Utah report: More false “founders’ quotes” plague American discourse


Utah has a movement out to slander education and the Constitution, with a pointless claim that the Constitution cannot be called a “democracy,” damn Lincoln, Hamilton, Madison, Washington, both Roosevelts, and Reagan.

Sadly, it started in my old school district, the one where I got the last nine years of public school education, Alpine District, in the north end of Utah County.

They even have a website, Utah’s Republic. (No, Utah was never an independent republic before it was a state — it’s not like the Texas Republic wackoes, except in their wacko interpretations of law and history, where they are indistinguishable.)

At the blog from that site, there is a silly discussion on how a republic is a much superior form of government to a democracy.  Never mind that sheer numbers in our nation have always made democracy impossible (can’t get 150 million voters in one hall), or that distance makes it impossible to work (vote tomorrow in Washington, D.C.?  Everybody call the airlines, see if you can make it.)

So, I pointed out how a republic can also suggest tyranny.  And the response?  A flurry of “quotes from the founders.”

Can you vouch for any of these “quotes?”  Is any one of them accurate?

The Jefferson “mob rule” quote isn’t in any Jefferson data base that I can find. I find it also attributed to George Washington — but almost always without any citation, so you can’t check.

That maneuver is one of the key indicators of Bogus Quotes, the lack of any citation to make it difficult to track down.  All of these quotes come without citation:

As for a moral people, Washington said there could be no morality without religion and called it the “indispensable support,” not education. Obviously Jefferson and the Founders wanted education of the constitution to take place but we are very far removed from it in our education system.

Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide. – John Adams

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine. – Thomas Jefferson

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. – Thomas Jefferson

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. – Benjamin Franklin

Democracy is the most vile form of government… 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. – James Madison

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. – Abraham Lincoln

The last one is probably accurate, but irrelevant to this discussion (nice red herring, there, Oak).  Can you offer links to verify any of them?

Is this what I suspect?  The “Utah Republic” drive is not only a tempest in a teapot (though perhaps caused by other more serious maladies), but also a tempest based on false readings of history?

The website for “Utah Republic” is maintained by a guy named Oak Norton, who is obviously in thrall to the voodoo histories of David Barton and Cleon Skousen (I think Barton stole a lot of his voodoo history from Skousen, but that’s another topic for another day).

Funny:  Nowhere do these guys discuss one of the greatest drivers of the republic, over more egalitarian and more democratic forms of government.  Remember, Hamilton preferred to have an aristocracy, an elite-by-birth group, who would rule over the peasants.  He didn’t trust the peasants, the people who he saw as largely uneducated, to make critical decisions like, who should be president.  Norton doesn’t trust the peasants to get it right, and so he wants to dictate to them what they are supposed to know, in Nortonland.

Just because Oak Norton slept through high school history and government is no reason to shut down Utah’s Alpine School District or any other school; he’s not offered much evidence that everyone else missed that day in class, nor evidence that it has any significant effect.

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28 Responses to Utah report: More false “founders’ quotes” plague American discourse

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Mitch, take this one for example — the first quote you offer.

    You had it like this:

    [D]emocracies 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.2 James Madison

    But in Federalist 10, Madison defends a democratic republic; it’s “faction” that he rails against. The question put by the antifederalists was, in a democratically-elected republic, how can faction be tamed? Madison answered at great length, pointing out that faction will always occur — but that getting rid of democratic institutions to prevent faction is silly as getting rid of air to prevent fires. In the passage you cite, he’s not talking about democratic institutions generally. He’s talking about a pure democracy. Here, read what Madison actually wrote:

    From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such 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.

    Now, excuse me, but you’ve wrung the life out of that statement you attribute to Madison. He’s not railing against democracies.

    Let’s look at the editing you endorse; this is the entire paragraph, and the words you cite are those that are underlined:

    From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such 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.

    When Madison says “such democracies,” he’s referring to pure democracy, a form he says can’t work in the U.S. simply because it can’t rule over three million people in far-flung locations.

    In particular, I wonder if in the light of the Tea Party’s anti-government, anarchic and racist exponents trumpeted in many places around the nation, Madison could be said to be correct when he said such things as strife and faction would not happen in a democratic republic:

    The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source. A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State.

