Alexis de Tocqueville, Marcel de Graaff and Billy Joel Opine On the Tendencies of Representative Republics


“Every nation that has ended in tyranny has come to that end by way of good order. It certainly does not follow from this that peoples should scorn public peace, but neither should they be satisfied with that and nothing more. A nation that asks nothing of government, but the maintenance of order is already a slave in the depths of its heart; it is a slave of its well-being, ready for the man who will put it in chains.”

~ Alexis de Tocqueville

Progressives have learned that if you can’t win a public debate, you win control of government and use it to shut down the debate.

People with with whom you disagree can use the power of government to shut you down and block you out. Prevention of this is why America has a First Amendment right to free speech…and ostensibly, a free press.

This is one of the greatest dangers of living within a representative republic.

The EU isn’t a representative republic in the sense America is, it is a social democracy that features electoral representation like our American system, but the EU provides a very salient example of how elected representatives can use the power of government to shutter debate – just look at how EU and the issue of immigration. The EU Parliament is now debating the United Nations Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This US and several other countries have already said “no” to this agreement that seeks to make immigration a universal human right.

Member of European Parliament, Marcel de Graaff from the Netherlands notes that if this agreement is approved, it, combined with EU laws “is declaring migration as a human right so it will, in effect, become impossible to criticize Mrs. Merkel’s ‘Welcome Migrants’ politics without being at risk of being jailed for hate speech. One basic element of this new agreement is the extension of the definition of hate speech. The agreement wants to criminalize migration speech. Criticism of migration will become a criminal offence. Media outlets that give room to criticism of migration can be shut down.”

In a representative republic we vote for individuals to act on our behalf – to represent us and to make decisions for us in accordance with the general positions held by a majority of those who elect them. While there is no legal requirement for any elected official to do so once elected, the check on such actions are elections held at regular intervals that give the electorate the opportunity to vote the representative out should they be disappointed with their actions while in office.

But a representative republic as established by and within our Constitution can only preserved as long as the electorate, in the words of John Adams, consists of “a moral and religious people” because “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

What I believe Adams meant was not that Americans were required to exhibit a Puritanical piety, just that they must be grounded and guided by the basic, shared moral strictures of America’s founding (more or less the Ten Commandments – concepts which, by the way, are not exclusively Christian), an abiding obedience to the enumerated, limited prescriptions for government included in the Constitution and a trust in their fellow citizens rooted in those common beliefs.

While he separation of powers and the decentralization of government makes an open, tyrannical revolution far more unlikely, the function of a representative republic retains the possibility for tyranny to be voted in.

When any representative form of government becomes infected by statists and statism the danger exists, but the greatest danger is when a representative republic becomes infested with statolatrists. Coined by economist, Ludwig von Mises, statolatry combines the authoritarian desires of statism with the religion of collectivism. These combined to yield a literal worship of government – but this worship isn’t the worship of a true religion, it is the worship of a cult.

Representative tyranny is not an eventuality. The elimination of even the possibility is very simple. It’s called the Constitution and a little thing called the Bill of Rights. Many under the age of 30 may not have heard of these, paraphrasing the words of Billy Joel, “Tell them about it…”–yQ


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