A republic is a form of government in which the power rests in the citizens who elect representatives to govern. A democracy has come to mean almost the same thing, but a pure democracy would mean direct rule by the people through their voting. The United States, while considered a democracy, is, strictly speaking, a republic.
Plato and other Greek philosophers believed that democracy is a bad form of government because it eventually degenerates to the lowest common denominator, resulting in a society governed by the rule of the uneducated, uninformed, morally weak, and self-indulgent masses. People move from freedom to license and chaos that ultimately bring society under the tyranny of dictatorial rule or excessive government control. Many perceptive people who can discern the times are recognizing that our nation is slipping into this very same process.
Generally speaking democracy will degenerate in the manner feared by the Greek philosophers unless it is held together by certain key ingredients that typically are missing in most of the world’s societies. America was blessed by God to possess these necessary elements that have sustained our freedom and our republic. Without them we will follow the familiar paths of governments throughout history---falling into chaos and/or dictatorship.
American freedom and democracy can only be sustained where these following three elements exist.
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(1) A healthy self-restraint produced by moral character in the people. In America this was created by the Biblical values of the predominant Judeo-Christian ethic.
(2) A strong and well-informed middle-class. A strong and well-informed middle-class is necessary for the sustained existence of a democracy because it prevents the animosity and class warfare that falls on a people governed by either the very rich or the very poor. An informed public with moral fiber is least likely to be manipulated by propaganda and demagoguery.
(3) A governing document such as our constitution designed to keep the power of the government in check and protect the people from the arbitrary rule of men who would otherwise seek power and rule according to their own will.
All of these dynamics are being eroded and undermined in our culture today. Our nation has lived in the fruit of those values and principles, and now is in the process of weakening these very principles that have made us great. Apart from a major turn-around, our nation is already beginning to taste in small measure the consequences we will experience when we reap the greater harvest of the new seed being sown.
The writer lives in Longs.