    He’s saying that we don’t need the Tea Party at all, that such things as the Tea Party fears, and such reactions as the Tea Party’s, cannot survive and get traction under the government formed by the Constitution.

    Do you believe that? Do you believe there is no need for Oak’s movement in Utah, nor any other Tea Party actions?

    Please also refer to our earlier discussion of these “quotes” in this thread.

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  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Mitch, you cite Wallbuilders, which is David Barton’s quote manufacturing facility. I don’t trust those as being accurate quotes from the founders.

    Tellingly, you offer no citations to the works of Madison nor anyone else quoted.

    Have you checked to see whether those men said those things? Would you stake your Scout Star rank on their being accurate quotes?

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  3. mitch says:

    Ed darrell, listen to what some of our founders have said about a democracy, but im sure they’re not sane political philosiphers right?

    [D]emocracies 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.2 James Madison

    Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.3 John Adams

    A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption and carry desolation in their way.4 The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness [excessive license] which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty.5 Fisher Ames, Author of the House Language for the First Amendment

    We have seen the tumult of democracy terminate . . . as [it has] everywhere terminated, in despotism. . . . Democracy! savage and wild. Thou who wouldst bring down the virtuous and wise to thy level of folly and guilt.6 Gouverneur Morris, Signer and Penman of the Constitution

    [T]he experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived.7 John Quincy Adams

    A simple democracy . . . is one of the greatest of evils.8 Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration

    In democracy . . . there are commonly tumults and disorders. . . . Therefore a pure democracy is generally a very bad government. It is often the most tyrannical government on earth.9 Noah Webster

    Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state, it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage.10 John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration

    It may generally be remarked that the more a government resembles a pure democracy the more they abound with disorder and confusion.11 Zephaniah Swift, Author of America’s First Legal Text.

    All quotes are from david barton’s wall builders. here is the link(it has all of the citations so you won’t have to write an article about my bad quoting of the founders)

    http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=111

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  4. Ed Darrell says:

    also, my finger hurts from scrolling thru all of you guys whining about how LITTLE an issue this is, so please stop beating a dead horse, Im sure oak got the point.

    Lying to children in school, as part of the curriculum, is not a small issue. Think about Japanese textbooks that ignore Pearl Harbor and the Rape of Nanking. Think about textbooks in Germany that ignore the Holocaust.

    The story of America, the story of America’s path to democratic institutions and the drive to increase them to make our country more egalitarian and therefore more prosperous and moral, is one that shouldn’t be hidden, even in Alpine District. Oak would be ashamed of his claims, if he knew and understood history.

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  5. Ed Darrell says:

    democracy is the PATH to socialism.

    That’s a keeper, that quote. It is in direct contradiction with Winston Churchill, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and every sane political philosopher who ever lived.

    Democracy is the path to socialism, and north is the path to south.

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  6. mitch says:

    when you look at a republic and a democracy, there is not much difference, but, the differences are very important. when you want to transform a system you can’t just do it over night. you have to gradually nudge it into the direction you want. democracy is the PATH to socialism. all oak is trying to do is keep us off that path to socialism. i’m sure that every one at alpine school district don’t want socialism, but they haven’t learned that a democracy can very well lead to socialism. He is just trying to educate the populous about the problem.

    also, my finger hurts from scrolling thru all of you guys whining about how LITTLE an issue this is, so please stop beating a dead horse, Im sure oak got the point.

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  7. The Glenn Beck Review says:

    I like this post. I have an expose of Skousen on home page all weekend that you might enjoy. You know that he was a racist?

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  8. Nick K says:

    Oak even if those quotes were genuine and they’re apparently not…what do you think you’re proving?

    You seem to be equating democracy with socialism. If you knew anything about either you’d know that they’re not the same thing.

    And you seem to have gotten so paranoid about “socialism” that you’re willing to accuse people of trying to “brainwash” our kids into socialists without one shred of evidence that that is what they’re trying to do.

    If Hitler said one thing and you said something that used some of the same words that Hitler used does that make you a Nazi?

