Utah’s Republic

What is a Republic? Aren’t we a Democracy?

“The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind.” -Thomas Jefferson, 1790

Utah…a pretty great state. It’s a place where many believe that God raised up the Founders of our nation to give us an inspired Constitution to protect the freedom and rights of all people.

However, society today has become so used to identifying with the “democratic” process, that many people now believe our form of government is a Democracy. We are losing a vital piece of our national identity and by virtue of that, losing the most fundamental aspects of protecting our natural rights by no longer teaching our children what a Republic is, and what the Framers of the constitution meant by giving us republican government.

In Article 4, section 4 of the U.S. Constitution we read:

“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government…

What is a Republic? It is a government based on law and elected representatives that examine issues and vote on our behalf. Supreme power resides in the citizens to vote in their representatives. The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

What is a Democracy? A Democracy is a form of government where everyone gets a voice on every issue and it always ends in mob rule. A true Democracy only works on a small scale such as in a neighborhood where the issues are clear and very local. It is not reasonable to have every citizen vote on every issue, and where this has been practiced in the past, it always destroys the peace of the people.

The term “democracy” has been hijacked. Groups in every country have made “democracy” their rallying cry as they storm the steps of their capitols in places such as Egypt and Wisconsin. Bill Ayers, the godless Marxist terrorist, is all about “democracy in education” because he recognizes the ease of transforming a nation into a communist/socialist system through the classroom by making youth believe their voice must be heard on every issue. This leads to moral relativity and unrest. Democracy is not our form of government, it is a process and we need to change our language to reflect this.

Proper Republican Government

In the Utah constitution, the section devoted to characteristics of our public education system states in paragraph 5, that the “Legislature shall assist in maintaining a public education system that:

53A-1a-104. Characteristics of public education system.

(5) offers a world-class core curriculum that enables students to successfully compete in a global society, and to succeed as citizens of a constitutional republic;

Rep. Ken Ivory pointed out to me that James Madison said in Federalist Paper 51:

“In a single republic, all the power surrendered by the people is submitted to the administration of a single government; and the usurpations are guarded against by a division of the government into distinct and separate departments. In the compound republic of America, the power surrendered by the people is first divided between two distinct governments, and then the portion allotted to each subdivided among distinct and separate departments.”

In other words, we delegate some of our rights to 2 government units at odds with each other, and they each in turn enact checks and balances to help ensure they don’t abuse their own limited powers. This chart helps to illustrate the concept.

Compound Constitutional Republic

HB 220 which passed the Utah legislature in 2011 now requires that teachers teach our students that the American form of government is a compound constitutional republic. Special thanks to our legislators who helped make this happen!

The United States Constitution always trumps state government for the specific, limited, defined duties the U.S. Constitution was given, but beyond those limited functions, everything else was reserved to the states and the people. The Constitution does not give the federal government the power to do anything with education, medicine, welfare programs, etc… Those are “unconstitutional” and reserved to the states, or the people, because they are not enumerated in the federal powers. We are to be free, self-governing citizens, who delegate limited functions to government to handle for us.

Forms of Government

There are 5 basic forms of government we learn about in school, but in reality there are only 2.

Monarchy (Rule by 1) All of these forms of government turn into Oligarchies where a few leaders make the laws and determine the rights of the people.
Oligarchy (Rule by a few)
Democracy (Rule by many)
Republic (Rule by law) In a true Republic, leaders are not above the law.
Anarchy (Rule by no one) Anarchy always produces leaders, which then become an oligarchy.

For a greater understanding of why this is, this video does a great job of explaining it.

Noah Webster, one of our Founding Fathers, wrote his 1828 dictionary to ensure that terms used by the Framers in giving us the Constitution did not lose their meaning over time. These are the definitions he recorded for what a Democracy and Republic are.

Republic: “n. [L. respublica; res and publica; public affairs.] A commonwealth; a state in which the exercise of the sovereign power is lodged in representatives elected by the people. In modern usage, it differs from a democracy or democratic state, in which the people exercise the powers of sovereignty in person. Yet the democracies of Greece are often called republics.”

Democracy: “n. [Gr. People, and to possess, to govern.] Government by the people; a form of government, in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of the people collectively, or in which the people exercise the powers of legislation. Such was the government of Athens.”

