GUEST BLOG POST by Rick Jore
In a Valley Journal article published last week reporting on the swearing in ceremony of Lake County elected officials, Twentieth Judicial District Judge James Manley twice referred to "this experiment we call democracy."
I can understand why Judge Manley might say this as we often (erroneously, in my view) call our form of government a "democracy." However, I hope you will further ponder his statement that "our forefathers developed" such form of government and consider if history actually bears that view out. Is democracy consistent with a Constitutional Republic? Can, or should, a simple vote of any democratic majority, whether direct or representative, negate or supersede intended constitutional restraints on the power and authority of government or the constitutionally recognized and secured rights of the individual? If so, what purpose could the oath the elected officials took possibly have if the extent of their authority is determined not by the Constitution, but by a majority of voters?
The word democracy does not appear in any of our organic documents of government. Art. IV Sec. 4 of the U.S. Constitution guarantees "to every State in this Union, a Republican Form of Government." (Republican as in a system of civil rule conducive to a republic, not Republican as in political party.)
If, as Judge Manley says, "our forefathers developed" a "democracy," it is rather odd they said what they did about the concept:
"Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; have in general been as short in their lives as they are violent in their deaths.” ~ James Madison, Federalist #10
"Democracy will envy all, contend with all, endeavour to pull down all; and when by chance it happens to get the Upper hand for a Short time, it will be revengeful bloody and cruel.” ~ John Adams letter to Thomas Jefferson, July 16, 1814
You may be aware of a current nationwide effort to nullify a specific constitutional check on democracy, the loud and ignorant call to eliminate the Electoral College provision in the U.S. Constitution. A significantly foundational and constitutional check on democracy has already been eliminated, with disastrous consequences, by adoption of the 17th Amendment in 1913. This changed entirely the function and purpose of the United States Senate by replacing senatorial appointments by state legislatures with popular election.
Let’s be mindful and cautious in referring to our representative, constitutional republic as a democracy. Allow me to suggest that transcendent truths, which were pronounced as self-evident by our forefathers, simply cannot be maintained by the fickle whims of an all too often selfish and covetous democratic majority. By the franchise of their vote, a democratic majority will seek to appease their selfish and covetous nature by using the force of law to plunder rights and property, rather than protect them.
Rick Jore served four terms in the Montana House of Representatives, three as a member of the Republican Party and one as a member of the Constitution Party. He is a small business owner, constitutional originalist, and dedicated activist working to restore our founding heritage.
Montanans for Limited Government
Kathy Kay, Treasurer
PO Box 1154
Lolo, MT 59847