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  9. sbh says:

    I took a brief look at Oak Norton’s attempt to justify his use of the collection of fake quotations, and it’s not impressive. Apparently he’s an easy grader when examining his own work. He gives himself full credit for the pseudo-Adams and pseudo-Madison quotations, neither of which is accurately quoted, nor a fair representation of what the man actually wrote. (The fake Adams quotation I’ve seen before, and I believe I can partly explain how it got into its present mangled condition; the fake Madison–about democracy being the most vile form of government–is new to me.) He apparently is willing to give himself partial credit for one of the pseudo-Jefferson quotations, because the people at the Monticello site came up with something that Jefferson wrote that vaguely resembles the “John Galt” fake that Oak Norton quoted. The resemblance is superficial, however; in the genuine quotation Jefferson is writing about the unfair effects that certain forms of taxation have on different groups of people, and makes no reference to democracy at all. (Both the pseudo-Jefferson quotations are well-known fakes, and recent concoctions to boot–the one going back to 1986 and the other possibly to 1989.) I don’t understand his attempt to justify the other Jefferson quotation; he gives a communication from somebody who apparently was his source for the item, but she says nothing to the point. If he had anything to say about the Bovard misquotation he attributed to Franklin, I missed it.

    As far as the source he says he relied on goes, if she’s really responsible for the pseudo-Adams quotation–and I want to stress that I am not making that charge, which is a serious charge to level against anybody–but if she’s really responsible for it, she’s no scholar, no historian, and not competent to speak on these issues. That cobbled-together piece of fakery did not come from anything remotely reliable–IMNSHO anyway.

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  10. Nick K says:

    Oak, you can reply to things said on this blog on this blog.

    I have about as much interest dealing with “teabaggers” as I do with blowing my head off.

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  11. Nick K says:

    Oak..get this through your head: a Republic is a type of democracy. So what do you think you’re complaining about?

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  12. Ed Darrell says:

    Oak, your source has seriously misrepresented statements from some of the greatest men in our nation. I don’t trust her.

    Moreover, we already have from sbh a summary of her many errors.

    It’s simply inexcusable. You’re trying to pawn off voodoo history in order to make voodoo law.

    And shame on you. I grew up in Alpine School District, educated by some of the best teachers on Earth (yes, I am qualified to judge). They work for too little money, because they love the area, and especially they love the kids. Those teachers could teach you a lot.

    Your petition is a knife in the back of those teachers, and were you gallant and honest, you’d retract it.

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  13. Nick K says:

    Oak rather reminds me of a person who was objecting to all the growth going on in my town in the late 90′s and early 2000′s. My town went from 5,000 people in 1990 to 20,000 currently. So the growth created some..agnst. Among other things she said was that the people moving into town were of “low moral character.” So she stomped about and made other baseless allegations. And she particularly objected to a residential development that was being planned for across from her family’s farm. Now her family didn’t own the land and the development wasn’t going to touch any of her family’s land. But that didn’t stop her from going on a tear. So she went to the city council meeting and tried to get it stopped. The mayor of my town tried explaining to her that as the proposed development met all of the rules and regulations that the city, county and state had laid out that the city had no grounds to object to the development.

    So the next words out of her mouth were that obviously that the city council must be on the take and taking bribes from the developers. Her reasoning? That since the council didn’t go along with what she wanted that was the only possible reason why.

    Oak is like that. Oak is seeing conspiracies not because there are conspiracies..but because that, in his mind, is the only explanation possible for why something is being done that he doesn’t like.

    Kind of like how the birthers who so object to a black man being president they’ve conjured up this delusion that he was born in Kenya.

    Oak, unless you have actual evidence that there is some “socialist conspiracy” going on do yourself a favor and shut the hell up. Quit pretending that you’re Miss Cleo.

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  14. sbh says:

    I see some of this has already been covered in the comments, but as I’ve been tracking fake quotations, here are my observations. For what they’re worth.

    The “indispensable supports” reference is to this passage in Washington’s farewell address:

    “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are the indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens.”

