Democracy and Equality – The Two Fatal Myths about America

ONE MAN’S OPINION--People call America a democracy; it is not. People say America is based on equality.

It is not. America is a republic based on the inalienable rights of Liberty, Life and the pursuit of happiness. Life and Liberty combine to provide the foundation for each individual to pursue happiness. 

The founding fathers saw both democracy and equality as evils to be avoided. Most people know that Benjamin Franklin replied, “A Republic if you can keep it” in response to “what kind of government the Continental Congress had fashioned?”  Few people realize that the founding fathers found both democracy and equality to be incompatible with liberty.  Thus, they rejected the notion of equality which quickly dissolves in group rights and internecine hostilities like the ones which are presently plague us. 

In the September 8, 2020 New Yorker article Is America a Myth?, Robin Wright wrote, “The idea of a revolutionary republic committed to equality (at the time, only for white men) started to erode as regional differences surfaced and the first generation of revolutionaries died out.”  Ms. Wright did Barack Obama in his 2020 convention speech one better in that she at least knew we were a republic and not a democracy but she was 100% wrong when she said the republic was “committed to equality.” 

Equality is not an inalienable right set forth in the Declaration of Independence where the triad is Life, Liberty and Pursuit of happiness. Liberty and equality are incompatible. The US Constitution’s preamble states that one of its purposes is to secure the “blessing of liberty” with no mention of equality.  The constitution did not use the word “equality.”  In 1832, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about the blessings of liberty and the evils of equality.  De Tocqueville warned that the people’s passion for equality was a constant threat. Its lures were easily seen and its dangers hard to perceive, while the arduous nature of Liberty was easily evident, but its blessings were a long time in coming.  Long story short, Equality leads to two evils: (1) Group Rights (2) Slavery, where everyone is equal under a totalitarian government.  

The immediate danger which we face in 2020 is Group Rights. On the right end of the political spectrum, we have the White Supremacists who tend to be organized into violent militias.  On the left end, we have the proponents of Slavery Reparations based on the notion that all people with a light skin hue owe money to people of a darker skin hue.  This theory is set forth in the Doctrine of White Entitlement (aka Privilege) which was the invention of old white woman.  One need not be a right wing racist to see the bigoted nonsense in the claim that all Whites should pay Slavery Reparations to all Blacks. 

While some white people revel in their sense of guilt for wrongs in which they played no role, millions of whites reject White Guilt seeing the world as far more complex than simply Black v White, Slave v Free.  They see the struggles of their ancestors who played no role in slavery and who were not even on this continent when America had slaves or wiped out much of the Native American population. 

E Pluribus Unum - Ameria’s Orginal Motto 

America’s first motto was E Pluribus Unum, From Many One. It recognized that peoples from a huge variety of backgrounds come to this land and together they formed one people.  The idea of depriving any man his inalienable rights of life and liberty to pursuit happiness was alien to America and was the basis of the 1960's Civil Rights Movement.  The right-wing bigotry that Blacks were inferior was no match to the individual inalienable rights of each person regardless of color. The majority’s logic was: “If the Black person is so inherently inferior, then there is no need to deprive Blacks of the freedom to create a good life.” 

President Johnson’s Great Society programs began with the idea that America’s “opportunity structure” had to be open to everyone which mean no throwing stumbling blocks in front of another. It began as an effort to resurrect E Pluribus Unum – From many different backgrounds, we would form one nation. 

America never had the chance to extend to Blacks or other minorities their individual inalienable rights.  While Affirmative Action could have been designed to protect individual rights, it was subverted into Group Rights where people’s rights were based on the group to which they belonged.  It quickly deteriorated into a quota system which mandated that a certain number of Blacks be hired and promoted. It was also based on a liberal racism that Blacks were inherently inferior. The liberal belief was that if Blacks individual rights were protected, they still would fail – that is as racist motion as any White Supremacist set forth. 

The notion of Equality carries with it a more pernicious impact on society.  Contrary to E pluribus Unum where everyone becomes a member of the whole, Equality is inherently divisive.  A ton of feathers is equal in weight to a ton of bricks, but feathers are not bricks.  An equal sign carries with it the innate concept that A = B, but A is not B. That was the un-American message of Brown vs Board of Education 347 U.S. 483 (1954).  Blacks had to be treated equal to White Americans, but the Supreme Court denied to Blacks the inalienable right of Liberty.  The Brown Court reached back to the Lincoln Douglas debates and adopted the notion of Senator  Stephen Douglas that the Declaration’s inalienable rights applied only the White and not to Blacks. 

If the Supreme Court justices had accorded Blacks Liberty, the quintessential American inalienable right, the Brown Decision would have been short. 

“Any law that forbids a child from attending the school to which he would go but for his race, deprives that child of Liberty. No deprivation of liberty (or life or property) based upon a person's race can ever be "with due process." Therefore, racial segregation is per se unconstitutional as an impermissible deprivation of Liberty.” 

Such a ruling in 1954 would not have been novel. That is exactly what Justice Harlan advocated in his dissent in Plessy v Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).  The Brown Court intentionally ignored Justice Harlan’s argument that segregation violated the inalienable and constitutional right of liberty and thereby the Brown Decision implied that Blacks were not as American as Whites  – a perniciously racist notion for which there can be no justification! 

Yet, today the Dems insist on keeping an equal sign between Whites and Blacks signaling, “We may have to treat Blacks as equal, but they are part of us.”  It is the subconscious message which tells the police and courts that they may abuse and murder Blacks. The racist notion of Group Rights, where Blacks must be treated as if they were as American as whites, underlies all the systemic racism which plagues America. 

Had America stuck with E Pluribus Unum, there would be no Black White divide. Dems and GOP could not pit the White Blue-collar workers against the Blacks or against the Mexican immigrants.  If America still saw itself as beginning with an infinite number of backgrounds and all us becoming one people based on our individual inalienable rights, we would not be facing another civil war.  As long as Blacks and Whites fight, the 1% prevails.


(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: Rickleeabrams@Gmail.com. Abrams’ views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.)