Note to America- this is not a democracy! The United States is a republic, not a mobocracy of the majority.
After the recent presidential election, there have been many questions around the country about the democracy of our nation. Some claim the democracy elected Al Gore last November. Others around the country amassed in protest about how the people spoke and that democracy is threatened.
Well, it is time to wake up, America, and realize this country is not a democracy: it is a Republic. Those of you in political science might hide this word by saying it’s a ‘representative democracy.’ No matter what you call it, America is a republic and it always has been.
The difference is that a democracy votes on everything, and in every case, the majority rules. A republican form of government gives its power to elected representatives who make the laws and uphold them. Some might think this is elitist, but it is the only way to save the minority, from the mobocracy of the majority.
If you don’t think this nation is a republic, read the Constitution, Article 4, and Section 4. It guarantees us a republican form of government. When you say the pledge of allegiance, you say “and to the republic for which it stands.” This nation is a republic, a fact that has saved us from the mob of the majority. During World War I when the majority of Americans were isolationists, the republican form of government acted on stopping the tyranny of the Kaiser. In the 1950s, it was the republican form of government that desegregated schools, through the courts and President Eisenhower. The majority would have surely rejected this.
Our republic elects representatives who speak for them. We do not vote on every action of the federal government. Our representatives in the elected branches do. Some might say the majority rules in a republic too, but not as much. The majority may elect our officials, but members in the minority can lobby and visit with those officials to change their mind and vote. Many times representatives cross over ideological and political lines to vote for something the majority of their constituency may not approve of. For example, Representative Jim McDermott represents one of the most liberal districts in the country here in Seattle. Yet he voted in approval of the WTO.
Democracy leads to chaos and passion-run voting. People are too easily swung by moods of the moments and information-deprived opinions. In a democracy, the people would vote on laws on everything from library fines to military budgets to welfare. Most citizens do not have the knowledge or state of mind to vote on these things on a daily basis. But in an elected republican form of government, they are dealt with in a more knowledgeable and thoughtful approach. Of course, this isn’t always the truth. Sometimes politicians get caught up in personal attacks and emotions. Nothing is perfect. We are a nation of laws, not men. Our government protects people from their own tyranny and oppression. Our republic has survived wars, depressions and civil injustices. In the coming days, our republic will survive a very interesting election. This republic will continue to see minorities protected from the majority and justice administered to all, equally. A democracy would leave us, as Oscar Wilde says, “to the bludgeoning of the people, for the people, and by the people.” Long live the Republic!
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