John Locke, Moses Maimonides, and Ibn Rushd struggled with this. Our founding fathers and then wrestled with these basic questions.
There are many in America, Europe and the Islamic world that continue to debate whether “Law of ‘man’ “, supercedes “Law of God”. Many in the Evangelical Red States do not agree in allowing abortion since it violates “Law of God”. Many evangelicals want America to be a “Christian state” and may succeed in doing this if present Red colorization of states continue. We saw this happen in India where a communal party was able to rise to power from 2 seats in parliament to 240 seats and eventually form a “Hindu” government. The same happened in Hitler’s Germany and Italy. Voting spawned dictators with devastating consequences for millions of people.
I have tremendous respect for the constitution of my sweet land of liberty. Our constitution has some very strong points. The bicameral legislature patterned on the “Indian confederation” balanced the rights of the individual states vs. federalism and has been emulated around the world.
The government evolved to allow the Supreme Court as an equal and third wheel of government, even though this was never the intent of the original framers of the constitution. Our glorious Constitution was based on the Magna Carta. The most important part of our constitution is chapter 39 taken from the Magna Carta.
“Nullus liber homo capiatur vel imprisonetur aut disseisietur de libero tenemento suo, vel libertatibus, vel liberis consuetudinibus suis, aut utlagetur, aut exuletur, aut aliquo modo destruatur, nec super eum ibimus, nec super eum mittemus, nisi per legale judicium parium suorum, vel per legem terr.”
In English this shows up as “No freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or be disseised of his freehold, or liberties, or free customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any otherwise destroyed; nor will we not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land.“
Contrary to popular belief, the original was not even written in English. It was translated into Latin from the original Arabic. “Trial by jury” was of course an Arab invention popular in Al-Andulusia (Spain). The Magna Carta was taken from the much despised and misunderstood Shariah Law. See John Maksidi’s research consecrated and published in the North Carolina Law journal (copy can be retrieved or mailed to you). The Bill of Rights were taken from Ibn Tufail, Ibn Haitam and canonized (“canon’ is from the Arabic word “qanoon”) by Hamilton and Jefferson as the Bill of Rights.
I disagree with the disneyland version of history that states that “the founding fathers set up a constitutional system in which the power of the state flowed from and is dependent on the power of the people”. These particular ideas may work well as candy for 8th grade (his)tory books but it is a bit far removed from reality. For a dose of reality, we need to know that the word “democracy” does not appear in the constitution of the United States.
As historians Charles Austin Beard and Mary Ritter Beard wrote (1939): “At no time, at no place, in solemn convention assembled, through no chosen agents, had the American people officially proclaimed the United States to be a democracy. The Constitution did not contain the word or any word lending countenance to it, except possibly the mention of ‘We the people,’ in the preamble … When the Constitution was framed, no respectable person called himself a democrat.“
The USA was created as “republic” not a “democracy”. The word democracy was coined in the late 40s to “manufacture consent” for the war against “fascism” and “Nazism” to spread “democracy” and freedom in Europe.
James Madison’s Federalist Paper #10 discusses the issue of Democracies. In it he states: “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of Government, have erroneously supposed, that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions and their passions.” We can see from this that Mr. Madison would never have advocated a pure Democracy for his new nation. http://www.wealth4freedom.com/truth/13/DEMvsREPUB.htm
About 370 BC, Plato wrote: “A democracy is a state in which the poor, gaining the upper hand, kill some and banish others, and then divide the offices among the remaining citizens equally.”
Alexander Hamilton, in debate, said: “Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate government.”
“Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the” Ayn Rand
There are serious flaws in the US constitution, which allows a majority to completely over-rule the rights of minorities or allows a minority opinion to be imposed on the majority if the vote is split. For example, if there are 3 candidates in an election and two get 30% of the vote and the third gets 40% of the vote. Now the person with 40% of the votes gets elected, even though 60% of the people opposed his election. This taken care of on the French and German constitutions by having run-offs.
How about a few quotations demonstrating the disdain our founders held for democracy?
James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 10: In a pure democracy, “there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual.”
At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph said, ” … that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.”
John Adams said, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
? Chief Justice John Marshall observed, “Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.“
In a word or two, the founders knew that a democracy would lead to the same kind of tyranny the colonies suffered under King George III
Not to digress to far, but this is very similar of “manufacturing consent” to spread “democracy” in the Middle East, where we support a minority non-pashtun government in Afghanistan and are now in the process of replacing a secular government with a pro-Iranian ayatollah led theocracy in Iraq. In fact all the founding father, Jefferson, Hamilton repeatedly spoke up AGAINST “democracy” as a system of government for the USA.
The American system of government however imperfect that strives to allow people to control the government may work well in literate societies. Our glorious experiment in democracy is surely a beacon to the world and yes it is based on the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions.
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