WE ARE A REPUBLIC NOT A DEMOCRACY!
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…
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”.
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).
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?
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.