Monday, November 21, 2016

Republic or Democracy?

Is the United States a Republic or a Democracy?

This non-issue is sometimes raised by those on the right--it was a favorite claim of the John Birch Society that America is "a republic, not a democracy," meaning the people should not rule. The same dichotomy is sometimes claimed on the Left, but as a complaint that the United States is not actually a direct democracy, or that at its founding the franchise was not universal. You will be hearing the claim coming from the Right in the days ahead -- be ready for it. Democracy and Republicanism are not contraries or mutually exclusive -- the United States is a republic (there is no monarch) and a representative democracy (despite the worries of the founders about the hazards of Democracy). Yes, the democracy is imperfect--how could it not be?--and it could be improved. But it's not one or the other, it's both.

see also

 See also Abraham Lincoln, The Lyceum Address (1838)

Tocqueville, Democracy in America

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