I read on the August 29 edition of the Augusta Chronicle an article by Robert Williams. In that article he appears to be making the point that our founding Fathers did not intend for the United Sates to be a Democracy - but a Republic. I forced myself to read the article several times to make sure I was not misreading it. When I read it for the third time, it seems to me that the author is advocating a more authocratic system, and claims those who organized the Nation were against the rule of the majority.
Coming from Argentina, where Authocracy was the rule for many years and checks and balances practically inexistent, I cannot help but thinking that Peron would love this approach because one of his recurring themes was that "Democracy is overrated". This is the same Peron who rescued Nazis from Allied occupied Europe; the same Peron who thrashed my grandfather's print shop for daring to print a book advocating an idea different than his.
While dissecting the article, I noticed several things:
a) The author is confusing a form of government (Republic) and the philosophy it follows (Democracy). Democracy is the idea, among other things, that the majority rules - while a Republic is the way in which the power of the State is organized. Individual parties in any society can change their ideologies over time. Have we forgotten that the Democratic Party supported segregation? or that the greates Republican President, Abe Lincoln, expressed sympathy for the ideas of Karl Marx and was the one proclaiming the Emancipation of slaves?. Ideologies change over time, but the organizing principles of our society remain the same: We are a society that chose to adopt majority rule with respect for the rights of minorities, and a Republican form of government. Our society also upholds the right of individuals to demonstrate and to organize to express their opinions. Our society believes in limiting power of the elected officials and in the chesk and balances which allow to control corruption and abuse of power. Those are the principles which brought me, an Argentinean-born Jew, to America.
b) Throughout history there have been non-democratic Republics. Mussolini, Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Stalin, Peron, do come to mind. There have also been non-Republican democracies: Athens, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands do come to mind. In other words, the terms "Republic" and "Democracy" do not necessarily go together - but neither do they exclude each other. The genius of our Founding Fathers was to find a way to establish a form of government taking what they believed to be the best of the ideas behind the republic and the best of the philosophy of Ancient Athens. American was born as a Democratic Republic through the system of popular and individual's states' representation. That is the strength of our society.
c) The American political system is a jewel, an incredible experiment in self-government that has lasted so far almost 250 years. That makes it the most succesful experiment in self-government in history. In Jewish tradition we say that each generation must see itself as coming out of Egypt and each generation receives the Torah. The interpretation given to these words over time point out that what that means is that each generation is responsible for preserving the tradition, and that each generation is responsible for discovering how the Torah applies to their own lives - because the Torah is just a path - we are the ones walking in its teachings. The same can be said about the American Democratic Republic. In each generation we must see ourselves purposedly embracing the ideals of freedom and fairness embodied in our Constitution and reflected in our Republican institutions. As a popular TV theme song used to say "Democracy and the American Republic go together like a horse and carriage"