Founding fathers warned about what would happen to freedom if a constitutional republic becomes a 'democracy' - Immediate danger is socialism: government grows while freedoms diminish

TRACKSIDE © by John D’Aloia Jr.

December 31, 2002

Since revolutionary days, people have warned the citizenry what will happen to freedom if the country betrays the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the constraints placed upon government by the Constitution.

John Adams described his vision of what happens when a constitutional republic is allowed to become a democracy. Democracy’s fate, foretold by Adams, was: "Democracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy; ... and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit, and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable ... cruelty of one or a very few."

Unless Ross Perot’s instantaneous electronic ballot on all issues is implemented, the immediate danger to our freedom is not democracy but socialism. Why, with such a noble history that has demonstrated to the world what can be achieved by conforming to our two founding documents, do we allow freedom to be diminished and government to grow?

Joseph Sobran, columnist and one-time vice presidential candidate, believes the problem lies with an apathetic, dependent, docile citizenry. He wrote: "How can the meaning of the Constitution -- the fundamental law -- be so unpredictable? Stability is the essence of the rule of law in general; unpredictable edicts, flowing from the arbitrary will of rulers (whether they are called kings, dictators, presidents, legislators, or judges), are typical of tyranny. But Americans today are resigned to being told what to do. They accept arbitrary, unpredictable rule as normal. In fact much of our politics consists of organized attempts to manipulate the law by buying the favor of the rulers. ... But the problem arises not from campaign donations, but from the very nature of the government. If it were strictly limited to its constitutional powers, it couldn't bestow many favors and wouldn't be worth buying. But when its powers are arbitrary and boundless, the inevitable result is an auction of bribery. And the more venal the politicians, the more they will pretend to be public benefactors and philanthropists, feeling our pain."

Impossible to prevent tyranny? Not if the electorate takes to heart the words attributed to John Philpot Curran. In a speech given on July 10, 1790, the Irish lawyer and politician told his audience: "The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime, and the punishment of his guilt." Freedom cannot be retained by ignoring what is being done to us by government and by voting for felons, perverts, con-men, adulterers, liars, and pagans. Gary Condit was not an isolated example. We are allowing people like him to represent us, people who must use the Seven Deadly Sins as a daily checklist to guide their actions, to the detriment of their souls and our freedom. We have only ourselves to blame when we find ourselves shackled to the oars while the drummer beats a ramming speed cadence.

Editor and satirist Henry L. Mencken had a similar view as Sobran, but put it more succinctly. An election, Mencken wrote, is "an advanced auction of stolen goods." Although Mencken was of a different era (he died in 1956), his definition applies today with example after example coming out of Washington illustrating the lack of morality, honesty, integrity, and virtue in our elected officials, officials who think not twice about using the power of government to achieve personal goals or enrich supporters, rejecting their oath to uphold the Constitution which calls for a promotion of "the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty," not "what do I do for me today." Alexander Hamilton understood the seductive stratagems of wanna-be tyrants: "Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants."

There is, of course, a proven remedy to the political and social ills that appear to compound with every human attempt to make them go away - first a recognition that God cannot be mocked, that we must conform our lives to His Service, and second, an acceptance of the Founding Principles as set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Our constitutional republic, even as founded, is not perfect, but it beats by a long shot any other form of government devised by man.

See you Trackside.


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