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2000 Ron Paul Chapter 63
10 July 2000
Home Page Contents Cached from Ron Pauls Congressional website.
Congressional Record Cached
2000 Ron Paul 63:1
Madam Speaker, I rise to address two shortcomings of S. Con. Res. 129. I am certainly in agreement with the sentiments behind this resolution. The promotion of knowledge about, and understanding of, American history are among the most important activities those who wish to preserve American liberty can undertake. In fact, I would venture to say that with my work with various educational organizations, I have done as much, if not more, than any other member of Congress to promote the study of American history.
2000 Ron Paul 63:2
Unfortunately, while I strongly support efforts to increase the American publics knowledge of history, I cannot support a resolution claiming to encourage Americans to embrace their constitutional heritage, while its very language showcases a fundamental misunderstanding of the beliefs of Americas founders and the drafters of the United States Constitution. Popular acceptance of this misunderstanding of the founders thought is much more dangerous to American liberty than an inability to name the exact date of the Battle at Bunker Hill.
2000 Ron Paul 63:3
In particular, the resolution refers to American democracy and the democratic principles upon which this country was founded. However, this country was founded not as a democracy but as a constitutional republic. Madam Speaker, the distinction between a democracy and a republic is more than just a matter of semantics. The fundamental principle in a democracy is majority rule. Democracies, unlike republics, do not recognize fundamental rights of citizens (outside the right to vote) nor do they limit the power of the government. Indeed, such limitations are often scored as intrusions on the will of the majority. Thus in a democracy, the majority, or their elected representatives, can limit an individuals right to free speech, defend oneself, form contracts, or even raise ones children. Democracies recognize only one fundamental right: the right to participate in the choosing of their rulers at a pre-determined time.
2000 Ron Paul 63:4
In contrast, in a republic, the role of government is strictly limited to a few well-defined functions and the fundamental rights of individuals are respected. A constitution limiting the authority of central government and a Bill of Rights expressly forbidding the federal government from abridging the fundamental rights of a people are features of a republican form of government. Even a cursory reading of the Federalist Papers and other works of the founders shows they understood that obtaining the consent of 51 percent of the people does not in any way legitimize government actions abridging individual liberty.
2000 Ron Paul 63:5
Madam Speaker, the confusion over whether America is a democracy, where citizens rights may be violated if the consent of 51 percent of the people may be obtained, or a republic, where the federal government is forbidden to take any actions violating a peoples fundamental rights, is behind many of the flawed debates in this Congress. A constitutionally literate Congress that understands the proper function of a legislature in a constitutional republic would never even debate whether or not to abridge the right of self-defense, instruct parents how to raise and educate their children, send troops to intervene in distant foreign quarrels that do not involve the security of the country, or even deny entire classes of citizens the fundamental right to life.
2000 Ron Paul 63:6
Secondly, it is not the proper role of the United States Congress to dictate educational tenets to states and local governments. After all, the United States Constitution does not give the federal government any power to dictate, or even suggest, curriculum. Instead the power to determine what is taught in schools is reserved to states, local communities, and, above all, parents.
2000 Ron Paul 63:7
In conclusion, by mistaking this countrys founding as being based on mass democracy rather than on republican principles, and by ignoring the constitutionally limited role of the federal government, this resolution promotes misunderstanding about the type of government necessary to protect liberty. Such constitutional illiteracy may be more dangerous than historical ignorance, since the belief that America was founded to be a democracy legitimizes the idea that Congress may violate peoples fundamental rights at will. I, therefore, encourage my colleagues to embrace Americas true heritage: a constitutional republic with strict limitations on the power of the central government.
This chapter appeared in Ron Pauls Congressional website at http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2000/cr071000.htm