A Federal or National Republic?

We often hear that the United States is a “republic not a democracy.”

This has great rhetorical effect for “conservatives”, and when I published my first book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers, I often had to use the same language on radio interviews.

That is what “conservatives” understand.

I remember one leftist journalist asking me at a book signing, in an attempted gotcha moment, to describe the difference between a democracy and a republic, because after all, you vote for people in a republic and isn’t that democratic?

Bless his heart. Of course “democracy” exists in a “republican system” of government but he clearly confused the process of selecting people to serve in government with the system of government, i.e. not a monarchy or an oligarchy–though that is precisely what we have in a soft form today.

But that doesn’t really tell the whole story.

If the United States general government disappeared today, we would still have republican government in America.

In some cases it would even be more democratic.

That’s because the United States is a federal republic, or a republic of republics.

Every State already has a republican form of government mandated by its own constitution. That would not change in the event we had a State or a group of States secede from the Union or if the people of the States through a convention decided to abolish the entire central government.

Federalism, the glue that held the Union together until 1861, allowed for the States to handle most domestic concerns with the singular voice of the general government in foreign policy and trade.

That’s it.

This worked because the States had republican governments. The Constitution guaranteed that each State maintained a republican form, but no State wanted otherwise, not even if the righteous cause mythologists somehow think that governments in the South were “oligarchies.”

History does not support this claim. Thomas Jefferson, of course, insisted that New England, not the South, shaded closer to a monarchical system than any other region in America.

You don’t hear much about this anymore.

Republican governments is in the Anglo-American political DNA. That could change with the massive cultural shift taking place in the United States, but it would not entirely disappear.

Opponents of decentralization and federalism just don’t get it. They think the Sun rises and sets in Washington D.C.

We know otherwise, which is why you are thinking locally and acting locally.

I discuss republican government on Episode 780 of The Brion McClanahan Show.

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