Justin Nataro, treasurer of the Thomas Jefferson Club, wrote this OpEd that appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today.
Since the installment of Barack Obama as our commander in chief, I know many, myself included, who are frustrated with his constant utterance of the word “democracy” to refer to the United States. Yes, it’s true, America is a democracy. But first and foremost America is a republic with a Constitution in place to safeguard certain inalienable rights, which cannot be overturned no matter how large the majority against them is. For instance, in America, even if 99.99 percent of the population is against private gun ownership, the right to bear arms cannot be overturned. It’s one of our inalienable rights established by the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments), and thus permanently out of the reach of any collection of citizens against it.
The essential difference between a republic and a democracy is the driving force that separates the American identity and value system from the rest of the world. The essential aspect of a Democracy is the belief that all of our rights come from government, i.e., other elected human beings.
The essential aspect of a republic is the belief that all of our rights come from God, or, for atheists, are possessed innately. The humans we elect to government are simply meant to protect those rights from infringement by other humans. Bearing this in mind, I can only shake my head over the many who align themselves as strict constitutionalists and/or “Republicans” (whatever that means) who are also rejoicing over the Swiss referendum to ban the construction of minarets.
Refresher alert: According to Wikipedia, “minarets are distinctive architectural features of Islamic mosques. Minarets are generally tall spires with onion-shaped or conical crowns, usually either free standing or taller than any associated support structure.” Essentially, they’re the Islamic version of the church steeple. And 57.5 percent of Switzerland’s voting population voted to ban their future construction.
Unfortunately for real constitutionalists, the right to private property and freedom of religion are two of those inalienable, God-given rights, and, unless we’re experiencing interference in our own lives, we don’t have the authority to inhibit the rights of anyone else just because we disagree with them. Stinks, I know.
The flaw in a democracy is that it leads to a problem referred to as the tyranny of the majority, whereby the God-given rights of 49.9 percent of people can be overturned by 50.1 percent. The beauty in a Republic is that our God-given rights are protected at all times from all levels of resistance. As long as you’re not interfering in anyone else’s life, you’re right to own property and do with it as you please and to practice your religion as you please cannot be infringed upon.
Read the rest of the editorial here.