Words have meaning. I know that sounds obvious, but think about it for a moment: to effectively communicate, we all have to have a basic understanding of what the words we use mean – and subtle differences in definition can snowball into avalanches of misunderstanding.
To illustrate, let’s start with something simple: cola.
If a person wants to bottle and distribute Coca-Cola, they have to apply to the Coca-Cola Company to do so. Their production facility falls under strict guidelines, and they have to stick to the recipe exactly.
If they want to market to a group of people that like Coke, but want the sugar removed, they have to label their cola as “Diet Coke” or “Coke Zero” (depending on the recipe).
If they want to market to a group of people that like Coke, but want the caffeine removed, they have to label their cola as “Caffeine Free”.
If their customers like vanilla added, they have to label it as “Vanilla Coke”. The same goes for “Cherry Coke”.
Put simply, a bottler can’t change the recipe willy nilly. They can’t leave certain ingredients out, or add additional ingredients in. They have to stick to the recipe or risk losing their licence to bottle Coke.
The words we use to describe the Coca-Cola are controlled by the company to protect their brand and to ensure a consistent experience when drinking their beverage.
What this means is, regardless of whether you’re in West Valley or Cache Valley, if you ask for a Coke (whether bottled, canned, or from the fountain), you know exactly what you’re getting – and you’ll get exactly what you’re expecting.
We’ll come back to what that means in this context a little later.
Are we a Democracy or a Republic?
Continuing with the premise that “words have meaning”, are we a “democracy” or a
At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Dr. James McHenry (one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention) noted that he had overheard a conversation between a woman and a fellow delegate, Benjamin Franklin wherein she asked what form of government the Convention had created. Franklin replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it”.1,2
His answer flies in the face of what I was taught in school: The United States is a “democracy” – but that’s not particularly accurate.
From the Greek dēmokratia, dēmos means “the people” and kratia means “power, or rule”. So, in that sense, where we do not have an aristocratic or monarchistic “ruling class”, one could make the argument that we are a “democracy”. However, that word generally has the connotation that the majority rules – which is opposite of the purpose and protections of a Republic.
In the 2018 General Election Results for Cache County Utah, 40,622 ballots were cast out of 54,526 registered voters3, and a census population of 127,0684. Put another way, only ⅓ of “The People” in Cache County showed up to vote. A simple majority of those ballots case is all that’s needed to elect a mayor or senator, approve debt, or restrict liberties. In that election, a mere 16% of “The People” could force their collective, “democratic” will on the remaining 84% of “The People” in Cache County. Sure, not all of those 127,068 “People” are eligible to vote: some are under 18, some aren’t Citizens, some have had their voting Rights revoked – but that 16% can still foist their will on the others, and it’s “fair” because it’s “democratic”.
That’s why the Constitutional Convention gave us a Republic.
In our Republic, government is delegated few and specific powers, which it derives from the consent of the governed. Each individual is created equal to any other, and is endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Through the Republican form of government, we elect individuals from among The People to take a turn supporting, upholding, and defending our Rights – to make sure that the will of the masses (which is essentially “mob rule”) does not infringe upon the Rights of any individual.
To add to the confusion, we have to be careful not to confuse our form of government with the two major political parties which share the same names.
What is a “Republican”?
Moving over to Political Parties, first we must understand what they are, and what purpose they serve.
A Political Party is a voluntary association of people who share the same ideologies and organize themselves to promote those ideologies through community and political influence. Although the First Amendment does not explicitly mention freedom of association, the Supreme Court decided that this freedom was protected by the Amendment5,6, and that “implicit in the right to engage in activities protected by the First Amendment” is “a corresponding right to associate with others in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious, and cultural ends”. Thus, people who believe in different moral or philosophical ideologies may voluntarily associate with whichever political party they feel will do the best job supporting, upholding, and defending their beliefs – and similarly, those organizations have the right to define their own rules for membership.
Contrary to popular opinion, a “Republican” is not someone who simply affixes an “R” after their name (registered, elected, appointed, or otherwise).
Rather, a “Republican” is someone who acknowledges and actively supports, upholds, and defends the core values (“Planks”) of the Republican Party Platform. In Cache County, our Platform7 contains 11 Planks.
- If a person only supports half of the Planks in the Platform, isn’t it logical that they’re only 50% “Republican”?
- If an elected official only casts votes which strengthen the Republican Platform half the time, isn’t it logical that they’re only 50% “Republican”?
Some politicians don’t like this rationale, arguing that a “West Valley Republican” is different than a “Cache County Republican”. In other words, being “Republican” can mean anything to anyone – which is another way of saying that it affiliating as a “Republican” no real meaning because it varies based on geography, ethnicity, or religion. Hogwash! But it turns out that this view is very convenient because it frees those who share this opinion from protecting and defending core Republican values to simply doing whatever is politically convenient at the time – “changing the recipe” at will.
To those who feel this way, a politician can apparently self-identify as “Republican” just to get elected, then forget what that means until the next election cycle comes around. I boldly reject with this “wishy-washy”, flip-flop definition of “Republican” — and you should, too.
If a politician doesn’t “stick to the recipe”, they should probably identify themselves as “caffeine-free, diet republicans”, by identifying which of the core Republican values they won’t commit to uphold, protect, and actively defend.
Why am I “Republican”?
When I pledge my allegiance to the flag of these United States of America, I do so to the Republic, for which it stands – and for the individual protections the Republic provides.
I’ve read the Platforms of the major political parties in Utah, and my personal values most closely align with the core values of the Utah Republican Party. By accepting the nomination to serve as a Delegate and on the Executive Committee of the Cache County Republican Party, I’ve taken upon myself the solemn responsibility to not only “align” with those values, but to actively support, uphold, and defend those values. Part of that responsibility is to call out politicians who may not be doing the best job defending the Planks in our Platform – “diet Republicans”.
This is one of the checks and balances of the Republic our Founders gave us, and is one of the strengths of the Utah Caucus and Convention System – which gives a strong voice to individual Republicans who have elected and entrusted a few of their neighbors to take a turn supporting, upholding, and defending our core values – and holding politicians accountable to the same.
- >The American Historical Review, vol. 11, 1906, page 618
- The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand, vol. 3, appendix A, p. 85 (1911, reprinted 1934)
- SCOTUS, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Alabama (1958)
- SCOTUS, Roberts v. United States Jaycees (1984)
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