Why Democracies Fail

By Bill Heid

Why Democracies Fail

Image source: Pixabay.com

You can never have a revolution to establish a democracy.

You must have a democracy in order to have a revolution.

—G. K. Chesterton, “The Wind and the Trees” (1909)

To an ancient Greek, “democracy” was inseparable from “dictatorship” of the common people.

—Doug Lorimer, Introduction to Democracy and Revolution (2001)

The Goal of the Constitution

The United States was founded as a republic, not a democracy. That is what the Framers intended and what the Constitution itself says, both explicitly and implicitly. The Constitution, for example, says that, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government . . ..” More important, though, are the assumptions implicit in forms of government created by the Constitution. It’s important to know that the Constitution assumes a universe of law and responsibility, of obligation and right … that no majority vote or despotic edict should be allowed to subvert.

At the same time, the Constitution also assumes the darkness, irresponsibility and fallen nature of humanity. It’s assumed that both citizens and politicians alike will attempt to find loopholes in the legal functions of civil government for personal gain or out of an idealist desire to create some type of utopia. The Framers of the Constitution worked hard to design a form of government that would check the lusts and desires of its citizens while still allowing the government to do its job. At the same time, they realized that any rule can be bent or broken when the people stand idly by — or worse, when they call for rule-breaking as their right.

By the first decades of the 20th century, however, there were strong forces at work in politics, education and the media striving to rewrite America’s Click to see the original article