We are informed, thanks to Constitution signer James McHenry’s diary, of a specific exchange immediately after the historic document was completed. “Well, Doctor, what have we got,” a Mrs. Powel from Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin’s response came immediately, with no hesitation: “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Despite all the safeguards put in place to prevent it, the Republic does seem to be devolving over time into mere democracy – a system no less oppressive than any other to the minority that dares dream of liberty. President Trump and many of his supporters question the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral win, citing the ridiculously low number of counties the former vice president won – a mere 16% of the national total. While highly improbable, the unheard-of vote totals from those crowded cities aren’t impossible – and that raises a terrifying question: Despite all the Founders did to protect it, can the Republic survive America’s urban explosion?
The United States – A Firm League of Friendship
The Articles of Confederation gave our new nation a name – but it also provided a format, which, in no small degree, was preserved in the more recent Constitution. Article II said that each state would retain its sovereignty, freedom, and independence. Article III declared that each state agreed to enter into a “firm league of friendship with each other.”
Though the Constitution established a somewhat larger government with a little more authority, that general idea of independent sovereign states joined in a firm league of friendship did not change. The Constitution lays out the federal government’s authority and – in the Bill of Rights – declares any powers not explicitly delegated by it to the federal government to be held by the states and the people within.
Thomas Jefferson may have explained the federal plan best while campaigning for the 1800 presidential election:
“Let the General Government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better, the more they are left free to manage for themselves, and our General Government may be reduced to a very simple organization, and a very inexpensive one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants.”
This echoes the words of James Madison, who said:
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce … The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
Devoured by Democracy?
Over the years, the constant push for direct democracy has eroded one protection after another until we are left with very few vestiges of the Republic that protected the rights of the minorities from the tyranny of the majority. For years, many on the left have decried the Electoral College, bemoaning how undemocratic it is. They are right, of course. The Electoral College is one of the few remaining safeguards against democracy. Without it, the people scattered across the more sparsely populated states would scarcely have a say in presidential elections.
Has the continued urbanization of our nation finally broken the final constitutional dam that has kept so many rural voices from being drowned out by the cacophony of the urban majority? The total number of Biden votes seems to be heavily impacted by fraudulent – or, at least, highly suspect – mail-in ballots from a list of specific urban, Democrat-controlled areas. Despite this, the left is right to point to the population density of the relative handful of counties won by Joe Biden. Whether it was enough to legitimately swing the election or not, it is still a factor that may inevitably render the Republic powerless. Founder and president of Turning Point USA Charlie Kirk tweeted the shocking situation: Barack Obama got 69,000,000 votes in 873 counties, Donald Trump won 75,000,000 votes in 2,497 counties, yet Joe Biden managed 81,000,000 votes in a mere 477 counties? Updated counts show Biden winning 509 counties, but that’s still a suspicious discrepancy.
According to the US Census Bureau, Los Angeles County had a little over ten million people as of July 1, 2019. That’s more than any but the top nine most populous states in the Union! The 8.3 million-person New York City is more populous than all but the top 11 states. Combined, that’s about 5.5% of the total U.S. population – in just one mega-city on the East Coast and a single county on the West. There were allegedly 509, mostly densely populated, blue islands in the sea of red that is the county view of the 2020 electoral map.
Will the Wolves Soon Feast?
The Founders feared the tyranny of mob rule as much as that of a king. “It is of great importance in a republic, not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers; but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part,” James Madison long ago explained. Or, as Lord Acton put it:
“The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”
Direct democracy brings no more liberty and justice for all than being subject to a king or any other supreme authority – it has often been described as two wolves and a sheep voting on what to eat. With the Democratic Party pushing for a complete rule by majority by any means necessary – so long as the numbers are on their side – two questions remain: What happens when the Republic collapses under this weight, and is it already too late to stop it?
Read more from James Fite.