Thursday, February 9, 2012

Is America a Democracy or Republic?



It is one of my greatest pet peeves to hear someone call America a democracy. We are a republic, not a democracy. Many will say that it's the same thing, or no big deal. Let me explain why it is not the same so that you can assume this pet peeve as well!

Did our Founders want a democracy? Here are some of their thoughts on Democracy:

Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.
- James Madison


Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.
 John Adams
[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy; such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit, and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable [abominable] cruelty of one or a very few.
- John Adams


The experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating, and short-lived.
- John Quincy Adams

A simple democracy . . . is one of the greatest of evils.
- Benjamin Rush



Obviously they were vehemently opposed to democracy. Thus, they gave a republic.  And to the Republic for which it stands...” Sound familiar? “One nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”


So why do so many people think that we have a Democracy? Well, for every lie there is a bit of truth. In this case it is no different. Part of our government is democratic. The people do vote, but they do not vote on every bill themselves. We vote to elect representatives. We vote for President and Vice President. We decide who gets to decide what the rules will be. We do not decide every rule on our own. That would be democracy. We are a republic...we elect men and women to speak on our behalf while we live our lives outside of Washington DC. We must keep an eye on our representation and vote them out if they do not represent us as we would wish.

Republic
REPUB'LIC, n. [L. respublica; res and publica; public affairs.]
1. A commonwealth; a state in which the exercise of the sovereign power is lodged in representatives elected by the people. In modern usage, it differs from a democracy or democratic state, in which the people exercise the powers of sovereignty in person. Yet the democracies of Greece are often called republics.
2. Common interest; the public. [Not in use.]
Republic of letters, the collective body of learned men.
-Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary

Democracy
DEMOCRACY, n. [Gr. People, and to possess, to govern.] Government by the people; a form of government, in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of the people collectively, or in which the people exercise the powers of legislation. Such was the government of Athens.
-NoahWebster's 1828 Dictionary


Outside Independence Hall when the Constitutional Convention of 1787 ended, Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, "A republic, if you can keep it."

To learn more about our republic and it's founding visit AmericanHeritageToday.com and be sure to “Like” my Facebook page or "Follow" me on Twitter! = )

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