Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Republics and Commonwealths

This will be, I hope, the spot to debate the meaning of the old Latin term "republic" and its English cognate, "commonwealth." The United States of America seems to have been founded as a republican federation of republics, but over time our presidents and their appointees have demonstrated a growing distaste for the limitations placed on them by this ancient system.

A republic, in my view, is a state ruled by more than one person---a state without a king.

Try http://dhm.best.vwh.net/archives/wre-republics.html for a lengthy historical definition

A "unitary executive," if it goes on from enforcing law to thinking it can make law, is un-republican. With some help from Shakespeare, we might call the current executive branch a nest of "caterpillars of the commonwealth."

The philosophy emerging from the executive branch finds its fullest expression in the works of Professor John Yoo, now at Boalt Hall law school, and might be summed up as:

"Power to the presidency; all power to the presidency in wartime; in all times, all power to define, declare, make, and end war to the presidency; war without end; Amen."

Let me know if and how I might have gone wrong in this judgment.

-WR Everdell