Republic, not democracy

Posted: Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Michael Catsi is not the only person that has recently shown an understanding of governmental systems in the United States. The Constitution of the United States, as well as the Constitution of the State of Alaska, establishes a republican form of government; that is, a form of government where the populace is governed by reresentatives. We chose to refer to it as a democratic republic as the populace elects our representatives. This republican form of government was chosen by our Founding Fathers for a number of reasons, at least one of which is still valid. In the decision-making process for much of our governmental operations, the public is not privy to ALL of the information. In addition, decision-makers must take into account the long-term consequences for all of the people.

For instance, in all of the debates regarding the road vs. ferry issue between Skagway and Juneau, I have seen little public information regarding the relative costs to the statewide public of the two options. I had the privilege of developing a "quickie" Southeast Surface Transportation Plan as Special Projects Engineer for Commissioner Bruce Campbell. One glaring statistic became obvious during the research for that report. The cost of ferry operations and maintenance far exceeds the cost of road maintenance! Considering the fact that the entire state pays the cost of operations and maintenance for either a road or a ferry, the entire state has a stake in the decisions. And most of the state's residents want maintenance and operating costs as low as possible!

In a democratic republic, the people have a right to be heard! No question! The decision-makers have a strict obligation to hear and consider the opinions of the public. However, it is the legal, moral and ethical obligation of decision-makers to make the final decisions, even if those decisions are unpopular with some of the public voice!

Roger Allington

Bellevue, Wash.

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