    The Adams “quotation” is cobbled together from passages in his letters on government in reply to John Taylor (1851 edition of the Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States):

    “I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either.” (p. 483)

    “You say, I ‘might have exhibited millions of plebeians sacrificed to the pride, folly, and ambition of monarchy and aristocracy.’ This is very true. And I might have exhibited as many millions of plebeians sacrificed by the pride, folly, and ambition of their fellow-plebeians and their own, in proportion to the extent and duration of their power. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never.” (p.484)

    The two Jefferson “quotations” are both modern and spurious–see http://wiki.monticello.org/mediawiki/index.php/Democracy_is_nothing_more_than_mob_rule for the one and http://wiki.monticello.org/mediawiki/index.php/The_democracy_will_cease_to_exist for the other.

    The Franklin “quotation” is adapted from something written by James Bovard (“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner”) in his 1994 book Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty. It has no connection with Franklin.

    The Madison (as I see has already been noted) is taken from The Federalist X; the first sentence is not Madison’s, however.

    Sorry for belaboring the obvious, but I find running down the fakes a tedious business; for every one of the hydra’s heads that gets cut off, two more spring up in its place.

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  15. Ed Darrell says:

    Nice catch, Ms. Sherman!

    I wonder whether, and how, Ezra Stiles Ely is related to Ezra Stiles. Any clue?

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  16. This is off-topic, but I’ve been searching for this quote for a long while. It’s from http://wiki.monticello.org/mediawiki/index.php/Jefferson%27s_Religious_Beliefs

    Thomas Jefferson recognized the novelty of his own religious beliefs. On June 25, 1819, he wrote to Ezra Stiles Ely, “I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.”

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  17. Nick K says:

    Oak, what country is this:
    Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

    And what country is this:
    Republic of Korea

    My God, better stop using the word “Republic” because that’s a word that North Korea has in its official name. And North Korea is…..*gasp* socialist.

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  18. the definition of “democracy” at http://www.dictionary.com is this:

    government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

    Exactly. Aside from in the rantings of a few pedants, in the modern idiom, it’s a distinction without difference. Anyone who is at all educated understands that the original meaning of “democracy” was the large gathering, direct-vote system of male enfranchisement practised in Ancient Greese; anyone with a white of a sense understands that the term has evolved, with time and social change, to mean something more analogous to what Oak and the like chatter on about when they’re discussing republics. The meaning of republic is not universal, either; in much of the world, it means simply a country not headed by a king and does not per se imply anything about the local political system beyond that.

    To insist on these narrow, outdated descriptions of republics and democracies is ultimately parochial or disingenuous.

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  19. Nick K says:

    And yet the definition of “democracy” at http://www.dictionary.com is this:

    government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

    Oh look..no conflict.

    And you can’t think of another word in the english language where such a “conflict” exists? I can. Took me all of 5 seconds.

    It’s the word “theory.” Specifically the conflict between the layman’s definition of the word and the definition of the word that science uses.

    The United States is a republic yes. But a republic, Oak, is…wait for it..a type of representative democracy. So ergo the United States is also a democracy. It’s just not a pure one. Now surely since I as a public school graduate can understand you can understand it as well?

    So what exactly are you whining about again? That your school is pushing socialism? Really? Been mind reading again have you? Oh and by the way..they didn’t use the term “social democracy.” In case you missed the motto..there’s a couple words between the word “social” and the word “democracy” that you’re rather ignoring.

    By the way..this is the definition of “democracy” at merriam-webster.com:

    1 a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

    The conflict exists only in your mind, Oak. The threat of socialism exists only in your mind, Oak. Because if you think there’s a threat of socialism going on then you really do need to learn the difference between Keynsian capitalism and socialism.

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  20. Nick K says:

    Oh and by the way, Oak, the next time you make a blanket attack on public schools in front of me…well lets just say…do watch your tongue better.

    Because it’s so easy to sit there and criticize the public schools…but its much harder to get off your ass and actually do something to help.

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  21. Nick K says:

    No the question really is, Oak, it took me all of 5 minutes to find the quote as it really is.

    Why didn’t you spend that time?

    And tell me..what belief system did C.H. Lewis belong to?

    Your side of the political fence, Oak, has stretched the definition of the word “socialism” beyond any actual honest meaning of the term.

