Republicanism

Republican – a constitutional government that is a representative democracy.

 

Throughout the Manifesto, I’m tempted to throw around the word “democracy”. Though the basic idea of a democracy – a government controlled by the people – is beautiful, and essentially what I mean when I talk about republics, it is a little too broad of a term. A true democracy, with absolute majority rule, would essentially require the abolition of politicians. That sounds grand at first, after all, who doesn’t hate politicians? But who really trusts the majority? On a good day, I believe the majority of people are good. However, I rarely am of the opinion that the majority of people are informed, mature, and practical decision makers.

The beauty of democracy is that it forces us to compromise – to accept policies that limit our individual liberties but that also provide for our own welfare. We weigh the difference.

Am I willing to pay more taxes to have better roads? Do I use roads? Then yes. Am I willing to pay more taxes to provide healthcare for the poor? Am I poor? If I’m not, then I might not be so inclined.

This is where republics help to smooth out the wrinkles of democracy. Republics not only entail representative democracy (so that those actually enacting policies are professionals, they have the money, time, and means to be specialists at designing policies and maneuvering through the political system because it is their job) but also checks and balances so that no one branch of government can bully the other. Republics make the government more complicated, but necessarily so. Republics limit direct democracy because, frankly, who has the time to constantly be aware of contemporary politics and foreign conflicts?

Direct democracy does have elements that republics lack. There is no threat of career politicians focusing more on their job as a means to an income than as a means to enacting the will of their constituents. Yet, with regular and fair elections, republics can avoid this as the citizens hold their representatives accountable. Yes, republican governments are not perfect, however, they’re do able (we’ve seen them succeed, where as a direct democracy has never existed on a large scale) and they’re practical (the average American simply does not have the time to stay up to date and active in evolving our government). They’re slow, and that can be frustrating, but sluggish change keeps people like Hitler and Stalin from throwing a stick in the spokes. Sure, sometimes that sluggishness isn’t worth the stability it provides (in the case of doing away with slavery or providing minorities Civil Rights, we saw how it can be too slow) yet I’ve yet to hear of a better alternative.

The last little note I’d like to make about the definition of “republic” used in this Manifesto is that I am not merely speaking of a representative democracy but also of a government with a written constitution and written code of laws that is openly available for the public to see. Nothing the government does should be withheld from the public (aside from certain military operations). The written constitution and code of laws should not be poetic, it should be bland. It shouldn’t have the liberties I enjoy, defining terms willy nilly, it should be basic and easily interpretable, otherwise the government cannot expect the citizens to make informed decisions which would inevitably doom a republic.