Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The U.S. Is Not A Democracy. It’s A Republic if You Can Keep It. Part 5

By Mark Herr, CSG Administrative Staff

In parts 1 through 4, we learned the U.S. is a republican structure of government. Continuing on with the airplane analogy, our system contains a variety of control cockpits, or the best parts of various forms of government. For example, our system contains one aspect of democracy: voting once per year for five minutes; monarchy: U.S. president for four years; oligarchy: most school boards for four years.

We also learned the architects reserved structural maintenance solely and exclusively in the hands of the governed – remember Mrs. Eliza Powel? After our introduction to her, we should be inspired to learn the U.S. republican structure, recruit a local maintenance crew, and start ‘keeping it.’  
Language of Liberty

It is worth repeating the ‘airplane’ metaphor. At present, the Left-side passengers are extremely angry with and ‘resisting’ the Right-side pilot for the direction he is taking the plane (the country). These same passengers, fueled by contempt for the Right side, are verbally condoning violence against the Right-side passengers and pilot. They hate the pilot for turning the plane to the right and the passengers on the Right side for supporting the pilot.

On the other side of the aircraft, the Right-side passengers, in contempt for the Left side, enthusiastically support the pilot for turning the plane to the right. They are even exuberant that their pilot has control. Some on the Right will blindly follow the pilot no matter how erratically he flies the plane, as did the Left when their pilot was in the cockpit.

Ironically, an aircraft is one of the safest places above the earth when it is airborne. Just as any airplane must overcome gravity, our U.S. republic must overcome human nature to fly. While ‘airborne,’ it functions much like a monarchy or oligarchy – the pilots have 100% control – or at least that is our perception. Many times, we perceive that we are completely at the mercy of the pilot’s control – turning the plane Left or Right – and one side of the plane or the other would say in the wrong direction. We wrongly conclude this is the same thing as the government crashing.

In fact, fixing (or keeping) the structural integrity of the government is more important than turning the aircraft Left or Right. This is a radical concept and will require a major paradigm shift on the part of the American governed to achieve stability.

Truly, the structure of our U.S. republic is quite unique. The architects separated the powers and the controls within the structure. These structural designs were made to prevent any one natural born person from single-handedly controlling the entire system. Thomas Jefferson said, “The way to have safe and good government is not to trust it to one…[but] by dividing and sub-dividing these republics from the great national one…”

The federal government is separated from the State government – each has separate jurisdictions and constitutions. And within States, further sub-divisions are made in counties, cities or towns and the like. You probably already knew that federal and State legislative, executive and judicial powers were separated. But did you know that County and City powers are as well?

Within each compartment of power, the ‘cockpit’ controls were also separated. Do you often find yourself saying that the governor of your State has all the Executive power? This is not the case! For example, Washington and California separate the control of executive power into more than 8 executives.

While State governors may control a majority of executive power, they do not control one hundred percent of it! The same holds true at the County level. Most will say the County board/council (i.e. commissioners, supervisors or freeholders) control executive power. In fact, it is the Sheriff, the Assessor, the Treasurer, the Clerk, etc. who control executive power. The County board controls legislative power.

These separations are described in the federal, state, county, and city constitutions or charters (or in some cases, state law). The maintenance of those separations is solely and exclusively in the hands of the governed. We must learn these fixed boundaries in their written form. It is vitally important to visualize the structure and make a habit of maintaining its boundaries, especially in our language.

Troubleshooting the system requires an understanding of when the governments, powers, and controls are being combined or separated – not just when an issue or a government official’s actions affects or hurts us. For example, Regional government was added early in the 20th Century to combine governments, powers and controls, while re-training local governors to administer and enforce federal policies and finances. It was not added for the governed. Regional government was added by the governors, of the governors, and for the governors.

In another example, School government was added to the Federal framework in the late 19th Century to dis-associate the governed from their maintenance responsibilities. As a by-product, the governed are re-trained to function as if living in a democracy. Left/Right passengers in economy class fight over the peanuts (issues) and periodically enter the cockpit for five minutes to select a pilot (vote).

It is important to remember that electing a pilot to turn the plane Left or Right is not the same activity as fixing or maintaining the aircraft of the U.S. republic. Rest assured, structural integrity is more important than selecting a Left/Right pilot or even getting our so-called 'peanut' rights from the flight crew.

The time has come for the governed to recognize our maintenance responsibilities as a legitimate and essential social activity - an activity deserving our utmost attention to detail. First, we must learn the U.S. republican structure. Then, recruit a local maintenance crew to troubleshoot it. And finally, with our crew, fix it.

Ben Franklin’s instruction to Mrs. Powel is still essential today. We have been given a Republic – and we are entrusted to keep it!

Mark Herr, Co-founder and President of Center for Self Governance, was born in England to a military father and was raised in South Korea. He is a retired Air Force veteran who served his entire career in Tokyo, Japan.  Herr holds a BS in marketing & management and a MBA in finance & information systems.  As a social and political scientist, Mark devotes 289 days per year, nationwide, to studying and teaching State Constitution, Regional government, City-County government, training citizens and legislators in applied civics, and teaching high school students foundational civics. He is co-authoring the book "Speaking the Language of Liberty”.

The Language of Liberty series is a collaborative effort of the Center for Self Governance (CSG) Administrative Team.  The authors include administrative staff, selected students, and guest columnists. The views expressed by the authors are their own and may not reflect the views of CSG.  Contact them at To learn more, go to

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