    I’m willing to bet, Oak, that if I quoted the Catholic Social Teachings here but removed any means to identify it as Christian you’d scream your head off like chicken little crying “socialism.”

    No, Washington wasn’t religious. He was like Franklin, Adams, Jefferson and Madison..a deist.

    And really? Christianity doesn’t teach persecution? Tell me..where have you been for the history class covering the last 2000 years? Hell..where were you when they were teaching about the Holocaust? Going to claim that the persecution that homosexuals go through in this country doesn’t have anything to do with Christianity? The point being that people wouldn’t use, as you say, all sorts of excuses for bad behavior including religion, if religion didn’t give them ample ammunition to do so with. Oh and I say that as a lifelong Catholic…i.e. Christian. I’d far prefer it if my fellow Christians..you included…would quit pretending that saving Christianity’s face is better then admitting the truth that at times Christianity failed.

    Hitler used Christianity to justify what he did. No matter what any claim of “He used it as an excuse” says…the fact still remains that for the better part of 2000 years Christianity persecuted and taught hatred of the Jews. Hitler’s anti-semitism didn’t “poof” appear out of thin air. Last time I checked we Christians were supposed to value the truth..even if it admit acknowledging things we don’t like. So a little less cop out on your part would be a good idea.

    As for my quoting the Wisconsin Supreme Court oh that was merely me taking a swipe at a particular religious denomination that has way too much political power in your state.

    You can claim that Christianity doesn’t teach persecution when it actually stops doing so. Considering what the Mormons did regarding gay marriage in California that claim of yours is DOA. Legislating a religious belief in a country where doing so is supposed to be unconstitutional…legislating a religious belief to deny a group of people rights that you yourself enjoy is by definition persecution.

    Personally I think you’re parsing words so you can create a controversy where there is none. And personally I think it’s because you and yours have bought hook line and sinker into the rampant paranoia that a certain political side I don’t belong to have been spouting. And all because they forgot that in a democracy…oops a republic..oops a democratic republic you sometimes lose.

    “My God, the socialists are coming!.”

    Despite the fact that the last thing going on in this country is oncoming socialism. It’s been my experience that people who are worried so about socialism have absolutely no idea what actual socialism is.

    And as for what you claim “social democracy” means..feel free to provide the evidence. And then you can prove that is actually what those teachers intend. Instead of you know..making blanket statements.

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  22. Rob Lopresti says:

    For what it’s worth, the Lincoln quote, while irrelevant, is apparently accurate. It was reported by Mrs. Lincoln, although not attributed to any particular speech or event. And it certainly sounds like him. (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 1953 ed. v 2, p 532.)

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  23. Ed Darrell says:

    From what you have written, you are unaware that there are teachers in our school district who are teaching their classes that we are NOT a republic at all, and that we are a democracy.

    I doubt that highly. I graduated from Pleasant Grove High School. I know teachers from all Alpine District schools and most of the schools in Utah County. With the possible exception of a coach thrust into a social studies class with little or no preparation, I doubt anyone would teach such a thing — to what end?

    It’s contrary to AP and IB course requirements, so if you have those advanced courses in the school, the truth would likely trickle into other courses.

    It’s not suggested in any textbook currently in use in the U.S.

    What is your evidence?

    Our school district has a sign hanging in their district office that says, “Enculturating the Young into a Social and Political Democracy.” A social democracy is defined as the transition from capitalism to socialism.

    Yeah, and your complaints against that are bogus. The campaign against that sign is typical Soviet-style propaganda. To claim any teacher in Alpine District as socialist is a slander of unconscionable proportion.

    You claim to have no nefarious agenda, and then you make sweeping slanders like that? And to support your slanders, you misquote the founders — oh, okay so long as you correct your errors later?

    Shame on you. Get your facts right first. You don’t have a serious clue what you’re arguing about, or why, and you hurl hurtful words as if they mean nothing to you (perhaps they don’t?).

    I want facts: Which schools, which teachers? What was the lesson, what was the point of the students’ complaints?

    And if the teachers did say that? So what? Who cares? Send them a dictionary. Buy them an AP U.S. History Teacher Edition. It’s not that the curriculum is in error. It’s not like you have a better idea, or a much more accurate one.

