Fourth of Six

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Friday, October 29, 2004

Guest Column - The Meaning of the Right to Vote - October 25, 2004

Guest Column - The Meaning of the Right to Vote - October 25, 2004Contrary to popular rhetoric, America was founded, not as a "democracy," but as a constitutional republic--a political structure under which the government is bound by a written constitution to the task of protecting individual rights. "Democracy" does not mean a system that holds public elections for government officials; it means a system in which a majority vote rules everything and everyone, and in which the individual thus has no rights. In a democracy, observed James Madison in The Federalist Papers, "there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention [and] have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property."

The right to vote derives from the recognition of man as an autonomous, rational being, who is responsible for his own life and who should therefore freely choose the people he authorizes to represent him in the government of his country. That autonomy is contradicted if a majority of voters is allowed to do whatever it wishes to the individual citizen. The right to vote is not a sanction for a gang to deprive other individuals of their freedom. Rather, because a free society requires a certain type of government, it is a means of installing the officials who will safeguard the individual rights of each citizen.

What makes America unique is not that it has elections--even dictatorships hold elections--but that its elections take place in a country limited by the absolute principle of individual freedom. From our Declaration of Independence, which upholds the "unalienable rights" of every individual, among which are "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," to our Constitution, whose Bill of Rights protects freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the freedom of private property, respect for individual liberty is the essence of America--and the root of her greatness."

1 Comments:

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Dedwarmo said...

Amen!

 

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