From the February 2000 Idaho Observer:

Democracy -- A good thing?

by Hari Heath

Our “New World” leaders speak ardently of democracy. We are told that we must “make the world safe for democracy,” by fighting little wars all over the globe. Government schools tell the children that our country is great because we live in a democracy. Democracy is the kind of government that people all over the world want, or so they tell us.

Are we a democracy, and is democracy such a good thing?

Literally, democracy means the people as the ruling power. In a country with benevolent and compassionate citizens, democracy could be a good thing. The history of human nature, however, is frequently punctuated with evil deeds. One popular definition of democracy is “two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner.” The majority dictating the future of the individual.

Democracy, by its very nature, is mob rule -- the majority of the moment rules, and the individual has no rights, save those which the majority will grant at any given moment -- until the next mob rules. And how have those in our history, familiar with democracy, defined it? Alexander Hamilton said, “It has been observed that a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people themselves deliberated, never possessed one feature of good government. Their very character was tyranny: Their figure deformity.”

John Adams wrote, “Remember, democracy never lasts long; it soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

James Madison said: “...democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, the rights of property; and have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

Lord Acton said, “Democracy inevitably takes the tone of the lower portions of society, and, if there are great diversities, degrades the higher. Slavery is the only protection that has ever been known against this tendency, and it is so far true that slavery is essential to democracy.”

About 370 B.C. Plato wrote: “A democracy is a state in which the poor, gaining the upper hand, kill some and banish others and then divide the offices among the remaining citizens equally.”

Is America a Democracy?

As historians Charles Austin Beard and Mary Ritter Beard wrote in 1939: “At no time, at no place, in solemn convention assembled, through no chosen agents, had the American people officially proclaimed the United States to be a democracy. The Constitution did not contain the word democracy or any word lending countenance to it, except possibly the mention of 'We the people,' in the preamble... When the Constitution was framed, no respectable person called himself a democrat.”

Are we a “democracy” as President Clinton so often claims? Why do they teach this “we-are-a-democracy” concept in school, when each school day begins with “I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic, for which it stands...”?

Republic? Did they say republic?

Not only does it say republic, but our Constitution guarantees it! Article IV, Section IV, of the federal Constitution states: “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a republican form of government...”.

Westbrook Pegler wrote, in 1951: “Did I say republic? By God, yes...I said republic. Long live the glorious republic of the United States of America. DAMN DEMOCRACY. It is a fraudulent term, used often by ignorant persons, but no less often by intellectual fakers, to describe an infamous mixture of socialism, miscegenation, graft, confiscation of property, and a denial of personal rights to individuals whose virtuous principals make them offensive.”

In our constitutional republic we elect people to certain offices, to represent our interests (at least in theory) and carry out the duties of government. No mob in the town square laying down the law of the day. Our republic rests upon the balanced triangle of a three-branch system, supposedly, each branch keeping the others in check. Legislators make the laws, the executive officers enforce and administer those laws, and the judiciary decides whether the imposition of these laws are proper, and in accord with the “contract” between the people and government known as the Constitution. A republic, by definition, is “a government by representatives chosen by the people.”

Democracy? Not here. Except for one little place in our Idaho Constitution. Yes, we Idahoans can, en mass, legislate our own laws. In Article III, Section I, of the Idaho Constitution “the people reserve to themselves the power to approve or reject at the polls any act or measure passed by the legislature” and “ propose laws, and enact the same at the polls independent of the legislature.”

These powers known as the referendum and the initiative are the only places where any semblance of democracy exists. These “democratic methods,” along with the fully informed jury can be a final check on the excesses of government. How can we use it to recover our country from that great “abscess,” the socialist, administrative regime of modern day government?

The Great Squirm of I-695

The people of Washington state delivered a mighty blow to the state socialists with an initiative this fall. It really wasn't that big a deal. Car licensing costs were dropped to a flat $30 rate and any tax increase would require a vote of the people. Only two percent of the state budget was affected, but the reapers of socialism have thrashed and squirmed, claiming government as we know it may not survive the impact of this initiative.

Somehow, a reduction in the cost of car licensing will wreack havoc on nearly every “service” government provides. The threats of the demise of public services have continued for months, from many agencies that have nothing to do with cars or licensing. So far, we haven't noticed. The reapers in Washington's socialist government briefly thought about a court challenge to prevent I-695 from taking effect, but with an 8-to-1 vote passing the initiative, they decided to suck it up and tough it out.

All this squirm and concern for only two percent of the state budget? How can this initiative and referendum process be used to create some real change in the excess/abscess of government? Let's take it a few steps farther.

Constitutional Laws?

One of the biggest reasons government has gotten so out of hand is because our legislators think they can legislate in all cases whatsoever. They seem to think that any subject can be defined and controlled by their laws. They ignore Article I -- our Declaration of Rights -- and legislate full steam ahead with the “there- ought-to-be-a-law” socialist agenda. If the legislature is free to make laws on any subject, why do the Articles in our state Constitution define, limit and command the subject matter of legislation? Since our legislators like to busy themselves with an annual barrage of legislation, why don't we people, with an initiative, give them something worthwhile to do?