    Jefferson and Madison founded the Democratic Republican Party — the oldest and only continuously existing political party in the nation. What is it you have against democratic mechanisms and democratic trends in our republic? School boards and school classrooms should not be the battlegrounds for your vendettas.

    This sounds like a manufactured controversy to me. We’ve seen those in history, but almost never in the U.S. I can’t think of any occasion that a manufactured controversy was for good and noble ends. Can you?

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  24. Oak says:

    Ed, there is nothing nefarious going on as you’ve accused me of inserting the word “vile” into Madison’s quote. You could probably make a career (though it won’t pay well) of trying to clean up all the errant quotes on the internet attributed to individuals from all walks of life. I at least make corrections when they are pointed out to me and so people can know where I’ve slipped up. I don’t try to hide anything. The “vile” quote was originally from another source that appeared to be reputable. I will modify what it says on my page to reflect the actual quote.

    From what you have written, you are unaware that there are teachers in our school district who are teaching their classes that we are NOT a republic at all, and that we are a democracy. It’s not a matter of semantics to them at all, it’s an absolute. I personally know two people whose children corrected their teachers by telling them we were a Republic (not the same teacher or school) and the teacher told them they were wrong in front of the whole class. Our school district has a sign hanging in their district office that says, “Enculturating the Young into a Social and Political Democracy.” A social democracy is defined as the transition from capitalism to socialism. A political democracy is defined by the online Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as BOTH 1) rule of the people (true pure democracy), as well as 2) representational government (ie. Republic). Two conflicting definitions attributed to the same word. I’m unable to think of any other word where that is possible. Regardless, in our school district the motto is by definition a push to socialism which I reject and will continue to fight against.

    If you have never read the Screwtape Letters, they are a classic work by C.S. Lewis of letters from a head devil to his apprectice devil nephew. After publication of that book, Lewis wrote a satirical essay on the American public education system entited “Screwtape Proposes a Toast.” It’s excellent and I recommend it, but if you’d rather not read it in it’s entirety, here’s a quote from it that I believe has merit to the discussion.
    http://screwtapeblogs.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/screwtape-proposes-a-toast/

    Lewis: “Democracy is the word with which you must lead them by the nose…. [T]hey should never be allowed to give this word a clear and definable meaning. They won’t. It will never occur to them that democracy is properly the name of a political system, even a system of voting, and that this has only the most remote and tenuous connection with what you are trying to sell them. Nor of course must they ever be allowed to raise Aristotle’s question: whether “democratic behaviour” means the behaviour that democracies like or the behaviour that will preserve a democracy. For if they did, it could hardly fail to occur to them that these need not be the same.”

    I have actually listened to a lecture series on the Federalist/Anti-Federalist papers and it was quite enjoyable. The AF’s had many valid points.

    The idea that I’ve pursued the petition on the website in some way to take merit from the Democratic party is hilarious. I could care less about the political parties names matching up with whatever form of government people call us.

    Nick K: I’m not sure what you’re talking about with regard to Washington. Do you mean my quote from Franklin? Washington was absolutely religious though he held himself aloof from specific denominations.

    As for the Wisconsin court in the 1890′s, what does that have to do with anything? Does Christianity teach persecution? No. People in all ages have used all sorts of excuses for bad behavior including religion.

    Oak

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  25. Ed Darrell says:

    Most good teachers note the difference between a republic and a true democracy in U.S. history, and especially in government and AP and IB government classes. It’s interesting, it sheds light on the development of governmental forms, it gives insights into history, and it’s easy to test.

    So what’s the burr under your saddle?

    I wouldn’t be concerned if the drive to incorporate “republic” came out of education workshops where it was established that emphasizing that point would improve education.

    But of course, it doesn’t. Instead, the movement comes from sharp critics of education, people who have sworn eternal opposition to every form of public education ever invented, from those who have never found a teacher they wouldn’t accuse of being socialist or communist, and others who with wits firmly locked in a vault, suddenly jump into education issues and other politics with bizarre litmus tests designed to see who knows the secret handshakes and code words of the group.

    If there’s a legitimate reason to change the standards as you propose, you haven’t stated it, and it completely escapes me.