Who in our time exercises the powers of legislation? The people, or our elected representatives? It is our elected representatives. This is the true meaning of the terms. We are a republic and not a democracy. Yet at the local neighborhood level, it is entirely appropriate that we function as a democracy because within our neighborhoods we should all be familiar with the things that are going on and need taken care of. It is as we move up the ladder of government function that Democracies utterly fail. I do not know what’s happening in your neighborhood. I do not have the time to understand everything happening in my city, state, and nation. That’s the genius of republics is that we elect others to spend the time to familiarize themselves with those areas of concern and dig into the issues. This is why it’s important that each stage of government not bite off more than it can chew or our representatives fail us. The U.S. Constitution necessarily limited the government to a well defined list of things they had power over and reserved everything else to the states, where they in turn divided up power between the state and the counties, cities, and townships.

Whereas America started out as a true Republic, much has been done to turn us into a Democracy. We previously had senators and presidents elected, not in a popular vote, but by our representatives who dug into the candidates and really got to know them. Today we have no ability to do this so campaigning for office is a race spending hundreds of millions of dollars to propagandize the public that a candidate is the right one for the job. We could largely eliminate special interests (and months wasted listening to political ads) if we returned to this Constitutional system. The U.S. constitution said that senators would be elected by state legislatures (ruined with the 17th amendment) and the president and VP would be elected by delegates selected from the states equal to their representation in the U.S. Congress. Those few hundred delegates would have dug into the candidate’s position with real questions and some quality time spent with the candidate and then voted on our behalf. That’s the essence of republican government.

Economic Systems

Various economic systems are used by governments. Governments that want to control their population use communism, socialism, fascism, and Nazism so they can tell the population what to do with their property (or what to do with the “government’s” property they are utilizing). These systems are hallmarks of totalitarian oligarchies which violate the natural rights of the people.

The capitalist or free market system allows people to choose what to do with their property as long as it is within the function of the rule of law. We cannot claim a right that allows us to violate someone else’s rights. A republic grounded in law, such as the American Republic, demonstrates this system.

There are, of course, nations masquerading as republics such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, The Republic of China, and the former USSR (United Soviet Socialist Republic – sort of an oxymoron). They seek to give the appearance of the rule of law, but they are all oligarchies ruled by a few individuals who violate the natural rights of their citizens and act above the law.

So how is Utah doing educating our citizens in the most critical aspect of our governmental foundation?

(Out of all the people we interviewed, only 1 was educated in Utah public schools that knew we have a Republic. )

Why are our citizens so misinformed?

“Enculturating the Young into a Social and Political Democracy.”

For years this district put this slogan on their official literature sent to the public and polluted the minds of thousands of teachers, tens of thousands of students, and hundreds of thousands of citizens who naturally assume that the local school district knows what they’re talking about. The sign in this video has thankfully been removed.

Why did they do this? Because they are tied into national organizations that have an agenda to destroy the moral values and freedoms we enjoy. (Link) Unfortunately, this district is not the minority. It’s just one of many in America not properly teaching these concepts to our children (I do excuse the valiant teachers who know these concepts and properly teach them – sometimes at personal risk. THANK YOU)

Big deal. Why does it matter that we teach we are a Republic?

“A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins.”
– Benjamin Franklin

The knowledge of the American form of government is vital. The British Prime Minister William Gladstone said of our constitution, it is “the most remarkable work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.” Nowhere in the annals of history has a form of government come together such as ours.

We can clearly see the erosion of our rights to life, liberty, and property over the past several decades as this notion that we are a Democracy has taken a more prominent place in our education system. Unless we make a hasty and direct return to the constitution, we risk losing it. The greatest document for governing man ever produced under the inspiration of heaven, is literally at risk of being washed away by enemies of freedom.

It is among the greatest disservice to our Founding Fathers that we have apostatized from the course of freedom they sacrificed to give us.

Please visit our education center on this site for additional information.  Only an educated populace can preserve freedom.

Oak Norton

P.S. An original purpose of this site was to effect a change in Utah’s history standards. That happened with passage of HB 220 in 2011.


Utah is now required to teach all students that we are a compound constitutional republic.

P.S.S. Here’s another good and short article on the difference in voting in a republic.