What does "republic" mean?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by billwald, Dec 24, 2010.

  1. billwald

    billwald
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    I suspect this thread will be ignored.<G>
     
  2. rbell

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    Functional definition (from Merriam-webster):

    (from Reference.com):

    Our original intent was to be a constitutional republic. We have evolved, with the unfortunate adopting of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, into a Representative Democracy. The key difference: prior to the passing of the 17th Amendment, Senators were appointed by the states. This kind of "indirect representation" and heightened importance of state legislatures (versus the now-direct representation of the Senate) is one difference some scholars draw between a republic and a representative democracy.

    Either way, we are not a "democracy" in its pure sense. Never were. Hopefully, never will be.

    And IMHO, if we'd repeal the 17th Amendment, we'd quickly improve this country. Vastly.
     
  3. SRBooe

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    The bottom line is that a Republic is an organization where the people have the authority over the government rather than the government having authority over the people. We are governed by laws, not by politicians.

    A great example of a violation of the principle of a Republic, happening now, is that the congressmen and senators who have been tossed out of office in the last election are now in a panic to pass bills that the public does not want. They are doing the very thing that got them voted out in November. They forget who they represent. Their arrogance is apalling.
     
  4. billwald

    billwald
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    In other words, Russia is a constitutional republic.
     
  5. glfredrick

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    No, because in Russia the government has control over the people, not the people over the government.

    Our recent government exercises, where the obvious will of the people is not being supported by elected representatives, nor the will of the state being supported by elected senators is an abberation of our constitutional mandates.

    That this is no longer recognized as such by so many people is another issue all together. But in large part, even that condition exists because a certain worldview, held by one of the two parties in our essentially two party system, has controlled the educational system for almost 100 years now.
    This has caused to be put into place a system of education designed to implant wrong ideas about our government into the heads of children who will one day be voters. We are seeing the fruits of their labor in almost every election since the 1960s. The aberration is the tea party influence this past mid-term election, where people who understand the constitution have risen up, grass roots, and started a revolt against the status quo.

    Billwald, it would be good for you to actually do some reading to understand just how and why your beliefs are so far afield of our constitution.

    I'd suggest that you read the Federalist Papers, but I doubt that you would take the time to wade through that many pages.

    So, here is a short article that details the issues.

    http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/AmericanIdeal/aspects/demrep.html

    Another site said this:

    (CONTINUED)
     
  6. glfredrick

    glfredrick
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    (PART 2)

    Clear back before the birth of Christ, Plato was already arguing for certain forms of government (he argued that philosophers, i.e., "seekers of wisdom", should run government) and he explained the degradation and cycle of governmental systems with remarkable accuracy (read the entire dialog here --http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.9.viii.html ):

    I shall particularly wish to hear what were the four constitutions of which you were speaking.

    That question, I said, is easily answered: the four governments of which I spoke, so far as they have distinct names, are, first, those of Crete and Sparta, which are generally applauded; what is termed oligarchy comes next; this is not equally approved, and is a form of government which teems with evils: thirdly, democracy, which naturally follows oligarchy, although very different: and lastly comes tyranny, great and famous, which differs from them all, and is the fourth and worst disorder of a State. I do not know, do you? of any other constitution which can be said to have a distinct character. There are lordships and principalities which are bought and sold, and some other intermediate forms of government. But these are nondescripts and may be found equally among Hellenes and among barbarians.
    ...
    Then if the constitutions of States are five, the dispositions of individual minds will also be five?

    Certainly.
    Him who answers to aristocracy, and whom we rightly call just and good, we have already described.

    We have.
    Then let us now proceed to describe the inferior sort of natures, being the contentious and ambitious, who answer to the Spartan polity; also the oligarchical, democratical, and tyrannical. Let us place the most just by the side of the most unjust, and when we see them we shall be able to compare the relative happiness or unhappiness of him who leads a life of pure justice or pure injustice. The enquiry will then be completed. And we shall know whether we ought to pursue injustice, as Thrasymachus advises, or in accordance with the conclusions of the argument to prefer justice.

    Certainly, he replied, we must do as you say.
    Shall we follow our old plan, which we adopted with a view to clearness, of taking the State first and then proceeding to the individual, and begin with the government of honour? --I know of no name for such a government other than timocracy, or perhaps timarchy. We will compare with this the like character in the individual; and, after that, consider oligarchical man; and then again we will turn our attention to democracy and the democratical man; and lastly, we will go and view the city of tyranny, and once more take a look into the tyrant's soul, and try to arrive at a satisfactory decision.

