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The Nillabyte Perspective: U.S. & Politics

A Republic Or Democracy: What Every U.S. Citizen Should Know


What form of government do we have in the U.S.? While in school, most of us were taught that we have a democracy. If you listen to the typical republican and democrat politicians and pundits, you would hear the same thing — we have a democracy. How many times have we heard from politicians that a certain act, idea, or bill is a potential threat to our democracy? Problem is, these people who believe in and preach such things are dead wrong. They are either uneducated on the matter, or are purposely misleading those who listen. Our country is not a democracy, it is a republic. And yes, knowing the difference does matter.

Several years ago, I would have rolled my eyes at anyone who would argue concerning the difference between a republic and a democracy. I considered it "word play" at the time, concluding that it doesn't matter what you call it–our country is what it is. However, since then, I have educated myself on history and have learned that there is a vast difference between a democracy and a republic, and there is a need for citizens of the U.S. to understand the difference.

A republic and a democracy are very similar except for one key difference: where each places sovereignty, or power. A democracy gives sovereignty to the citizens as a whole group, or majority, while a republic gives sovereignty to the individual and the people. In a republic, rights are granted from God to the individual. Our government is supposed to protect those rights. In a democracy, rights are determined by the majority, granted by the government, and given to the majority whether or not the subservient minority agrees.

In a democracy, individuals are not recognized, but rather two groups, the majority and the minority, are recognized. There is no such thing as a minority group with rights nor an individual with rights, except those determined by the dictatorial majority. To solve a problem, only the majority is authorized to act.

In a republic, the individual is recognized and the individual has rights. To solve a problem, an individual may act individually, or through his or her representative. A republic is self-government

Founding Fathers And Democracy

What did the founding fathers think of democracy? They thought it to be dangerous. After the Revolutionary War, the founding fathers needed to form a government. Because democracy amounts to mob rule, or a mobocracy, the founders felt that a democracy would lead to tyranny of the individual. At great cost, they had just recently freed themselves from the tyranny of King George. They weren't about to establish a government that could easily become another tyrannical dictatorship.

From October 1787 to May 1788, a series of essays appeared in various New York newspapers. The purpose of these essays was to encourage New Yorkers to ratify the recently drafted U.S. Constitution. These essays, now known as The Federalist Papers, were penned by some of our founding fathers, and explained in great detail certain doctrines found in The Constitution. In Federalist #10 titled The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection 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 have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." The will of the people as a whole can change drastically from one day to the next and allowing the majority to execute their ever swaying will is a very neurotic and unsustainable system.

In many democracies, the majority will eventually learn to rely on the minority for entitlements enforced by the government. When individuals decide to become members of the unproductive majority, there leaves less in the productive minority, and the system will eventually collapse in on itself leaving a dictatorship. In a letter explaining his defense of the U.S. Constitution and our republic, John Adams wrote in 1814, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."

No where in the U.S. Constitution or The Declaration of Independence does the word "democracy" appear. In fact, Article 4, Section 4 of The Constitution states, "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." Our system of government was without question established as a republic.

Knowing The Difference Matters

Why does knowing the difference between a democracy and a republic matter to you? So we can keep our liberties, freedoms, and our republic. If we are irresponsible in our republic, our government can slip into an oligarchy, or a system that is controlled by the elite. After the four month long Constitutional Convention ended on September 18, 1787 (which determined our form of government), Benjamin Franklin emerged from Independence Hall. A Mrs. Powel asked him, "Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" Franklin replied, "A republic, if you can keep it."

How can we keep our republic? Firstly, we must know what a republic is and know our founding documents and our republic's history. In so doing, we can hold our elected officials to a constitutional standard. If we do not have an understanding of The Constitution, or of history, we will be unable to recognize political candidates who do or do not have a constitutional understanding of our government. President Obama has frequently overstepped constitutional bounds. Prior presidents have also done this, democrat and republican. It is our own fault for allowing them to ignore The Constitution. We must not apathetically allow any politician to usurp authority not designated in The Constitution.

We need to know our rights. Reading and knowing our rights which are spelled out in our founding documents will help us recognize when are rights, and others' rights, are threatened. We must defend them (non-violently), or we may lose them.

We must be a religious and moral people. In his farewell address, President George Washington stated, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports." John Adams wrote in a 1798 letter to Mass. brigade officers, "Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."

Without religion, we can not easily have morals, without morals, we can not easily have virtues, and without virtues, we can not easily recognize principles of liberty and freedom. The principles of an immoral and non-virtuous people conflict with the principles of a republic. In order for a republic to survive, there must be virtuous and ethical individuals representing us. And like recognizing politicians who understand The Constitution, we can not expect ourselves to recognize moral and virtuous candidates if we ourselves are not a moral and virtuous people.

A republic is a form of self-government. If we are apathetic, if we do not stand up for our liberties and our freedoms, our republic may become lost. Staying educated on history and The Constitution, and each knowing our own principles will help guide us in selecting individuals for office. Being a religious and moral people will help us remain humble and patient as we deal with representatives and political executives who's principles conflict with our own.

