In a meeting the other evening an astute lady made the statement that she is a constitutionalist. This would be construed to mean that she believes in a republic form of government over a democratic form of government. Sadly, most Americans have no idea what the differences are and why they are important. Americans are no longer taught in school what the differences would be, and that includes law school students who eventually become judges. That is correct, very few judges understand the differences between a republic and a democracy.
Remember, our founders unanimously rejected the United States becoming a democracy. The founders were students of governmental history and knew that democracy is in fact a dictatorship of the majority over the minority. They also understood that the majority is easily manipulated, highly emotional, and that the majority is a constantly narrowing number. For instance, in Athens, because who could and who could not vote was ruled mostly by 2501 people despite its population being over 400,000. Read my book “Republic or Democracy Does it Matter” for the details.
A Constitutionalist, like the lady above, has been defined as someone who believes in the principles of limited government and individual rights. Constitutionalism is a political ideology that stresses the importance of individual rights and limited government. Constitutionalists are not anarchists or socialists. They don’t want to abolish government or redistribute wealth through social programs. Instead, they want to ensure that government only does what it’s supposed to do and nothing more.
Some would claim that constitutionalism and democracy are synonymous. Nothing could be further from the truth. Constitutionalism limits the rights of the majority and protects the rights of the minority. Constitutionalism, like a republic, places the authority of the law, or in the case of the United States the Constitution, over the power and authority of the majority or any other institution including the legislative branch, the executive branch, the judicial branch, or the majority of ballots or votes cast.
For instance, Congress, the President, or the Supreme Court do not have the authority to add any power to the government that is not expressly listed in the Constitution in Article 1. Section 8. of the Constitution, nor do they have the power or authority to modify in any way the First Amendment. Freedom of speech cannot be abridged. That means free speech is absolute.
A Constitutionalist believes in a representative republic where the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land overriding congressional bills, executive orders, court opinions, or votes by the people.
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