The American System Is Not a Democracy
March 5, 2010
WASHINGTON--Today marks the 66th anniversary of the German Nazi party’s rise to power--not through a bloody coup, but a democratic vote. It achieved 44 percent of the vote, enabling it to join with the Nationalist Party and achieve a parliamentary majority. No one would accept that a democratic vote justifies Nazi atrocities, yet today many people believe that the U.S. government is entitled to do anything the majority pleases, regardless of whose rights are violated--from forcing individuals to buy health insurance to stripping unpopular financiers of their bonuses to banning incandescent light bulbs.
But, said Dr. Leonard Peikoff, founder of the Ayn Rand Institute and author of "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand," “The American system is not a democracy. It is a constitutional republic. A democracy, if you attach meaning to terms, is a system of unlimited majority rule; the classic example is ancient Athens. And the symbol of it is the fate of Socrates, who was put to death legally, because the majority didn’t like what he was saying, although he had initiated no force and had violated no one’s rights.
“Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights: the majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions. In principle, the democratic government is all-powerful. Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation; it is not a form of freedom . . . .
“The American system is a constitutionally limited republic, restricted to the protection of individual rights. In such a system, majority rule is applicable only to lesser details, such as the selection of certain personnel. But the majority has no say over the basic principles governing the government. It has no power to ask for or gain the infringement of individual rights.”
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