    That way of viewing and judging of the matter will be very suitable.
    First, then, I said, let us enquire how timocracy (the government of honour) arises out of aristocracy (the government of the best). Clearly, all political changes originate in divisions of the actual governing power; a government which is united, however small, cannot be moved.

    [snip -- discussion of rule by philosophers and why that does not always work]

    I believe that oligarchy follows next in order.
    And what manner of government do you term oligarchy?
    A government resting on a valuation of property, in which the rich have power and the poor man is deprived of it.

    I understand, he replied.
    Ought I not to begin by describing how the change from timocracy to oligarchy arises?

    Yes.
    Well, I said, no eyes are required in order to see how the one passes into the other.

    How?
    The accumulation of gold in the treasury of private individuals is ruin the of timocracy; they invent illegal modes of expenditure; for what do they or their wives care about the law?

    Yes, indeed.
    And then one, seeing another grow rich, seeks to rival him, and thus the great mass of the citizens become lovers of money.

    Likely enough.
    And so they grow richer and richer, and the more they think of making a fortune the less they think of virtue; for when riches and virtue are placed together in the scales of the balance, the one always rises as the other falls.

    True.
    And in proportion as riches and rich men are honoured in the State, virtue and the virtuous are dishonoured.

    Clearly.
    And what is honoured is cultivated, and that which has no honour is neglected.

    That is obvious.
    And so at last, instead of loving contention and glory, men become lovers of trade and money; they honour and look up to the rich man, and make a ruler of him, and dishonour the poor man.

    They do so.
    They next proceed to make a law which fixes a sum of money as the qualification of citizenship; the sum is higher in one place and lower in another, as the oligarchy is more or less exclusive; and they allow no one whose property falls below the amount fixed to have any share in the government. These changes in the constitution they effect by force of arms, if intimidation has not already done their work.

    [snip -- discussion of the ramifications of an oligarchy]
     
  7. glfredrick

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    (PART 3)


    Next comes democracy; of this the origin and nature have still to be considered by us; and then we will enquire into the ways of the democratic man, and bring him up for judgement.

    That, he said, is our method.
    Well, I said, and how does the change from oligarchy into democracy arise? Is it not on this wise? --The good at which such a State alms is to become as rich as possible, a desire which is insatiable?

    What then?
    The rulers, being aware that their power rests upon their wealth, refuse to curtail by law the extravagance of the spendthrift youth because they gain by their ruin; they take interest from them and buy up their estates and thus increase their own wealth and importance?

    To be sure.
    There can be no doubt that the love of wealth and the spirit of moderation cannot exist together in citizens of the same State to any considerable extent; one or the other will be disregarded.

    That is tolerably clear.
    And in oligarchical States, from the general spread of carelessness and extravagance, men of good family have often been reduced to beggary?

    Yes, often.
    And still they remain in the city; there they are, ready to sting and fully armed, and some of them owe money, some have forfeited their citizenship; a third class are in both predicaments; and they hate and conspire against those who have got their property, and against everybody else, and are eager for revolution.

    That is true.
    On the other hand, the men of business, stooping as they walk, and pretending not even to see those whom they have already ruined, insert their sting --that is, their money --into some one else who is not on his guard against them, and recover the parent sum many times over multiplied into a family of children: and so they make drone and pauper to abound in the State.

    Yes, he said, there are plenty of them --that is certain.
    The evil blazes up like a fire; and they will not extinguish it, either by restricting a man's use of his own property, or by another remedy:

    What other?
    One which is the next best, and has the advantage of compelling the citizens to look to their characters: --Let there be a general rule that every one shall enter into voluntary contracts at his own risk, and there will be less of this scandalous money-making, and the evils of which we were speaking will be greatly lessened in the State.

    Yes, they will be greatly lessened.
    At present the governors, induced by the motives which I have named, treat their subjects badly; while they and their adherents, especially the young men of the governing class, are habituated to lead a life of luxury and idleness both of body and mind; they do nothing, and are incapable of resisting either pleasure or pain.

    Very true.
    They themselves care only for making money, and are as indifferent as the pauper to the cultivation of virtue.

