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David Rockwood, in his op-ed "'Democracy' is the umbrella term for our government," took the Utah Legislature to task for passing House Bill 220, which mandates that the term "compound republic" be used in public schools to define our system of government. He referred to it as a "garbage term that does not exist in the academic discourse on goverment."

Rockwood's July 2 op-ed in the Opinion section underscores the need for HB220.

You see, the term "compound republic" was not created by the Utah Legislature. Rather, it is the specific term that James Madison used to describe the unprecedented form of government the Founders created to unleash the laws of liberty, the principles of prosperity and the pillars of peace.

The Federalist Papers are among the definitive, original sources for constitutional interpretation. In Federalist 51, Madison (credited with writing the Constitution) explains:

"In a single republic, all the power surrendered by the people is submitted to the administration of a single government; and the usurpations are guarded against by a division of the government into distinct and separate departments. In the compound republic of America, the power surrendered by the people is first divided between two distinct governments ... . Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people. The different governments will control each other."

Similar sentiments are expressed in Federalist Nos. 10, 28, 45, 46, and 85, the state ratifying conventions, and by most prominent Founders.

Former Utah Supreme Court Justice Dallin H. Oaks stated that "This division of sovereignty was unprecedented in theory or practice. ... This principle of limited national powers, with all residuary powers reserved to the people or to the state and local governments, which are most responsive to the people, is one of the great fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution."

John Dickinson, whose words were endorsed by George Washington, warned "it will be their own FAULTS, if the several states suffer the federal sovereignty to interfere in the things of their respective jurisdictions."

But, what of democracy? Of the many Founders' quotes that could be cited, Alexander Hamilton stated, "We are a Republic. Real liberty is never found in the despotism or in the extremes of Democracy."

As demonstrated by Rockwood, few people today can explain why we are a republic and not a democracy. My personal experience in classrooms, with administrators, and speaking nationally on the subject, confirms that, as a people, we do not generally teach or understand the genius of our system anymore.

This is not merely a distinction without a difference. How can we unleash the power of a system we do not understand? Understanding the true nature of our compound republic empowers individuals, families, communities and states to meaningfully impact both local and national policy.

America faces daunting challenges on all fronts. Among the most dire is the federal government, now more than $14 trillion in debt and charging to future generations 43 cents of every dollar it spends. Not to be deterred by insolvency, the federal government continues to exert control over nearly every aspect of Americans' daily lives.

This expansion of power to Washington is the most enduring example of bipartisanship in our lifetimes. Washington will never solve the Washington problem. This is why the Founders designed our system with both internal (separation of powers) and external (compound republic) checks and balances.

The system is the solution!

Ken Ivory, a West Jordan Republican, represents District 47 in the Utah House of Representatives. He is co-founder and managing director of Where's the Line America Foundation.