The public media stated "Residents packed the Gowanda Fire Hall to voice their opinions on a potential new use of a vacant building in the downtown area." The reference is to a public hearing regarding the former Burger King building on Jamestown Street in Gowanda. The public spoke, the elected representatives were present, and the press The OBSERVER reported the story along with photos. Also, other area municipalities and school districts conduct public meetings, hearings, and dialogues. This is the way things happen in a Republic.

The word republic, derived from the Latin res publica, or "public thing". We live in the United States and it is a Republic . Truly, American Exceptionalism at work! The word "democracy" does not appear anywhere in the Declaration of Independence or in our Constitution. In fact, the Constitution states "to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." And the pledge of allegiance to the flag does not state "the democracy for which it stands," but it does state "to the republic for which it stands." And all of us know so well the words to the "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," but we have never seen the words to "The Battle Hymn of the Democracy." Why do we make this distinction? The reasons are significant and they speak to the greatness of our Republic.

There are those who have the impression that our form of government is a democracy, or representative democracy. This is really not the case. The Founders were knowledgeable about the issue of democracy and feared a democracy as much as they feared a monarchy. They understood that the only entity that can take away the people's freedom is their own government, either by being too weak to protect them from external threats or by becoming too powerful and taking over every aspect of their life.

Our early Founders knew very well the meaning of the word "democracy", and the history of democracies; and they were deliberately doing everything in their power to prevent having a democracy. In a Republic, the sovereignty resides with the people themselves and they may act on their own or through their representatives whom they choose to represent their interests.

Clearly, there is a difference between republican and democratic forms of government. John Adams knew well the essence of the difference when he said, "you have rights antecedent to all earthly governments, rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; laws derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe." Nothing in our Constitution suggests that government is a grantor of rights. Instead, government is a protector of rights.

The Constitution of the United States put into practice the principle of the Declaration of Independence: that the people form their governments and grant to them only "just powers," limited powers, in order primarily to secure their God-given unalienable rights. The American philosophy and system of government thus bar equally the "snob rule" of a governing elite and the "mob-rule" of an Omnipotent Majority. This is designed, above all else, to preclude the existence in America of any government power capable of being misused so as to violate the Individual rights. Our early framers gave us a Constitution which contains coverage to protect the Republic. In their wisdom, the writers gave us the Electoral College so that in presidential elections, heavily populated states could not democratically run over the smaller, sparsely populated states. There was virtue in their wisdom.

Truly, we in our local communities, and all Americans for that matter, are indebted to our American forefathers for their brilliance in Constitutional content in protecting our freedoms. And these "rights" are clearly exemplified in our local public meetings, hearings, and in the public media. The founders intended and laid out the ground rules as a republic for our nation, and for our local communities. Clearly, we believe that all Americans have much for which to be proud, going all the way back to the founding of this great nation. The United States as a Republic, is indeed a tribute to American Exceptionalism.