    Yes, quite as indifferent.
    Such is the state of affairs which prevails among them. And often rulers and their subjects may come in one another's way, whether on a pilgrimage or a march, as fellow-soldiers or fellow-sailors; aye, and they may observe the behaviour of each other in the very moment of danger --for where danger is, there is no fear that the poor will be despised by the rich --and very likely the wiry sunburnt poor man may be placed in battle at the side of a wealthy one who has never spoilt his complexion and has plenty of superfluous flesh --when he sees such an one puffing and at his wit's end, how can he avoid drawing the conclusion that men like him are only rich because no one has the courage to despoil them? And when they meet in private will not people be saying to one another 'Our warriors are not good for much'?

    Yes, he said, I am quite aware that this is their way of talking.
    And, as in a body which is diseased the addition of a touch from without may bring on illness, and sometimes even when there is no external provocation a commotion may arise within-in the same way wherever there is weakness in the State there is also likely to be illness, of which the occasions may be very slight, the one party introducing from without their oligarchical, the other their democratical allies, and then the State falls sick, and is at war with herself; and may be at times distracted, even when there is no external cause.

    Yes, surely.
    And then democracy comes into being after the poor have conquered their opponents, slaughtering some and banishing some, while to the remainder they give an equal share of freedom and power; and this is the form of government in which the magistrates are commonly elected by lot.

    [snip -- discussion of how a democracy proceeds and eventually decays]
     
  8. glfredrick

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    (PART 4)


    Last of all comes the most beautiful of all, man and State alike, tyranny and the tyrant; these we have now to consider.

    Quite true, he said.
    Say then, my friend, in what manner does tyranny arise? --that it has a democratic origin is evident.

    Clearly.
    And does not tyranny spring from democracy in the same manner as democracy from oligarchy --I mean, after a sort?

    How?
    The good which oligarchy proposed to itself and the means by which it was maintained was excess of wealth --am I not right?

    Yes.
    And the insatiable desire of wealth and the neglect of all other things for the sake of money-getting was also the ruin of oligarchy?

    True.
    And democracy has her own good, of which the insatiable desire brings her to dissolution?

    What good?
    Freedom, I replied; which, as they tell you in a democracy, is the glory of the State --and that therefore in a democracy alone will the freeman of nature deign to dwell.

    Yes; the saying is in everybody's mouth.
    I was going to observe, that the insatiable desire of this and the neglect of other things introduces the change in democracy, which occasions a demand for tyranny.

    How so?
    When a democracy which is thirsting for freedom has evil cupbearers presiding over the feast, and has drunk too deeply of the strong wine of freedom, then, unless her rulers are very amenable and give a plentiful draught, she calls them to account and punishes them, and says that they are cursed oligarchs.

    Yes, he replied, a very common occurrence.
    Yes, I said; and loyal citizens are insultingly termed by her slaves who hug their chains and men of naught; she would have subjects who are like rulers, and rulers who are like subjects: these are men after her own heart, whom she praises and honours both in private and public. Now, in such a State, can liberty have any limit?

    Certainly not.
    By degrees the anarchy finds a way into private houses, and ends by getting among the animals and infecting them.

    How do you mean?
    I mean that the father grows accustomed to descend to the level of his sons and to fear them, and the son is on a level with his father, he having no respect or reverence for either of his parents; and this is his freedom, and metic is equal with the citizen and the citizen with the metic, and the stranger is quite as good as either.

    Yes, he said, that is the way.
    And these are not the only evils, I said --there are several lesser ones: In such a state of society the master fears and flatters his scholars, and the scholars despise their masters and tutors; young and old are all alike; and the young man is on a level with the old, and is ready to compete with him in word or deed; and old men condescend to the young and are full of pleasantry and gaiety; they are loth to be thought morose and authoritative, and therefore they adopt the manners of the young.

    Quite true, he said.
    The last extreme of popular liberty is when the slave bought with money, whether male or female, is just as free as his or her purchaser; nor must I forget to tell of the liberty and equality of the two sexes in relation to each other.

    Why not, as Aeschylus says, utter the word which rises to our lips?
    That is what I am doing, I replied; and I must add that no one who does not know would believe, how much greater is the liberty which the animals who are under the dominion of man have in a democracy than in any other State: for truly, the she-dogs, as the proverb says, are as good as their she-mistresses, and the horses and asses have a way of marching along with all the rights and dignities of freemen; and they will run at anybody who comes in their way if he does not leave the road clear for them: and all things are just ready to burst with liberty.

    When I take a country walk, he said, I often experience what you describe. You and I have dreamed the same thing.

    And above all, I said, and as the result of all, see how sensitive the citizens become; they chafe impatiently at the least touch of authority and at length, as you know, they cease to care even for the laws, written or unwritten; they will have no one over them.

