America: Republic or Democracy


buffalo chips

Aficionados of this bumper sticker annoyingly correct anyone using the word democracy in conjunction with America. Implied, sometimes stated: those who disagree are ignorant.

I try to let dogmatic asshats people speak for themselves. Here is a libertarian site (The Daily Paul) posting a John Birch Society video explaining why the distinction is urgent:

Here is more. (warning, the bottom ⅔rds delightfully lapses into shadow government conspiracy)


A rose by any other name…

This thought mantra seems to have surfaced back in the 1950s. Sixty years later it is still a pointless semantic wank. Can one get blisters on their semantic?

Cheerleaders for this statement are apt to be anti-democracy zealots who narrowly define democracy ONLY as direct “pure” democracy, un-tempered by law and use phrases like “mobacracy” and “tyranny of the 51%”. Many of them advocate the repeal of the 17th amendment. (direct election of our Senators)

Proponents of this statement failed utterly to decry the passage of “Prop 8” in California as an example of the tyranny of the 51%.    Interesting, because my ox felt gored…

In the real world the rabble voting themselves cookies or voting to tread on rights is not our biggest problem. (A few American states have ballot initiatives and referendums, most do not.) The larger danger is and always will be the relentless inexorable power of money to buy government, buy law,  reassert plutocracy/oligarchy and do away with any real voice for “we the people”.

pic 3

Let’s have a look:

The definition of both words (democracy, republic) is virtually identical. Republic and democracy are listed as each others synonyms. Ancient Athens called itself both a democracy and a republic.

Currently out of 206 sovereign states in the world 135 have “republic” in their name. In practice republic means “not a Monarchy”. The head of state is appointed or democratically elected rather than being hereditary. North Korea is a republic.

Not all republics are democracies. Some monarchies have evolved into democracies but are not republics. (the UK for example).

pic2 republic

All but three nations in the world have a constitution (therefore theoretically rule of law). New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Israel do NOT have constitutions.

Does that mean that (constitution-less not a republic) New Zealand does not have rule of law? Does that mean that the “Federal Republic of Somalia” (republic with a constitution) does?

There is no question that America is a Republic.
Does this mean that we are NOT a democracy?

pic 1 republic

A funny thing happened (to James Madison) on the way to the forum…

AFTER the constitution had been written Madison wrote “Federalist 10” (one of the “federalist papers”). It seems he was troubled by the two words in question being used interchangeably and there being no word that particularly meant “representative democracy”. In federalist 10 he redefines the terms but it didn’t fly with his contemporaries. You know, the other guys who signed the Declaration of Independence and attended the constitutional convention…

I never dreamed I would live to see the American right waging war on government by the people but here we are.

What point is the right wing trying to make? That they believe in the rule of law and people who use the word democracy don’t? Are they flogging the notion that the common rabble should have as little say in governance as possible and leave that to their betters? Or that they agree with Madison, NOT the dictionary, Ben Franklin, Jefferson , De Tocqueville or Abraham Lincoln…

We are a CONSTITUTIONALLY LIMITED REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC in which states can implement some forms of direct democracy if they so choose.

That is quite a mouthful but it’s accurate and saying the word republic means All of that is NOT.

Because Madison redefined terms… when he said democracy (democrat) he only meant pure direct unrestrained democracy, he never used that word to describe the nation he helped create. He STILL thought government “by the people” a wondrous thing. All of the founding fathers thought total pure democracy of the kind that sentenced Socrates to drink hemlock by majority vote inadvisable. You can find many quotes saying so. However…

Madison eventually realized no one else was using his definitions and in 1791 helped Thomas Jefferson found the DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN PARTY. Gosh, I wonder what they meant by democratic? 🙂

The John Birch Society apparently is incapable of good research and putting Federalist 10 into context.  Most of their squawking parrots haven’t bothered with any research at all.

If you don’t read any of my other links, READ THIS ONE.


democracy and republic

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26 Responses to America: Republic or Democracy

  1. John Birch Society is pure evil!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Going to check out the video and links. And for what you’ve stated, is exact. It is the reason I finally chose to be a Democratic socialist.

    I’ve been researching to see where I mostly fit in the American political spectrum.

    Democratic socialism neither strips one of individual rights nor denies one private property and accumulation of riches.

    In fact it helps maintain a democratic Republic which was our founding fathers intentions: to provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.

    And if we do not adopt socialist policies in today’s quickly changing technological environment, countries that do adopt such policies will outpace us.

    “What my focus has been as a congressman, and what my focus will be as a member of the United States Senate if I’m elected, is to bang away at the fact that – with an explosion of technology and worker productivity – it is absolutely insane that the middle class is shrinking, that poverty is increasing, that the next generation may have a lower standard of living than our generation, that 45 million Americans have no health insurance, that we’re losing our pensions, that middle class families can’t afford to send their kids to college, that families are spending 45 or 50 percent of their income on housing.”
    ~ Bernie Sanders~

    BTW, nice horse pictures.

