Round Table Discussion

A Share in the Patria: What a Republic Is Good For

God likes farmers.  Not gigantic corporate agribusiness, but farmers.  He made man from the dirt and for the dirt, to cultivate His Garden.  Adam means “of the red” or “of the soil.”

When the children of Israel clamored for a king, so that they might rely on him to protect them from foreign invaders, the prophet warned them that “he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.”  God had been their sovereign, but they wanted what the other nations had.  So He gave them what they wanted.

Any system of government, from a democracy to an aristocracy to a monarchy, is capable of drowning its people in tyranny.  “I see no infallible criterion for defining the nature of a government, except its acts,” wrote John Taylor of Caroline in Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated (1820).  “If the acts of a monarchy, aristocracy and democracy are the same, these forms of government are to a nation essentially the same also.  To contend for forms only, is to fight for shadows.”

How, then, should we define the nature of a republic?  The word itself was batted around by all of the Founding Fathers, but its usage varied.  John Adams, who favored aristocracy and “balanced power,” wrote that the only “rational”...

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