DEMOCRACY ~ You think you know this word, right? This word is misused more than I breathe air. Especially this sentence: “America is a democracy.” This is the most commonly incorrect statement that I have come across in the world. Everywhere I have traveled, from England to Singapore to Costa Rica and back to America, I find countless people mistakenly thinking that America is a democracy. They. Are. Wrong.
Are you thinking, “Wait a minute. I thought America was a democracy!”?
The United States of America is a Republic.
Not a democracy. Please repeat one hundred times: ‘the United States is not a democracy’. If you have forgotten this important fact, hopefully, I’m triggering a deep buried memory of a high school history lesson swirling around in your brain. If not, and America being a republic is news to you, we have a serious bone to pick with our school system.
If you didn’t learn it in school, it’s also stated in our Pledge of Allegiance, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.“
A Republic is ruled by law. A democracy is ruled by men.
Sure, a Republic is a representative democracy, but it does not operate the way true democracies operate. True democracies simply operate on “majority wins.” In other words, mob rule. Your rights are reliant on other people’s votes, they are reliant on men.
For example, if 51% of the people don’t pay taxes they can vote for a tax increase on the 49% that do – mob rule. Or if 51% of people are heterosexual and 49% are homosexual, that 51% could vote to jail that 49% – mob rule. Ben Franklin said, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”
As opposed to a Republic, which protects certain unalienable rights for everyone. These rights are viewed as birth rights for everyone and cannot be taken away by the government, even if the government were elected by a majority of voters. This wisely puts constraints on our government from becoming a tyranny. Pure democratic governments have no such constraints.
Our Republic is ruled by law. Which is awesome for us Americans. Because we are subject to law, not to man. Our law is the United States Constitution. Our Founding Fathers created this written constitution of basic rights to protect the minority from being completely unrepresented or overridden by the majority.
Our Founding Fathers despised democracies and considered them dangerous.
Our Founding Fathers considered democracy a dangerous extreme to be avoided. Alexander Hamilton’s view on democracy was pretty clear: “Experience has proved that no position in politics is more false than this. The ancient democracies…never possessed one feature of good government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure, deformity.”[i]
John Adams wasn’t a fan either: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”[ii]
Here is a funny and informative video by Epipheo, that easily and quickly explains the differences between a democracy and a republic. Watch it. You’ll like it.
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[i] Alexander Hamilton’s Speech in New York, urging ratification of the U.S. Constitution (1788-06-21)
[ii] John Adams, letter to John Taylor (15 April 1814).