In a republic, political and economic elements are embedded within a society to serve the betterment of the individual, not the converse. At its birth, the Founders framed America as a democratic republic, not just a democracy, and small-r republicanism places the individual – living within society – to the foreground.
One of the meta-ideals of small-r republicanism is not downsizing, but rather decentralization: The decentralization of political and economic institutions in a modern, complex society, reformed at a human and local scale, and positioned to better serve the individual and society. This decentralization makes citizen engagement with political and economic institutions easier and conversely, expects citizens to engage for their own self interests in better governance and responsive economic activity.
The American form of small-r republicanism:
a) declares all humanity as created equal, in that all possess the same divinely-given or naturally-imbued rights, natural in that no external body bestows these liberties on individuals, thus they cannot be arbitrarily revoked;
b) establishes these natural rights as individual liberties, liberties that need citizens to voluntarily uphold through social and civic responsibilities, otherwise liberties without responsibilities degenerate into license, which tears asunder the fabric of society;
c) defines sovereign power as resting in the people, since it is the people who possess natural rights and liberties, with the people bestowing limited powers to local, state, and national governments so that government can ensure the good of society;
d) realizes that government does not always provide for the good of society, thus establishes not merely a vote, but the need for citizen engagement within the political process to ensure political and economic powers do not tyrannize individual liberties nor corrupt governance, hence the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution;
e) positions most governance near the people, which enables civic engagement and does not isolate government in a remote, opaque, centralized institution with increasing arbitrary powers;
f) upholds private property which, when held without debt encumbrances, ensures a citizen’s independence;
g) supports the presence of decentralized free markets with numerous independent proprietors, so that large monopolies or oligarchies operating in corporate- and/or government-controlled centralized markets do not threaten liberties;
h) regulates society by the rule of law, wherein fixed rules provide guidance to citizens, thus assuring no assertion of arbitrary powers nor lawmakers existing above the law; and
i) values a society where citizens can secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with contentment, preferable to a hyper-competitive, distraught, over-stretched empire that is globally despised.
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