My high school history teacher use to say that history can not be taught in a moral vacuum. The value system of a text book’s authors plays a part in what events are recorded and in what light. The same can be said of the teacher. Being born in North Carolina in the early 1950’s gave me a good example of this. The text books in the South never used the term Civil War: It was always referred to as the War between the States.
Recently, there has been a lot in news about the Texas Board of education’s curriculum changes. Apparently, the Board felt that the current text had a leftist bias and needed to move to the right. They have come under much criticism. Although I do not agree with all their changes, I do believe that the Tenth Amendment gives them the right to teach Texas children as Texans see fit. However, the value system through which we view history does not empower us to replace fact with fiction.
One report stated that teachers will refer to America as a Constitutional Republic instead of a Democratic Republic. Perhaps this was done to keep children from associating the term, Democratic Republic, with the Democratic and Republican Parties and thereby inferring that the Constitution is equal based on both liberal and conservative values. I do not know their reasoning behind this change; I only know it might lead to a dangerous misconception of our constitution.
Let us explore the meanings of each word and the implications of the two phrases. My 1967 edition of Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language defines a Republic as a state or nation in which the supreme power rest in all the citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives elected by them. There are much more recent definitions but this one seemed the most straight-forward to me. I encourage readers to research for themselves and reach their own conclusions. Constitutional means of or in accordance with the constitution of a government, society, etc. A constitution is the system of fundamental laws and principles of a government, state, society, etc or the document in which these are written down. Democratic is defined as of or for all the people. A democracy is a government by the people, either directly or through representatives. Also, it is defined as the acceptance and practice of the principle of equality of rights, opportunity and treatment.
So all that is required for a government to be considered a Constitution Republic is that it’s based on a system of laws that set forth who is entitled to vote and how the representative government is to be structured. Single party systems, in which only official party members are entitled to vote, qualify as Constitution Republics. Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s U.S.S.R., Communist China and Vietnam are examples of how far a government can be from that which our fore Fathers intended and still technically be Constitutional Republics.
By added a Bill of Rights and the additions of the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth and nineteenth amendments, the founding fathers and millions of Americans who followed have made the government set forth in the Constitution a Democratic-Republic. Though the term is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, it does appear in the writings of many of the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention (the Constitution Convention) when referring to our government.
Though no official title is given in the constitution to the type of government it has empowered, one can easily infer from the Constitution and its amendments that it is a Democratic-Republic. Like they saying goes, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.
@Thomas A Salley
June 14, 2010
Used with the permission of Thomas Salley – Political Op Ed Writer for Rose Speaks.com
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