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I am writing regarding Mitch Clarke's entertaining conversation with Thomas Jefferson. I found the structure amusing, and I found his closing statement, "It sounds as though the republic is facing some daunting challenges" interesting.
Many people, myself included, have fallen into the misunderstanding that our form of government is a democracy. The Founding Fathers avoided that form intentionally. I, too, will reference a comment attributed to Dr. Franklin regarding the type of government we have. When asked, "Well, Doctor, what we have got a Republic or a Monarchy?" he responded, "A Republic, if you can keep it."
As detailed in the 5000 Year Leap by Dr. W. Cleon Skousen, the change in the American lexicon started in 1905 with the Intercollegiate Socialist Society. The goal of the ISS was to throw light on the world-wide movement of industrial "democracy," known as socialism.
In 1921, as a result of the violence associated with the USSR, the ISS changed its name to the League for Industrial Democracy. The goal was to promote the idea that through the nationalization of all the means of production and distribution, the nations resources would become the property of all the people — a democracy.
After World War II, democracy had lost its identification with socialism. All of this created a subtle change in the American mindset. People referred to the U.S. as a democracy, but mentally they had begun to equate democracy with the traditional Constitutional republic.
The question has to be asked: What drove this change? Believe it or not, the introduction of the word "democracy" was actually designed as an attack on the Constitutional structure of the government and the basic rights it was designed to protect. As Samuel Adams pointed out, the Founders had tried to make socialism unconstitutional. Therefore, to adopt socialism, respect and support for traditional constitutionalism has to be eroded and then emasculated.
In view of this fact, it should not surprise the student of history to discover that those who wanted to have democracy identified with the American system were also anxious to have Americans believe their traditional Constitution was outdated, perhaps totally obsolete.
There are those within our federal government that would like for us to believe our Constitution is outdated or obsolete. They would like us to believe that drastic changes must be made to our system of government. We must remember: Our leaders are not angels but fragile human beings.
James Madison saw the problem of placing power in the hands of fallible human beings who, by nature, contain a complexity of element reflecting both good and evil. The purpose of a constitution is to define the area in which a public official can serve to his utmost ability but, at the same time, provide strict limitations to chain him down from mischief.
We must stay vigilant and maintain constant watch over all of our leaders and chain them down from mischief.