By FJ Rocca
The term “liberal” came from the Enlightenment and originally applied to those who believed in and defended the rights of individuals over the power of tyranny. There was no such thing as the rights of collectives or groups. The people, meant each and every individual citizen. Thus, the definitive form of authentic liberal government is the republic, wherein rights of individuals are codified and protected by constitutions that protect those rights form abrogation by a government that is supposed to serve them. A pure democracy is not the tool of individual rights, but the mechanism by which said rights are taken by a majority who will something.
A Pure democracy is a collectivist form of government, in which “the people” are a mass, not of individuals, but of parts of that mass. A pure democracy is nothing more than mob rule, unless it is tempered by a republican substructure, such as a constitution and a form of government with checks and balances to secure the rights of every individual citizen against abrogation of those rights, regardless of the will of any majority. In a pure democracy, if a majority of the people decide to behead someone because he or she is black or red or of some religion other than that approved of by the majority, they can behead that person according to law. In a true republic which guarantees the right of due process and the right to life unless a capital offense has been committed, the rights of individuals are guaranteed. Thus, a majority cannot simply abrogate those individual rights. They cannot behead anyone simply by vote.
In a true republic, a document, such as a constitution, is put in place to guarantee that each citizen’s rights, derived from the fundamentals of life, liberty and property, are unalienable. Democratic processes are used almost exclusively to select representatives who will uphold the constitution and the individual rights it guarantees. A true republican form of government enables people to vote their will, but have it tempered by that central set of rules in their governing constitution. Thus, amendments to a constitution may be put to popular vote (referendum) but must be introduced, thereby approved of, by the representatives elected by the people.
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