Can you imagine a new law, passed by initiative, commanding that each law cite the portion of the Constitution that authorized its enactment? How about if we gave the legislature 10 years to review all the laws on the books and repass them with a clause citing the constitutional authority supporting their enactment? What if any law, which had no constitutional authority behind it, became void after the 10 year period? Would the socialist reapers squirm a little at that law? Would you find a whole lot more of your personal freedom returned after that initiative was passed? Who would vote against a requirement that laws be constitutional?

We could create an initiative something like this:

“The people of the state of Idaho, in creating the instruments of government that serve them, do not yield their sovereignty except as the Constitution expressly provides. Therefore, the people hereby command, by initiative, that all laws passed by the legislature shall state the expressed constitutional provision or provisions which support and authorize the particular legislative enactment. The Legislature of Idaho shall have 10 years to conform all laws in Idaho to this requirement. Therefore, all laws which do not conform to this requirement on, or after, January 1, 2011, shall be void, ab initio, with no force and effect of law. This Act of the people shall never be repealed by the Legislature.”

Now wouldn't that change a few things in government today? The legislative hordes in Boise would be kept busy finding and declaring the constitutional basis for the last 110 years of legislation, instead of the usual full on blitz of the socialist agenda.

Accountability for Lawyers and Judges?

Another area of government in major need of citizen reform is the “justice” system. Anyone who has been there, needs no explanation of what the problem is. A lawless horde of lawyers and judges have created a closed circuit monopoly venture out of the third branch of our republic. By developing and adopting their own “rules,” independent of any acts of the legislature, they control the procedure and practices in the courts. By concocting a licensing scheme, construing “membership” in the privately-held monopoly of the Bar Association as a “license,” they avoid any scrutiny or control from the executive branch, which normally issues and revokes licenses.

The three-branch system of our republic works only when each branch is held in check by the others.

Quite simply, the judicial branch has become, by design, an independent, separate, and “in-house” controlled component of government. It even goes so far as to declare itself “immune” from liability through acts of judicial “legislation” called doctrines. As the arbiters of government the judicial branch has the final say on all things governmental. With an army of lawyers commanded by a hierarchy of judicial “officers,” all controlled through mandatory membership in their private association (the Bar), people don't stand a chance in the legislative process.

Could an initiative change all this? In California there is an effort to pass a Judicial Accountability Initiative Law (JAIL)*. As proposed, this initiative would eliminate immunity from civil liability for judges in deliberate violations of the law. Three special grand juries would also be established with the power to indict, convict and sentence judicial officers for criminal conduct.

An initiative effort in Oregon has also sought to create a citizen review board where complaints of misconduct by attorneys and judges can be reviewed and, if found to violate the laws, they can be disbarred and/or removed from office.

Can that closed-circuit grip on our third branch of government be broken with a citizens' initiative imposing judicial accountability? Yes -- if enough citizens band together for a statewide initiative effort.

Citizen Control of Corporations?

What is the real power that governs America today? Corporations, through their massive collection of “wealth” and the “purchase” of our political leaders through campaign financing, largely own and operate our country. This is quite contrary to the actual structure of corporations in their relationship to the state that permits their existence and operation.

How might the corporate powers be controlled through an initiative? Corporations are state-chartered fictional entities created to provide limited liability and generate capital “wealth” through the issuance of stock. Article XI of the Idaho Constitution governs corporations. Section III allows for the revocation or alteration of corporate charters. Section VII requires that all corporations file an acceptance of the provisions of the state Constitution, in binding form, with the Secretary of State.

Section VIII allows the taking of corporate property under eminent domain and prohibits the state from permitting corporations to infringe upon the equal rights of individuals or the general well being of the state. Section XVIII provides that no corporation shall combine or make contract with any other incorporated company to fix the price or regulate the production of any article of commerce, produce of the soil, or consumption by the people. The legislature is required to pass laws enforcing this, by adequate penalties, up to and including the forfeiture of their corporate property and franchise.

Would corporations be king if they were subject to a special grand jury or citizens' review board, authorized by an initiative, to review, prosecute and provide remedies for corporate misconduct? If corporations were subject to direct and independent scrutiny, with their corporate property and the charter sanctioning their existence on the line, would corporations be a little more careful in their operations?

Properly, people created the government which serves them and corporations are subservient to the state governments which charter the corporations.

In reality, all powerful corporations control government, which has learned how to dominate and control a once-free people because the enforcement mechanisms which maintain our proper master/servant relationships are either ineffective or gone. An initiative to control the corporations could begin the process to reestablish our proper relationship with corporations which exist at the permission of “our” state government.

A little “democracy” attached to our republic could be a good thing. There are many areas where an initiative or referendum could reform our government. “We the people” hold the final check and balance on our government. All it takes is a little “initiative” on our part.

*More information on the Judicial Accountability Initiative Law can be found at:, or e-mail Ron Branson at, or write to: JAIL, PO Box 207, North Hollywood, California 91603.

For information on the requirements to put an initiative on the ballot in Idaho contact the Secretary of State at (208) 334-2300, or if you live in another state, the Secretary of State in your state.

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