David Dunn-Rankin

David Dunn-Rankin

“In the paper, you wrote that ‘at one time, the core of our American democracy was the concept of majority rule.’ That is factually untrue. Our government is a constitutional Republic based on the concept of representative government.

“While I agree with many of your statements that followed your opening paragraph, you do your opinion a disservice when you begin with something provably false.” M.

Thanks, M. You are correct. I was factually untrue – my apologies.

We are a constitutional Republic. This means we elect people to represent our wishes. Those elected officials, in theory, are required to follow the laws of the U.S. constitution.

The founders wanted a constitutional Republic: elected officials bound by a constitution and not a pure democracy. Under the technical definition of pure democracy, we, the people, vote directly on every vital issue. There is no constitution. That idea scared the founders.

Our founders were so afraid of pure democracy that they only let white men who owned land and were 21 or older be allowed to vote. Put another way, 94% of Americans were not allowed to vote when our country was founded.

Many of us tend to think of ourselves as a representative democracy now that we have significantly expanded who can vote. Women, people of color, people who don’t own land, and folks age 18 and older are all now eligible.

I’ve generally called the USA a democracy because, although technically wrong, it is less confusing to our readers. By the technical definition of a constitutional Republic – Russia is also a constitutional Republic. China also qualifies as a constitutional Republic. The country of Iran also qualifies as a constitutional Republic.

All three have constitutions, elections and are constitutional Republics – the same as America. Allegiance to the communist party, or loyalty to Putin, or allegiance to the Supreme Leader in Iran somehow colors most Americans’ perception that all four countries have the same form of government – a constitutional Republic.

I struggle with understanding what kind of government America has today. Here’s a story from the last legislative session that contributes to my confusion. 

The Tampa Bay Rays have a spring training facility in Charlotte County. The Rays worked with an influential Republican figure in the state to get $37 million of your taxpayer dollars for a new spring training facility in Pasco County.

It appears the state senator who represented Charlotte did not give the county a heads up they were potentially losing spring training. It seems the state representative who represents Charlotte County did not mention to Charlotte County they were about to lose the Tampa Bay Rays. The Republican lobbyist paid by Charlotte County to keep them abreast of any issue affecting the county did not tell the county either.

These “representatives” appear to have a higher allegiance to the party bosses than they did to the people they were elected to serve or paid to represent.

M., I struggle because I watch our elected officials kowtow to the party leaders rather than act as public servants. This is true both for Democrats and Republicans.

I sometimes have anxiety that our constitutional Republic is gradually sliding towards the constitutional Republic model of Iran, China and Russia, where elected officials declare their loyalty to the “party” and “leaders” first, and the people second. Can we, will we, return to public servants first and party loyalty second in our lifetimes?

Share your thoughts: David@D-R.Media.

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