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Election Integrity News Blog


Are We a Republic or a Monarchy?

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

by Elizabeth Ayoub, MFE Director of Communications | July 17, 2023

The year was 1787, the last day of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. For the past four months the leaders of the 13 American colonies had wrangled over the basic principles and laws of a nation. On September 18 they had ratified a document that marked the birth of the United States of America, the “great experiment,”[1]Benjamin Franklin stepped outside for a breather, and a woman stood waiting with a question:“Have we got a republic or a monarchy?[2]” Mrs. Powel asked. Avalon Project - Papers of Dr. James McHenry on the Federal Convention of 1787 (

Today, almost 236 years after that late-summer conversation, citizens of this nation are asking the same question. Now, as then, people feel drawn to study the first few days of any transition for glimpses into what lies ahead.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a republic as “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.” A monarchy, it defines, is “undivided rule or absolute sovereignty by a single person.”

Few offices attract more attention than the U.S. Presidency, and the first ten days point like a weathervane toward directional winds.


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Trump vs. Biden presidencies

After taking an oath to “faithfully execute” the Office of President of the United States, former president Donald Trump signed seven executive orders (EO) within those first ten days. The preeminent executive of the country has the “power to carry laws into execution.”[3]

One order[4] was to “secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border” to prevent “illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism,” in order to “ensure the safety and territorial integrity of the United States.” Likewise, President Trump signed an order stating it was the policy of the executive branch to ensure that the immigration laws of the United States were followed against “all removable aliens.”[5] How was Trump able to order this? He carried laws that had been passed by the legislative branch. He was given the power by the laws.

In that same order[6] Trump suspended the issuance of visas to “nationals of countries of particular concern,” to make sure that people coming into this nation were not security or public-safety threats.

Given the power by the legislature to enforce existing laws, the new president on his tenth day in office signed an order that the cost of any new regulation passed by any agency “shall be no greater than zero,” and that for every new regulation passed, two existing regulations had to be repealed.[7]

Ten days after having taken the Presidential oath, Trump used his executive power to enforce and “carry into effect” existing laws, laws that were written to define and secure the USA’s border, to minimize public-safety threats, and to erase some agency regulations.

In stark contrast, on the day that he took his oath to “faithfully execute the Office of President,” President Joe Biden signed six executive orders:

1) To “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all,”[8]

2) To allow for all people in the United States (not just citizens) to be counted in the census,[9]

3) To “create the position of Coordinator of the Covid-19 Response,”[10]

4) To “prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexually orientation and to fully enforce Title VII,”[11] and

5) To require mask-wearing.[12]

Of those five EOs, only one enforced or carried a law enacted by Congress.

The legislature had not given the president the power to executive four out of five of his EOs.

By day 10 of his presidency, he had signed 25 executive orders.

As the top executive of the country, the one charged with carrying laws into enforcement, President Biden’s signature on Executive Order 13992 immediately revoked an executive order of the previous administration. Through this order, President Biden ordered that enforcement of the existing law, the Immigration and Nationality Act, was revoked.

Let us consider EO 13992

President Biden ordered that the enforcement of an existing law was revoked? United States lawmakers had passed a law which needed to be enforced and the chief enforcement officer of the country by EO revoked enforcement?

The author of a law review article parsing Article II[13]opines that the president is vested with the executive power, not the royal prerogative. The article states that the legislative branch and the executive branch are two distinct branches, each given specific rights as well as constraints by the Constitution.

Back to Ben

When Mrs. Powel asked Franklin,” Have we got a republic or a monarchy?” he responded, “A republic if you can keep it.[14]

Today citizens grasp the answer to this question in their own palms. The ultimate power in the republic rests with We the People. As a republic the power rests with We the People.[15]

Use of authorized power

Many who are concerned about the integrity of future elections in our nation, who seek to make sure that elections will be safe, secure, and trustworthy, volunteer for Michigan Fair Elections and PIME. The power rests with We the People.

What might be the alternative to working to keep the republic? What might be the result of failing to guard the power given to the people?

The oath of office might be called the oath of office of Monarch of the United States. And the power might be transferred, once and for all, to the Monarch. Ben Franklin who said, “A republic, if you can keep it,” also said, “A word to the wise is enough.”[16]

[1] DeToqueville, Alex, 1835. Democracy in America [2] Journal kept by James McHenry, a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention. The journal is at the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. [3] The Columbian Dictionary of the English Language (Boston, Isaiah Thomas & Ebenezer T. Andrews, 1800) [4] Executive Order 13767, January 25, 2017 [5] Executive Order 13768, January 25, 2017 [6] Executive Order 13768 [7] Executive Order 13771, January 30, 2017 [8] Executive Order 13985, January 20, 2021 [9] Executive Order 13976, January 20, 2021 [10] Executive Order 13987, January 20, 2021 [11] Executive Order 13988, January 20, 2021 [12] Executive Order 13991, dated January 20, 2021 [13] “Article II vests the executive power, not the royal prerogative,” Julien Davis Mortenson, Columbia Law Review, Vol 119, N. 5 [14] Journal kept by James McHenry, a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention. The journal is at the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. [15] The U.S. Constitution: “We the People of the United States . . .do establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” [16] “The Way to Wealth,” a treatise by Benjamin Franklin, 1758

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