The first reaction when someone, who considers themselves a Constitutional Conservative, that understands and appreciates our country’s founding, when they hear someone call America a Democracy they have the knee-jerk reaction that “no, the government was set up to be a representative republic.” After all a famous quote from Benjamin Franklin is: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” Which, of course, is correct, but I’m left wondering if, in the present day, as related to the federal government, if that is still correct?
Our Founders designed the House of Representatives as the ‘house of the people’ elected by a popular vote for the relatively small districts that they serve, while the Senate was designed to be the deliberative branch, from the Constitution “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.” This was the case until the administration of Woodrow Wilson and the passing of the Seventeenth Amendment as below:
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
Which now means that both Houses of Congress are chosen by a direct vote. thus eliminating a major difference between the two Houses and to where their obligations lie.
Until recently, and by rule, in the Senate, for any legislation to be allowed on the floor for a vote it had to pass the threshold of a filibuster with a 3/5 vote. This changed, under the leadership of Harry Reid, the rules were altered by the “nuclear option” allowing legislation to go forward simply by a majority vote.
The next impediment to living under a true democracy, or majority rule, had been the Supreme Court who were tasked with deciding if, after bills are passed and then challenged, if they are supported by the Constitution. When we have presidents who are willing to nominate activist judges and a Senate that is unable to make a stand against them, this no longer becomes the case, they start voting on how they fell regardless of whether it passes Constitutional muster. In 2012 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to an Egyptian audience, had this to say “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, have an independent judiciary. It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done.” Does this sound like someone who feels that she is duty bound by the United States Constitution?
This brings us to the current occupier of the Oval Office, before he was President, Obama was on the record complaining that the Constitution is “a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the federal government can’t do to you but doesn’t say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.” President Obama’s examples of going around Congress are lengthy, most notably with the alterations to ObamaCare (what the Democrats repeatedly calling the law of the land), his actions in the Middle East including the attacks in Libya (leading from behind) and in Syria. Then lately, we have his Executive Action on immigration and deportations. As of this writing, about a month after the elections where Republicans became the majority party in the Senate and gained seats in the House how do they respond to rein in the President’s actions? They are on the verge of passing a 1603 page $1.1 Trillion spending bill to fund the government through September 2015 which places no serious constraints on ObamaCare and the President’s Executive Amnesty action.
So I ask again, is America still a Representative Republic or a true Democracy?