    Here in Texas, those of us who point out it’s a minor issue get accused of being socialists and anti-Americans.

    You’re that type of guy, if had to judge by your website. You feature the hack works of W. Cleon Skousen, the scoundrel who accused Eisenhower of being a communist and who earned the justifiable ire of Utah’s most conservative-ever governor, J. Bracken Lee (who fired Skousen as SLC police chief). Skousen’s stuff was notoriously inaccurate then, and I’ll wager no one has cleaned it up. David Barton’s greatest sin may be stealing Skousen’s material for his own career in charlatanry.

    To wit: I don’t think Madison ever called democracy “vile,” but it certainly was not in Federalist #10. You have much of the rest of the quote right, but why would you append the first part, and try to put words in the mouth (rather, in the pen) of James Madison?

    Anyone who claims to speak better than James Madison by changing Madison’s words to words Madison did not speak, needs a lesson in being trustworthy, before I’ll heed their political calls.

    Here’s what Madison actually wrote, in greater length more appropriate to his more subtle and careful argument:

    The inference to which we are brought is, that the causes of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects.

    If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution. When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens. To secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our inquiries are directed. Let me add that it is the great desideratum by which this form of government can be rescued from the opprobrium under which it has so long labored, and be recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.

    By what means is this object attainable? Evidently by one of two only. Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time must be prevented, or the majority, having such coexistent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression. If the impulse and the opportunity be suffered to coincide, we well know that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control. They are not found to be such on the injustice and violence of individuals, and lose their efficacy in proportion to the number combined together, that is, in proportion as their efficacy becomes needful.

    From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such 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.

    Why not work hard for more AP and IB classes, and better classes in elementary and junior high schools so students will qualify for AP and IB classes, where they would discuss Federalist #10 in great detail? How much better to wrestle with Madison’s words and the exigency in which they were written (not to mention the rebuttal in the Antifederalist Papers, or a solid collection of antifederalist writings) than merely to substitute one unfathomed word, “republic,” for another unfathomed word,”democracy?”

    No, I think you real intent is to try to take merit from the Democratic Party (which I’ll wager you have forgotten was, originally, the Democratic-Republican Party – the party of Madison and Jefferson and Jackson themselves). That’s the intent of those who share your views here in Texas. I don’t see any indication that you are more noble, nor that you have better education or more information.

    Get the quotes right, first. Study what the founders actually wrote, what they actually said, and what the laws actually are, and then figure out whether your amendments to standards are worth the wind you’ve expended in demonizing teachers and other educators.

    I doubt it.

    Next thing you know, some incredible fool will complain about AP or IB classes as “socialist,” or “world citizen-like,” or “non-Utah.”

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  26. Nick K says:

    This is the quote in Federalist 10:

    From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such 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.

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed10.asp

    I would point out he’s talking about pure democracies.

    As for what your blog, Oak, said about Washington saying what you said he said about religion I find that humorous since not even the preacher of Martha Washington’s church could say whether or not Washington was a Christian or not. And it was under Washington that negotiations for the Treaty of Tripoli were handled. The one that says the government of the United States isn’t founded or based on Christianity.

    Personally I prefer what the Wisconsin Supreme Court said in the 1890′s. That being this: There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights. malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state, as religion. Let it once enter our civil affairs, our government would soon be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed.

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  27. Oak says:

    Ed, if you would read the petition at the site you would see the purpose of the site was to get the state to modify 5 standards to incorporate the word Republic back into the history standards. As for your comment yesterday I am researching the origin of the quotes. I can tell you Madison’s quote comes from Federalist #10. Adam’s quote comes from a letter letter to John Taylor, April 15, 1814.—The Works of John Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams, vol. 6, p. 484 (1851). As for the math related post, I could take it down but figured it’s given room for discussion so it’s no big deal to me. Someone offered up a viewpoint and I posted it as their view. I’m happy to let people comment on it and share alternate views just as your posts have all been made. Your view that I don’t trust the people to get it right is a huge misrepresentation of my actual views. I do trust the people when they actually examine an issue, but we have no time as citizens to do that so we elect representatives to do it for us.

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