America First—In Defense of Democracy

A lot of my friends in the America First movement seem suspicious of “democracy.”

They hear leftists and RINOs go on and on about “Our DemocracyTM,” as if it were something owned by these factions alone. Consequently, “we are a republic, not a democracy!” has become almost a catchphrase in our movement. I would like to push back against this impulse a bit, and argue that as a populist movement, we should not yield this term and concept to the Left, which seems to be on a mission to change the meaning of the word to reflect their twisted ideology.

The founders did create a constitutional republic, but it was also a representative democracy, with the power of government held by the citizens, and the dangers inherent in unfettered dugguemocracy restrained by a constitution and the individual rights it protects. I do agree that we are not currently a democracy of any sort. If we were actually a constitutional republic and a representative democracy, as the founders intended, things today would be quite different.

“Representative” is a key modifier in describing democracy as the founders intended. In a representative democracy, ordinary voters may cast a secret ballot, but the votes of representatives should never be secret, as their mandate requires their votes reflect the wishes of their constituents, and voting publicly enables accountability. 

 Although the Democrats like to pretend that they are democratic, the current object of leftist “elites” is the creation of an oligarchy of “experts” through a marriage of corporate and government power, which ironically is quite close to the actual definition of fascism. The leftists are terrified by actual democracy, as is seen in their ruthless suppression of populists on both the Right and the Left. They call this “liberal democracy,” in a desperate attempt to confuse the public, and expropriate the legitimacy conferred by actual democracy (which means rule by the people).

The leftist ideologues who control the Democratic Party have spent decades intentionally miseducating students and the public about the actual meaning of “constitutional republic” and “representative democracy.” Through shameless gaslighting and propaganda, they aim to rebrand their agenda as something positive for the public by defining it as “democratic,” and respectful of human rights. This is an old trick, pioneered by communists during the Cold War, when almost every authoritarian dictatorship (including Communist China and North Korea) labeled their regime “democratic.”

Of course, the leftists’ actual program is the establishment of an unchallengeable, elite-led, authoritarian government. It’s clear that the leadership of the Democratic Party, and some leaders of the Republican Party, no longer believe in the foundational pillars of our constitutional republic. Despite gaslighting and propaganda to the contrary, through their actions and statements they demonstrate daily that they no longer support majority rule or self-government; or rule of law and equal justice; or individual rights like freedom of speech and freedom of religion. 

So, my plea to the America First movement is that instead of rejecting “democracy,” we instead reject the leftists’ attempt to redefine the word and concept into something perverse and ugly. It is self-evident that without majority rule, we will have minority rule; and without self-government, we will be governed by others. That is not at all what our founders intended or wanted.

We, as populists, are the real democrats. We believe that all men are created equal, that every citizen should have equal influence in government, and that all are entitled to equal justice under the law. We should reclaim the word democracy, and re-educate the public on its real meaning, and then use it as a cudgel to beat the leftists, pointing out their hypocrisy, and their egregious violations of the founding principles of our constitutional republic.

About Tim Meisburger

Tim Meisburger, former Director of Democracy and Governance at the US Agency for International Development, has worked in international development since 1988. He currently advises Virginians for America First, the election integrity arm of Americans for Limited Government.

Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact

Support Free & Independent Journalism Your support helps protect our independence so that American Greatness can keep delivering top-quality, independent journalism that's free to everyone. Every contribution, however big or small, helps secure our future. If you can, please consider a recurring monthly donation.

Want news updates?

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.