The English language is one of the hardest in the world to learn. Often, one word can have multiple meanings. Today, Americans often cite the United States as a beacon of democracy. Yet, is that really what America is, and did the founders intend to create a democracy?
While it may seem inconsequential whether the US is a democracy or a republic, the terms are not as synonymous as they would appear. Of course, there wasn’t any ill intent in labeling America something that it isn’t. Still, Americans should understand what the founders created and why it matters in our system of government. It would eliminate people’s confusion when the media leaves out critical information about the legislative process, what the executive branch is doing, or why the Supreme Court issued a particular ruling. Perhaps there would be less demagoguery and anger and more dialogue and consensus.
In Federalist Paper No. 10, James Madison wrote: “…democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths … A republic, by which I mean a government in which a scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”
So, America is not a democracy. It’s not a pure republic. Still, it does resemble many of its features. It’s a “representative democracy.”
So what? You might ask.
In a pure democracy, lawmakers pass laws by a majority vote without any concern for the views or experiences of the minority. It leaves the minority largely unprotected from the whims and extremes of a majority.
In a republic, representatives who the people choose write laws. They must comply with the Constitution, which directly protects the rights of the minority from the majority’s will.
The framers created a complex and intricate government full of checks and balances. The Constitution separates powers between three co-equal branches of government. It also separates powers between the federal government and the states.
To suggest the US is a democracy is an inaccurate statement.
This is a critical issue to keep in mind. After Congress ratified the Constitution, a lady approached Benjamin Franklin. She asked him if we had a republic or a monarch. He replied, “A Republic if you can keep it.”
You can’t keep what you don’t know you have.
That’s why this issue is so important.
Don Purdum, Political Analyst
Copyright 2022, ConservativeEra.com