Written by Frank Li
Are you ready for the 2016 Presidential election? Probably not! Most likely you are tired of the endless elections that result in little change, despite strident campaign slogans and promises by the candidates, or worse, big and negative changes only (Civil Rights Act: 50 Years Later)!
In contrast, the politicians and the mainstream media are beating the drum already. Now, for those who are obsessed with Hillary vs. Jeb in 2016, a basic question: are we still a republic?
America must not become a pseudo monarchy with just a few royal families (e.g. Clinton or Bush) taking turns to rule at the top!
1. “A republic, if you can keep it”
According to American legend, at the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, a woman stopped Benjamin Franklin as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation, inquiring whether we had a republic or a monarchy.
“A republic, if you can keep it”, Franklin is said to have replied. How prescient were his words?
2. What is a republic?
According to Wikipedia,
A republic is a form of government in which the country is considered a “public matter” (Latin: res publica), not the private concern or property of the rulers, and where offices of states are subsequently directly or indirectly elected or appointed rather than inherited. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of state is not a monarch..
In modern republics such as the United States, Russia, and India, the executive is legitimized both by a constitution and by popular suffrage. Montesquieu included both democracies, where all the people have a share in rule, and aristocracies or oligarchies, where only some of the people rule, as republican forms of government.
Here is my simple definition: today, if you are not a monarchy, you are a republic, with democracy (e.g. America) or without (e.g. China).
3. Republic vs. democracy
America was built as a republic (vs. monarchy). The debates between the Founding Fathers were merely about the form of the republic. Three examples:
Alexander Hamilton: an oligarchic republic.
John Adams: a balanced republic that addresses both the few and the many.
Thomas Jefferson: a representative republic, which has been loosely called a democratic republic.
Jefferson won the debate! As a result, America was built as a representative republic, although the representation, or the right to vote and serve, was initially limited to white males only. For more, read: America: Republic vs. Democracy.
4. Are we keeping it?
Yes, America is still a republic today. Although Bush II (2001-2009) following Bush I (1989-1993) should have made some of us wonder, there are precedents, such as John Adams (1797-1801) and John Quincy Adams (1825-1829).
Now, with Hillary vs. Jeb in 2016, all of us must wonder, seriously! Three basic questions:
Do some American politicians build their own political dynasties?
Does our system facilitate dynasty building?
Should we allow political dynasties?
My answers to the above three questions are yes, yes, and no, respectively.
Remember: America used to be a proud “nation of self-made men” (America: A Nation of Self-Made Men (and Women)!). Is that still true in America? Is the notion of a self-made man applicable to politics as well?
5. Looking beyond America
If you feel you are a worldly person but your information about the world is mostly obtained by listening to America’s mainstream media, you are most likely under the impression that China’s political system is corrupted with nepotism and princelings. You’d be wrong, at the top level, at least! Two points:
None of the top Chinese leaders since 1949 (i.e. the birth of the People’s Republic of China) has been linked to previous leaders by blood (or marriage)!
In contrast, most democracies in East Asia are stained with monarchical relationships, such as Taiwan (father-son), South Korea (father-daughter), Singapore (father-son), the Philippines (mother-son), and Japan (multiple father-son examples). All these countries, under the guise of democracy, are actually more monarchical than China!
A republic is a monumental advancement over a monarchy in human history (Towards an Ideal Form of Government)! Two examples:
America was built as a republic, in defiance of the British monarchy.
The French built the first republic in Europe via the bloody French Revolution.
Why is America going backwards? More pointedly,
Are political dynasties inevitable in a democracy like ours? Yes – it looks more and more likely, given the need of money, name recognition, and the power of the establishment!
America is already decidedly more monarchical than China, and will be even more so if America ends up with Hillary vs. Jeb in 2016! Still wondering why China has been advancing so fast over the past three and a half decades? Wonder not! It’s The Political System, Stupid!
Reject both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush in 2016 for the sake of our republic! For more, read my book: “The GOP Bible for 2016”!