. This you will find in the Federalist Papers. Waffler twist words to no avail, only to be a thorn of discontent, but by way, shows forth that which is approved, common sense and logical reason.
    I Peter 2:8 can be said well in support of our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. " And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient ; whereunto also they were appointed." As also applicable the following verses, For all doctrine is applicable in instruction and correction of the truth. Very, very sound words spoken by the majority today. Thank you.
     -- Ronw13, Yachats Or     
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