A Constitutional Republic, Not a Democracy

In case anyone needed a lesson in understanding the difference between democracy and a Constitutional Republic a.k.a. Europe and America, tonight’s results should serve as a clear message.  This is democracy in full force.


Why did we need a constitution?  Why are popular elections not a sufficient means of preserving liberty?

A pure unbridled democracy is a political system in which the majority enjoys absolute power by means of democratic elections.  In an unvarnished democracy, unrestrained by a constitution, the majority can vote to impose tyranny on themselves and the minority opposition.  They can vote to elect those who will infringe upon our inalienable God-given rights.  Thomas Jefferson referred to this as elected despotism in Notes on the State of Virginia (also cited in Federalist 48 by Madison):

An ELECTIVE DESPOTISM was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.

Thus, a constitution that limited and divided the power of government was necessary to preclude elected officials from imposing tyranny on the people.  This is why they adopted a constitution with limited enumerated power, divided and checked across several branches and levels.


In other words, tonight’s narrow majority victory for Obama and the Democrats should not be so consequential.  Pursuant to the society we are supposed to be, elections are not the end all; the Constitution is the end all.  Elections should not be so consequential.  Forty-eight percent of us should not be forced into the tyranny of a government-takeover of much of our lives just because 50% vote for insidious characters who want to grow government for their own sake.

Yet, we no longer live in a Constitutional Republic.  We live in a pure democracy – one that is similar to Europe, in which the majority can pretty much vote for people who will vitiate the Constitution and implement any form of tyranny it pleases.  Screw the minority.  Yes, so much for minority rights, progressives.  As founder John Witherspoon noted, “pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state – it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage.”

Yet, there is still one element of our Constitutional Republic that has been preserved; the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches and the separation of the individual states from the federal government.  We have held onto the House with roughly the same strong majority, plus we have added a number of new conservatives.  Additionally, we have picked up some state legislative chambers, increasing our majority control over a record number of state governments.



It is in the House and in the states that we must make our stand for God, Country, and Constitution; for liberty, freedom, and the American way of live.

If you’ve noticed over the past two elections, it is in the lower offices – the House and state legislatures – that we have made the biggest gains.

On a personal level, I am committed to growing a conservative majority in the House and the states, while holding the existing members accountable on all policy issues.  Through the Madison Project, Red State, and other venues, I and my colleagues will not rest until we grow a strong bench of viable conservative leaders who will, someday, run for higher office.

Onward, soldiers!

Cross-posted from The Madison Project


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