Why America is Not a Democracy but Instead a Republic:
One rallying cry you hear from the disaffected and radical left is that America is an evil, irredeemable country. There are many facets to that viewpoint of theirs, but a central one is that we live in an evil country because America is not a democracy, but a republic.
The difference between a republic and a democracy is a huge one, even though it is rarely discussed anymore, especially by our politicians and teachers, the very ones who should be frequently discussing the American project. The difference between a republic and a democracy stems from their very nature, as you can see in their definitions.
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The Difference Between a Republic and a Democracy
A democracy is defined as:
government by the people, especially : rule of the majorityFrom: Merriam-Webster
On the other hand, a republic is:
a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to lawFrom: Merriam-Webster
Sorry for directly quoting a dictionary, I know that is generally poor form. However, in this case, I thought it was necessary to prove my point about why the very natures of republics and democracies make is important that America is not a democracy but rather a republic.
Republics are nations of laws. In the United States, that law is the Constitution. We are governed by it and all laws in the land must be acceptable based on its articles and all government must follow the rules laid down in the Constitution (however, that deference to the Constitution is now, to some extent at least, being lost). Although Americans are able to vote and elect representatives, America is not a democracy because those votes are just for elected representatives, not for the very laws themselves. In both democracies and republics, there is voting. The difference is that citizens in republics vote on representatives to uphold the law, whereas citizens in democracies vote on the very laws themselves.
Democracies are nations where the law is purely and totally what the majority wants. It is the rule of, by, and for the mob because the smallest majority is able to exert its will on the minority, whatever the previous laws were.
Suddenly hate a certain group? No problem, find a majority coalition that also hates that group and wants to oppress them! Are you a politician that feels too constrained by the law as it stands? In a democracy, that is easily fixable; just rally a majority to vote to change the law to fit your will! All you need is for more than fifty percent of people to vote for something and you can make it happen.
That is not a system conducive to true rule of law. If the law can change at any time based on the will of the mob and the demagogues that harness the power of the mob, then it is impossible to have a stable society. The majority will always vote to oppress the minority.
In America’s case, America being a democracy right now would mean that the Democrats, who make up the majority of the population, could vote to do whatever they wanted to Republicans. Just look at what is happening to Republicans in California if you want an example. There would be no sacrosanct laws like the Constitution. Instead, our laws would be constantly changing based on the shifting and radical desires of the majoritarian mob.
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Why It is Important that America is not a Democracy:
Aristotle understood that. That’s why he considered democracy one of the worst forms of government. Our Founding Fathers understood that democracy is generally unjust and evil. That’s why when they began the world anew, they ensured that America is not a democracy now or ever. Our system of government is republicanism.
And thank goodness for the foresight of our Founding Fathers. Thanks to them, we can still say that America is not a democracy but a republic. That is what has saved us from the tempestuous sea of a mob’s hive mind. Rather than having to constantly adapt to the will of the majority, Americans are instead free to debate issues as they see fit and survive when they are in minorities.
In America, unlike in direct democracies, out of power political groups aren’t oppressed, but instead able to continue functioning and remain the opposition mainly because of the fact that America is not a democracy. If it were, then the minority would constantly be under the thumb of the minority.
I know I’ve repeated myself, but I think that hammering home why it is so important for minorities of any stripe (racial, political, sexual preference, etc.) that America is not a democracy. We are a nation of laws that cannot be changed simply because the majority wants them to be changed. That fact gives protections to groups out of favor that would not be there if America was a democracy and the mob could choose what to do.
Look at Rwanda and the Rwandan genocide for an example of what might have happened if it were not true that America is not a democracy but instead a republic. In Rwanda, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, were in power and continually voted to oppress the Tutsis after the Belgians decolonized and left. As a result, when the final spark lit the tinderbox, there was unspeakable violence and over 800,000 people died in 100 days.
I’m not saying that America would be the scene of millions of murders by machete if we were a democracy. But, I do think that the very nature of us being a nation of immutable (other than by amendment) laws means that we have significantly less oppression than we would otherwise have.
The Civil Rights protesters, for example, have the fact that America is not a democracy to thank for the fact that their claims on political equality and economic equality of opportunity were eventually recognized. Because we have to abide by our laws, even ones that are not beneficial to the majority, minorities were able to petition for their rights and win. In a democracy, it is far less likely that that would have happened. Instead, the majority could have just oppressed the minority indefinitely. Thanks to the fact that America is not a democracy, our citizens and states are now in a “more perfect union” that better lives up to the ideals of our Founders.
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We need to Re-educate Americans on Why Republics are Better than Democracies
Nowadays, all of that knowledge about why it is a good thing that America is not a democracy has been lost.
Most Americans probably could not even tell you the difference between a republic and a democracy. They might have some vague concept that America is one rather than another and that perhaps the difference relates to voting, but their conception of that difference is foggy at best.
Early Americans, on the other hand, were remarkably well-read and made sure that America is not a democracy because they understood the danger of the tyranny of the majority that is inherent in democracies. Now, even George W. Bush, an intelligent president that went to Yale incorrectly believed that America was a democracy and should spread democracy rather than republicanism! Everyone is so poorly educated that they can’t understand why it is important that America is not a democracy but is instead a republic.
So, we conservatives that want to ensure it remains true that America is not a democracy but rather a republic need to start educating the public on the difference between republics and democracies and why republics are far better because they lead to a respect of individual rights and thus minorities. As Ayn Rand said, “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”
Party Names Show who Supports Democracy and Who Supports Republicanism
So, those that defend republican principles from the potential tyranny by democracy are defending not only the rule of law, but also individuals and minorities.
Finally, I think it is important to say that the names of America’s two political parties are very instructive right now.
The Democrats are just what their name implies. They believe not in republicanism and the rule of law, but rather in the rule of the mob and the simple majority. Their collective coronary when they saw that Trump lost the popular vote but won the election is point in proof to that. They think that the majority is all that matters and always have. Remember, the Democrats were the party of slavery because they believed that the majority had a right to enslave and oppress the minority simply because it wanted to do so.
Republicans, on the other hand, are by and large people that believe in republican principles. We on the right understand why it important that a) America is not a democracy but is instead a nation of laws and b) those laws are (rightly) based on protecting natural rights. That’s why we are the party of erasing slavery and respecting civil rights; we know that our laws defend the natural rights of all people, whatever their race or ideology.
It’s important that America is not a democracy. That fact, one that is more important than almost anything else, is what has led to the survival of our nation. The Founding Fathers understood its importance, hence why it and the topic of majority power are so heavily discussed in both The Federalist Papers and The Anti-Federalist Papers; whether they were Federalists or Anti-Federalists, early Americans understood that a pure democracy was not acceptable.
Modern Americans need to relearn that fact and start defending America’s republican nature, an aspect of our nation that great men like Jefferson were quite fond of. That nature is what ensures that our rights are respected no matter the party in power, which is something that all Americans should agree on.
By: Gen Z Conservative
Image at top from: TPUSA