Many republics are democracies such as the Republic of India or the French Republic. But some democracies are not republics, such as the Kingdom of Sweden.
The Utah House of Representatives believes that ideally people should live in a republic which is not a democracy. This was made clear with the passage of HB220 by a overwhelming vote of 57-17. According to the U.S. State Department there is only one republic in this hemisphere which is not a democracy: the Republic of Cuba. Interestingly, that republic shares a number of similarities with Utah:
* Both are essentially one party states.
* Both places have leaders who disapprove of democracy.
* In both places the dominant party tries to indoctrinate the young, so as to perpetuate their ideology, with idiosyncratic ideas which are contrary to conventional wisdom. Utah's Legislature is attempting to prescribe a fixed, immutable and politically correct meaning to "republic," which historically has been used to describe many different species of government. Have HB220 supporters have ever read Plato's Republic or heard that our arch-enemy in the cold war was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? Because many political dictionaries consider almost any type of government which is not a monarchy to be a republic, for decades the U.S. CIA has described the Arab Republic of Egypt as a republic even though it was a dictatorship. Before we invaded the Republic of Iraq in 2003 the CIA considered it a republic even though its leader has gassed thousands of Iraqis. We certainly did not invade it to make it a republic; but it is claimed that we invaded to make it a democracy.
* In both places the dominant party tries to limit local control. Utah's Legislature is trying to arrogate to itself decisions that were previously made by local school boards.
* In both places the dominance of one party makes many people view voting in elections as a waste of time that can never make a difference. Utah has been and probably will be one of the most gerrymandered states and consequently has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the nation. Last fall, only about a third of Utahns bothered to vote.
* The governments of Utah and Cuba are the only two governments in this hemisphere to execute people by firing squad in recent decades.
* Both places have had leaders that did not drink coffee. This paper had an article "Castro kicks the cigar habit" (Dec. 25, 1985) that said he had given up "famed Havana cigars and coffee" because they are bad for health and he wanted to "set an example for the Cuban people."
* Both places excel in giving humanitarian aid. This paper had an article "Medical students reach Cuba" (April 5, 2001) that told how "A U.S. flag was flown and the American anthem was played" as Cuba welcomed Americans to attend "a free six-year program to become physicians." Castro had offered to give this free medical training to 500 Americans.
"Cuba also proposed sending its own doctors to poor areas of the U.S. as part of the program, but the State Department said the idea was rejected."
According to the CIA, in recent years Cuba has had better infant mortality statistics than the U.S. Cuba, a humanitarian superpower, has more doctors per capita than any other nation and has trained 40,000 doctors that provide service around the world. Of course, there are differences: Cuba does not have a state gun.
However trivial and facetious the above comparisons are viewed, it is undeniable that the leaders in both places deeply resent Washington D.C.'s efforts to limit their sovereignty and they show their resentment with Washington bashing. Leaders of both places blame it for their problems and attribute greedy and power hungry motives to it. I first noticed this in 1980 as a delegate at the Republican County Convention. At the time talk of a "sagebrush rebellion" was popular and many speakers bashed Washington. One argued, very passionately, that Utah had to keep its land "out of the repressive grip of Washington."
After, I felt like I had visited Havana. Recently Gov. Herbert said, "Utah is a state, not a colony." And Utah's legislators say Washington wants more "land grabs." Utah's leaders produce a lot of rhetoric that resembles that of Cuba's leaders.
When Cuban leaders make anti-Washington statements they are labeled "anti-American" even though their humanitarian work indicates they certainly do not hate the American people. If "anti-Washington" and "anti- American" are interchangeable semantic equivalents, then many of Utah's elected officials are anti-American. Perhaps Utah's Legislature can provide the politically correct definition of "anti-American." Let's hope it doesn't take as much time out of the legislative process as it did to replace the word "democracy" with the word "republic."
Jones lives in West Haven.