A REPUBLIC OR A DEMOCRACY?
By Rep. Karey Hanks – District 35
How often does one hear our government referred to as a “democracy?” Is it a big deal?
Many people view a democracy as even more grassroots and bottom up than a republic. However, a democracy does not protect the interests of the minority, or smaller groups. “A democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.” (Franklin/Simkin)
How does the sheep feel about democracy in this case? The founders established a republic so that consent is filtered through representatives who can protect minority interests and avoid mob rule which inevitably arises in a pure democracy.
As we swear allegiance to our flag, “and to the Republic, for which it stands,” we are sustaining a system wherein citizens elect representatives who swear to uphold the Constitution. In addition, we keep in mind Thomas Jefferson’s inspired words to hold sacred each citizen’s right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” declared in the Declaration of Independence. A republic acknowledges God as the grantor of our basic rights, not a man or men. Why is this important to understand?
If a government grants rights, that same government can deny those rights. Our government was established from the bottom up, or grass roots, if you will, precisely so we as individuals may retain these basic rights. Local leaders would ideally handle local issues, such as zoning, business and schools, while the state would manage transportation (roads), some commerce/agriculture issues and lands. The federal government, in accordance with the Constitution and the 10th amendment, has limited and specific powers. If we better understood this concept, we would be more vocal and protective of our republican form of government.
Our Idaho Republican Platform also reinforces this idea:
“We believe that our Founding Fathers gave us a government that is a servant of the people, not our master and the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations.”
If we follow that one principle it simplifies which taxes and programs we will support or oppose.
GROCERY TAX REPEAL / VETO
Many people have weighed in on the benefits or disadvantages of the grocery tax. The 2017 legislators debated and voted overwhelmingly (House 51-19/Senate 25-10) to repeal it. Since then I have heard concerns over school funding. It doesn’t have to be an “either or” funding issue: education or tax relief. We began this year with a surplus of over $100 million; bills passed which appropriated 370 new employees and millions of dollars in new spending for many agencies and departments.
The real issue with the grocery tax repeal at this point is whether we uphold the Idaho Constitution Art. IV, section 10, which outlines the governor’s timeline to veto a bill. The Governor received the bill after the legislature had adjourned for the year.
On Tuesday, April 11, the Governor vetoed the bill, after the ten days allowed by the Idaho Constitution. The governor’s office is citing a 1978 Idaho Supreme Court case 3-2 decision which held that, in spite of the plain Constitutional language specifying ten days after legislative adjournment, the clock really starts when the Governor receives the bill. Using that decision, the Governor had until 12:05 pm Wednesday, April 12 to veto or the bill would become law. Under the Constitutional language, that deadline was Monday, April 10th at 12:05.
Thirty lawmakers have joined in filing a writ of mandamus, which is an order to the secretary of state to certify House bill 67a as law. The Idaho Supreme Court has upheld the Constitution in other cases, so we are optimistic the repeal will become law.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY
It is important to learn about our republican form of government. I use:
- The Proper Role of Government by Ezra Taft Benson, available online
- The 5000 Year Leap by Cleon Skousen
- The Making of America also by Cleon Skousen
- Idaho Legislature: bill center, audio/video of committees and sessions at legislature.idaho.gov