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Comments

  1. Ronald's Avatar
    Being apathetic is one of the worst things that anyone of the U.S.A. could do. We must all be active in our communities and aware of what our representatives, local, state, and federal, are doing. I think we have already slipped into an oligarchy. Anyone who has done a bit of research knows that Obama has surrounded himself with the elite. And the retarded health care bill that recently passed was bought buy the elites. Hopefully, there will be a non-violent revolution come November.
  2. Larry's Avatar
    Let me guess, you are also a gun-rights advocate too
  3. Kyle Buckley's Avatar
    Quote From Larry
    Let me guess, you are also a gun-rights advocate too
    If you are referring to me, yes, I am. The right is found in The Constitution.
  4. Larry's Avatar
    Quote From Kyle Buckley
    If you are referring to me, yes, I am. The right is found in The Constitution.
    If a gun shot you or a family member, I doubt you would still be for gun rights.
  5. Kyle Buckley's Avatar
    Quote From Larry
    If a gun shot you or a family member, I doubt you would still be for gun rights.
    Guns don't shoot by themselves, they need a finger to squeeze the trigger. Banning guns won't stop crime. Crazy people and criminals are going to find ways to hurt, kill, and rob. For example, England has tight gun control laws, and as a result there are tons of stabbings and other knife crimes in that country.

    Since this topic isn't completely relevant to this blog entry, if you wish to continue discussing this gun rights topic, I suggest you do it in our new political forum.

    Note: Larry has started a gun rights debate in our forum.
  6. RHCP's Avatar
    Quote From Larry
    If a gun shot you or a family member, I doubt you would still be for gun rights.
    I would.
  7. berryboy's Avatar
    Citizens as a whole have been far to apathetic. If we don't know our rights, we will lose them.
  8. Joel K's Avatar
    So, according to you, if we all become brainless christians, all our problems will magically go away and we will dance with the bunnies while flowers bloom beneath our feet. Sounds like an easy fix, sign me up.

    Idiot.
  9. Kyle Buckley's Avatar
    Quote From Joel K
    So, according to you, if we all become brainless christians, all our problems will magically go away and we will dance with the bunnies while flowers bloom beneath our feet. Sounds like an easy fix, sign me up.

    Idiot.
    I never said anything about christianity. Nor did I suggest that everything will be roses if we strive to be a religious and moral people.
  10. Matthew's Avatar
    Quote From Joel K
    So, according to you, if we all become brainless christians, all our problems will magically go away and we will dance with the bunnies while flowers bloom beneath our feet. Sounds like an easy fix, sign me up.

    Idiot.
    Were you calling yourself an idiot?

    If you actually read the article, the author never mentioned any particular religion, nor did he mention that all of our problems would instantly go away. What's your problem with christianity anyway?
  11. Joel K's Avatar
    Quote From Matthew
    Were you calling yourself an idiot?

    If you actually read the article, the author never mentioned any particular religion, nor did he mention that all of our problems would instantly go away. What's your problem with christianity anyway?
    To long to describe here. But my biggest problem with this article is that thee author seems to forget about the separation of church and state.
  12. RHCP's Avatar
    Quote From Joel K
    To long to describe here. But my biggest problem with this article is that thee author seems to forget about the separation of church and state.
    I don't think the author is implying that church and state should be combined. He's just saying that people need morals and values. Regardless of your feelings about god or belonging to any one particular church, you have some system of belief that provides you values and morals. Which is another way of saying religion.

    Separation of church and state doesn't mean that people shouldn't be religious, and it doesn't mean our politicians should not be religious. It means that church should not run the government, and the government should not run the church, or in other words, political and religious power should be separated. But this nation was founded with a belief in god.

    Your creating issues here that weren't even in the article. Sounds to me like you need to sort that out on your own instead of just bashing anybody who says anything about god or religion.
  13. Too funny's Avatar
    Quote From Joel K
    To long to describe here. But my biggest problem with this article is that thee author seems to forget about the separation of church and state.
    I find it more than a bit interesting how you assume that “brainless” and “Christian” are synonymous, while you yourself are apparently unaware that too (as in abundant) is in fact spelled with a double o! Go figure… Idiot indeed!

    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to comment and remove all doubt!
  14. Brainless Christian's Avatar
    Quote From Joel K
    To long to describe here. But my biggest problem with this article is that thee author seems to forget about the separation of church and state.
    A very limited understanding of the constitution will illuminate the founding father’s intention where religion is concerned. Certainly the suggestion is not that religion and government should be intertwined, but rather that people should be entitled under this constitution to practice their religion without repercussion or interference. My understanding of this particular article is the suggestion that people need a code of ethics in order to live in a true republic, and that generally people who hold religious values posses such a code. I am always more than a bit puzzled by those who jump on the Christian bashing bandwagon… Please consider the following, and try to keep it in mind.



    In Germany they first came for the Communists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Catholics,
    and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

    Then they came for me —
    and by that time no one was left to speak up. -Pastor Martin Niemöller



    - Just a brainless Christian
  15. WetWiskerRat's Avatar
    Religions cause war. Religion is not moral. Religion is not good for a society.
  16. ljlicker1995's Avatar
    Quote From WetWiskerRat
    Religions cause war. Religion is not moral. Religion is not good for a society.
    I agree. Religion is for non-logical people. They can't explain things, so they create a supreme burrito to explain it.
  17. macelly's Avatar
    Quote From WetWiskerRat
    Religions cause war. Religion is not moral. Religion is not good for a society.
    Wow, where did you come up with those points? Richard Dawkins?

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