As Benjamin Franklin left the Constitutional Convention, a woman asked him, "Sir, what have you given us?"
His immediate response was, "A republic ma'am, if you can keep it.."
Yet many Americans today have come to believe America’s governmental system is a democracy and not a republic.
The difference between these two is essential in understanding the American system.
Before we discuss political systems however, it is helpful to address the confusion about the political spectrum. Many people believe that the political spectrum places groups such as communists on the far left, fascists or dictators on the far right, and political moderates or centrists in the middle.
However, a more accurate political spectrum will show government having zero power on the far right to having 100% power on the far left. At the extreme right, there is no government. The extreme left features total government under such labels as communism, socialism, nazism, fascism, princes, potentates, dictators, kings, any form of total government.
Those who claim that nazis and fascist are right wing never define their terms. This amounts to spreading confusion. The type of government limited to its proper role of protecting the rights of the people is toward the middle of the spectrum. That’s where the Constitution of the United States is. Those who advocate such a form of government are constitutional moderates.
So, let’s analyze the basic forms of government. They are, monarchy or dictatorship ruled by one, oligarchy ruled by a few, democracy ruled by the majority, republic ruled by law, and anarchy which is ruled by no one. A discussion of these five will narrow down the types of government.
Looking first at monarchy or dictatorship. This form of government doesn’t really exist. In the practical sense, it’s always a group that puts one of its members up front. A king has his council of nobles or earls and every dictator has his bureaucrats or commissars, the men behind the scenes. This isn’t rule by one even though one person may be the visible leader. It’s rule by a group. So, let’s eliminate monarchy dictatorship because it never truly exists.
Oligarchy, which is rule by a group, is the most common form of government in all history and it is the most common form of government today. A powerful few rule most of the nations of the world and therefore oligarchy remains.
At the other end, we find anarchy, which means without government. Some people have looked over history and found that governments committed many of its worse crimes. Therefore, they decided that having no government might be a good idea but this is a mistake because as the ancient Greeks stated, without law there can be no freedom.
America’s Founding Fathers agreed and held that some amount of government is a necessary force in any civilized orderly society. In a state of anarchy, however everyone has to guard life, liberty, and property and the lives of family members. Movement is severely restricted and arming everyone is necessary to protect ones property at all times.
Civilized people have always hired someone to do the guarding, a sheriff, a police force, or some branch of government. Once law enforcement was in place, the people were freer. They could leave their property, work in the fields, and so on. In short, the proper amount of government makes everyone freer.