    • Bookmarking link for later use. Like the next time a tea/libertarian-turd tries using Madison out of context again or screams this is a Republic, not a democracy. Thank you, most helpful.

      • osolynden says:

        Added it to the bottom of the blog. I can only wonder why the right has become so revisionist. They can’t really be that stupid, CAN THEY? 😉

        • Not surprised when think about it. Most of the problem is many the christian right/Libertarians have been misquoting the bible for excuse to carry out their political agenda. They are the ones dividing this country! Their party slogan should be…. “Taking Down America”.

          Ecclesiasticus 4:1-4
          My child, do not cheat the poor of their living, and do not keep needy eyes waiting. Do not grieve the hungry, or anger one in need. Do not add to the troubles of the desperate, or delay giving to the needy. Do not reject a suppliant in distress, or turn your face away from the poor.

          Ecclesiasticus 34:24-27
          Like one who kills a son before his father’s eyes is the person who offers a sacrifice from the property of the poor. The bread of the needy is the life of the poor; who ever deprives them of it is a murderer. To take away a neighbor’s living is to commit murder; to deprive an employee of wages is to shed blood.

          And far as women and gay rights, the bible is unjustly written by bronze aged goat herders from the Middle East. Back when women were little more than slaves and gay people where put to death.

          Like the Taliban, their religion is why they’re using the government as a tool to condemn women or gay rights, but at same time practice hypocrisy as they also condemn the social programs that help those in need.

          Also religion brainwashes its followers to vote against their own personal interest too!

          Right-wing/Libertarians are bunch of bigots, worshiping the GOLDEN COW these days!

          • thomassparky says:

            Here’s a list of more MORAL Republicans! Republican County Commissioner David Swartz pleaded guilty to molesting two girls under the age of 11 and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.
            Republican legislator Edison Misla Aldarondo was sentenced to 10 years in prison for raping his daughter between the ages of 9 and 17.
            Republican Committeeman John R. Curtain was charged with molesting a teenage boy and unlawful sexual contact with a minor.
            Republican anti-abortion activist Howard Scott Heldreth is a convicted child rapist in Florida.
            Republican zoning supervisor, Boy Scout leader and Lutheran church president Dennis L. Rader pleaded guilty to performing a sexual act on an 11-year old girl he murdered.
            Republican anti-abortion activist Nicholas Morency pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography on his computer and offering a bounty to anybody who murders an abortion doctor.
            Republican campaign consultant Tom Shortridge was sentenced to three years probation for taking nude photographs of a 15-year old girl.
            Republican racist pedophile and United States Senator Strom Thurmond had sex with a 15-year old black girl which produced a child.
            Republican pastor Mike Hintz, whom George W. Bush commended during the 2004 presidential campaign, surrendered to police after admitting to a sexual affair with a female juvenile.
            Republican legislator Peter Dibble pleaded no contest to having an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old girl.
            Republican advertising consultant Carey Lee Cramer was charged with molesting his 9-year old step-daughter after including her in an anti-Gore television commercial.
            Republican activist Lawrence E. King, Jr. organized child sex parties at the White House during the 1980s.
            Republican lobbyist Craig J. Spence organized child sex parties at the White House during the 1980s.
            Republican Congressman Donald “Buz” Lukens was found guilty of having sex with a female minor and sentenced to one month in jail.
            Republican fundraiser Richard A. Delgaudio was found guilty of child porn charges and paying two teenage girls to pose for sexual photos.
            Republican activist Mark A. Grethen convicted on six counts of sex crimes involving children.
            Republican activist Randal David Ankeney pleaded guilty to attempted sexual assault on a child.
            Republican Congressman Dan Crane had sex with a female minor working as a congressional page.
            Republican activist and Christian Coalition leader Beverly Russell admitted to an incestuous relationship with his step daughter.
            Republican Judge Ronald C. Kline was placed under house arrest for child molestation and possession of child pornography.
            Republican congressman and anti-gay activist Robert Bauman was charged with having sex with a 16-year-old boy he picked up at a gay bar.
            Republican Committee Chairman Jeffrey Patti was arrested for distributing a video clip of a 5-year-old girl being raped.
            Republican activist Marty Glickman (a.k.a. “Republican Marty”), was taken into custody by Florida police on four counts of unlawful sexual activity with an underage girl and one count of delivering the drug LSD.
            Republican legislative aide Howard L. Brooks was charged with molesting a 12-year old boy and possession of child pornography.

            • Whoa, just shows how cynical and diabolical many Republicans have become!

              Check this site out……

            • osolynden says:

              Hi Thomas! Your support is greatly appreciated. When I talk politics the room empties… Odd since it matters so much.

              What I really want to know is HOW IS SPARKY, and the other pups too of course. 😉

              I appreciate your list of villainous right wingers and the irony is not lost on me that this is a group that often bangs the bible and wants to claim moral high ground.

              The problem is that over and again the right (in debate) simply counters with a list of left wing sinners and they too are legion.

              Hope all is well at your house and the pups continue to delight.

  2. Bill Moyers: America is on the verge of being overrun by ‘mad dash’ toward oligarchy.

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