Saturday, February 19, 2011

Limited Democracy and the Reeve of the Constitution

[This is a follow-up to my three part series questioning whether the US Constitution is fatally flawed. In this article I recommend the creation of an office that is a combination policeman and foreign ambassador representing the Constitution, who is properly called a "Reeve." I also discuss the important difference between "limited government" and "limited democracy."]
We keep hearing and reading the phrase "limited government" on TV, on the radio, on the Internet and in news articles. The speaker or writer usually invokes the phrase with respect to the out-of-control American government. The speaker or writer is usually commenting on the expansiveness of the government and how it imposes itself into the affairs of ourselves, our families, and others.
"Limited government" is somewhat of a misnomer. A more appropriate phrase in America would be "limited democracy." When we say "limited government" we make it sound like the problem is the size and scope and personal imposition of the government. While government's size and impositions are definitely problems, they are after-effects, not causes. The whole point of the American style of democracy is to prevent the after-effects from happening by placing limits on practices that inevitably cause problems in society. Democracy, if left unchecked, inevitably devolves into statism, usually socialism. In fact, we can define socialism as the form of government that occurs when a democracy goes out of control due to its lack of proper limits.
Democratic governments go out of control either because they lack proper limits on their powers. Or because they lack firm enforcement of those limits as we are experience here in the US under the reign of Barack Obama and the leftists in Congress. History shows us that all democracies eventually go out of control, eventually weakening because their actions become neither moral nor rational. Democracies eventually end as Madison describes in Federalist No. 10, "as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." We observe that fact in history and in current events. We see many of the world's governments copying the American example, so they suffer from the same economic and social problems America suffers today. We watch in angst as America and the other constitutional republics totter on the verge of collapse, a collapse brought about either by the democracies' inability to follow the proper written laws which would prevent self-destructive governmental practices, or because the democracies don't enforce those laws.
The Federalist Papers make clear that the American republic is a form of representative democracy. In other words, the American constitutional republic is a form of democracy, one in which the people exercise their democracy through elected representatives, and in which the laws in the Constitution limit the powers of government so that self-destructive powers are not practiced. At least, those were the intentions when the Constitution was framed.
The main problem we find in American economy and society is the fact that the limits (or "borders") are not well guarded. The federal government trespasses on the borders regularly and with ease. The people in a democracy bear the ultimate responsibility for defending their own governmental borders, yet, our democratic body chooses to not defend those borders, so we observe today that our democracy is well on its way to its own sudden and violent end.


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