What is the political system in America today? Some say that we are a republic, others a Democracy; some say we are socialists flirting with fascism. Are our personal liberties being sacrificed for security, and are these sacrifices worth the loss of freedom? What happens in a society where the people are not the sovereign, can this society flourish in both freedom and wealth? In this paper I want to show the evolution of America’s political system from a Republic into a Democratic Socialist state, in which a new form of Fascism is one step away. I will draw on the expertise of political philosophers, and the history of each political system. I will show that certain American policies simply don’t work, and only hurt America. Furthermore, I would like to discuss how we can change the road we are heading down.
America was founded as a Republic on September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, the day the US Constitution was adopted. The constitution is what makes America a republic not because it is simply the supreme law in America, but because it insists that the people, the individual more importantly, are the sovereign. Additionally, this sovereignty is based not in civil rights, but in natural rights. We fought and died for the idea of liberty, so that the great American experiment can exist; this is an experiment in self-governance, something historical governments have never attempted. The government governs from the consent of the people, and all though this sounds like majority rule, it is not because the majority is governed by the constitution. Even if legislation is passed that hinders the rights of an individual, the individual has the right to not practice the law, and should not be held accountable for a law he deems unnecessary and a breach of his/her sovereignty. The Bill of Rights does not hinder the individual, but the government. In 2011 Newsweek gave 1000 US citizens the Citizenship test given to immigrants, in this study 44% where unable to define the Bill of Rights; Thomas Jefferson did not believe that Freedom and ignorance could co-exist, as staying vigilant and informed is the duty of the people, not the government. Liberty and equality is at the core of any republic, for a charter (Constitution) prohibits the majority from moving against the minority.
When the constitution is not obeyed, then the republic, for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, becomes a democracy. The sovereign in a democracy is not the individual, nor the people, the sovereign is the majority. The majority is not based in numbers, but in power. In democracy there is not guarantee of equality, as the principle of a democracy is counterintuitive to equality in the sense that the 51% rules the 49%, this is tyranny by majority.
“No one will assert that a people cannot forcibly wrong another people; but parties may be looked upon as lesser nations within a greater one, and they are aliens to each other: if, therefore, it be admitted that a nation can act tyrannically towards another nation, it cannot be denied that a party may do the same towards another party.” (Tocqueville) Democracy in America chapter XV
In a Democracy whether it be direct or representative, the majority’s voice trumps the minorities. The Republic of America’s liberty came under attack not long after its birth in 1798 with the Alien and Sedition Acts. John Adams attacked the first amendment in the bill of rights with an act that restricted speech critical of the government, enabling the president to imprison or deport aliens. In this same bill he also upped the US citizenship requirements from 5 years to 14 years, giving him a lot more subjects to have power over. This act is a clear violation of the first amendment, and the first acidic attack on the constitution. A recent example of majority rule that is in direct reflection of Tocqueville’s quote is a vote in the senate 52-48…