    Yes, he said, I know it too well.
    Such, my friend, I said, is the fair and glorious beginning out of which springs tyranny.

    Glorious indeed, he said. But what is the next step?
    The ruin of oligarchy is the ruin of democracy; the same disease magnified and intensified by liberty overmasters democracy --the truth being that the excessive increase of anything often causes a reaction in the opposite direction; and this is the case not only in the seasons and in vegetable and animal life, but above all in forms of government.

    True.
    The excess of liberty, whether in States or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.

    Yes, the natural order.
    And so tyranny naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty?

    As we might expect.
    That, however, was not, as I believe, your question-you rather desired to know what is that disorder which is generated alike in oligarchy and democracy, and is the ruin of both?

    Just so, he replied.
    Well, I said, I meant to refer to the class of idle spendthrifts, of whom the more courageous are the-leaders and the more timid the followers, the same whom we were comparing to drones, some stingless, and others having stings.

    [snip -- discussion]

    Then there is another class which is always being severed from the mass.

    What is that?
    They are the orderly class, which in a nation of traders sure to be the richest.

    Naturally so.
    They are the most squeezable persons and yield the largest amount of honey to the drones.

    Why, he said, there is little to be squeezed out of people who have little.

    And this is called the wealthy class, and the drones feed upon them.
    That is pretty much the case, he said.
    The people are a third class, consisting of those who work with their own hands; they are not politicians, and have not much to live upon. This, when assembled, is the largest and most powerful class in a democracy.

    True, he said; but then the multitude is seldom willing to congregate unless they get a little honey.

    And do they not share? I said. Do not their leaders deprive the rich of their estates and distribute them among the people; at the same time taking care to reserve the larger part for themselves?

    Why, yes, he said, to that extent the people do share.
    And the persons whose property is taken from them are compelled to defend themselves before the people as they best can?

    What else can they do?
    And then, although they may have no desire of change, the others charge them with plotting against the people and being friends of oligarchy? True.

    And the end is that when they see the people, not of their own accord, but through ignorance, and because they are deceived by informers, seeking to do them wrong, then at last they are forced to become oligarchs in reality; they do not wish to be, but the sting of the drones torments them and breeds revolution in them.

    That is exactly the truth.
    Then come impeachments and judgments and trials of one another.
    True.
    The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness.

    Yes, that is their way.
    This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector.

    Yes, that is quite clear.
    How then does a protector begin to change into a tyrant? Clearly when he does what the man is said to do in the tale of the Arcadian temple of Lycaean Zeus.

    What tale?
    The tale is that he who has tasted the entrails of a single human victim minced up with the entrails of other victims is destined to become a wolf. Did you never hear it?

    Oh, yes.
    And the protector of the people is like him; having a mob entirely at his disposal, he is not restrained from shedding the blood of kinsmen; by the favourite method of false accusation he brings them into court and murders them, making the life of man to disappear, and with unholy tongue and lips tasting the blood of his fellow citizen; some he kills and others he banishes, at the same time hinting at the abolition of debts and partition of lands: and after this, what will be his destiny? Must he not either perish at the hands of his enemies, or from being a man become a wolf --that is, a tyrant?

    Inevitably.
    This, I said, is he who begins to make a party against the rich?
    The same.
    After a while he is driven out, but comes back, in spite of his enemies, a tyrant full grown.

    That is clear.
    And if they are unable to expel him, or to get him condemned to death by a public accusation, they conspire to assassinate him.

    Yes, he said, that is their usual way.
    Then comes the famous request for a bodyguard, which is the device of all those who have got thus far in their tyrannical career --'Let not the people's friend,' as they say, 'be lost to them.'

    Exactly.
     
  9. billwald

    billwald
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    >No, because in Russia the government has control over the people, not the people over the government.

    Then if there is any truth to the complaints that right wingers on this list make against their elected representatives then neither is the USofA a republic because the complaints are that the elected representatives disobey the will of the electorate.
     
  10. SRBooe

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    Wow, you really do "get it!"
    That is exactly our complaint!

    We are supposed to be a Republic, but since those in congress are ignoring the citizens, they seem to have forgotten what they are there for.
     
  11. HankD

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    A representative form of government (of the people by the people for the people) with the consent of the governed.
     
  12. Salty

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    Do you think what was signed by the POTUS in the past 3 weeks was "with the consent of the governed"?
     
  13. billwald

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    The dictatorship of the 51%. <G>
     

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