REPUBLIC VS DEMOCRACY… WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
I was having a highly stimulating conversation over a few drinks, (and a football game) at a local bar the other day, on U.S. law, with several people, (bar friends, like Cheers) that were protesting everything from the election results, to the Electoral College, and everything else they felt that was wrong with this country, and their football team! As I listened to their bemoaning while watching the game, I noticed something very interesting… our local pro team is horrible right now, but more importantly, they kept using the word “Democracy” like “We are a Democracy!” and “People are free, because of Democracy!” and they meant it in the context and understanding of a Democracy being the supreme governing body of the U.S., and over the Constitution. In contemplating all that they had to say, I realized 2 very important issues… people wrongly equate Democracy with freedom. and most people don’t know the difference between a Republic and a Democracy, no matter how much beer they drink!
It’s funny, some people are so adamant in their political beliefs, yet haven’t a clue in the meaning of the 2 most important political nomenclatures of the field. If you ask either member (R or D) of their respective party, and what it means to be a Republican or Democrat, I bet you dollars to doughnuts, they will mention political platforms of the parties, (stances on abortion, gay-marriage, taxes, what have you) but will not be able to tell you the actual meaning and difference between the two terms. Do you know? Are you sure?
Let’s start with the actual governing body of the U.S., Surprise!!! The United States of America, as put forth by our founding Fathers is a Republic, not a Democracy. Democracy is meant to assist the ruling Constitution, not for the Constitution to assist the ruling Democracy! I know what you are saying: “But Chessnut, Republic, Democracy, same difference!” My response to you would be “NO!” and you may say “But I hear Obama, Bush and every other politician on both sides of the isle refer to us (the U.S.) as a Democracy, why?” I will answer that, but first, let’s make sure we understand some terms.
Republic: A system in which the main governing body of a state or nation is ruled by a formal Constitution or Charter.
Democracy: A system in which the main governing body of a state or nation is ruled by the will of the majority.
Do they look the same to you? I hope you said “NO!” So, when people use the terms interchangeably, they obviously have an ignorance, or a hidden agenda, and couldn’t be more wrong. Granted these are very rudimentary definitions of the two words, but this blog is for teaching purposes, not a politics debate, and at their core, this is what the two terms actually mean. Democracy is not an equal governing power in our Republic, as some want you to think, Democracy is supposed to be a tool for a Republic. When a Republic and a Democracy are joint, you have the will of the government, picking and choosing, when the laws apply and don’t apply, and when majority rules over the laws instead. This is what the founding Fathers were vehemently trying to avoid, as they had experienced first-hand in England, a King deciding when the laws can be ignored, because he disagreed with them, and felt not subject to or bound by them.
PROS & CONS Republic vs Democracy
PRO- This sets powers and duties of a government, and establishes boundaries of that government, and enumerates all the rights of its people, in a Constitution or Charter. A Republic is an objective complex form of governing, ruled by the needs of the people, through law and logic (over the rule of mob) and prohibits larger groups, from controlling smaller groups. The law, should be the law, and a Republic tries to remove the numerous grey areas out of life. The higher the defined moral compass of the people and its government, the more prosperous and stronger a Republic becomes.
CON- The complexity, rigidity, and spirit of the law, coupled with its constant need of updating, can feel cold, oppressive, unjust, antiquated, and bias, if a high moral compass and a diligence to fluctuating times is not constantly maintained, by its objective leaders and representatives. Powers can corrupt people, and if the needs of the representatives consistently go above the needs of the people, rebellion can and probably will occur. Republics tend to polarize the people, and lead to vacillating moments of either social euphoria or major civil unrest, causing shallow government appeasement to the people, (a “Bread & Circuses” mentality) solving not the actual issue, but only the issues negative result; just dealing with the symptoms or the effect, and not the actual disease or cause.
PRO- Everyone has a voice. Democracy is a subjective simple form of government that attempts to rule by the populace, and the majority desires or wants of that populace. The more educated in social behavior and unified in agreement in goals, and the method to achieve those goals, the more prosperous and stronger a Democracy becomes.
CON- Everyone has a voice, and this can and usually leads to lengthy arguing and political gridlock, by a paralysis from analysis. Democracy also polarizes people, but into a Mob Rules mentality, because numbers absolutely rule, causing a Haves and the Have-Nots society. The majority, no matter how small, (50.01 to 49.99) control the minority, and dictates policy. So yes, everyone voice is heard, but the minorities voice is rejected upon a majority’s victory. If you so happen to repetitively be in the minority, you will become a dissident to rebel against the machine. Therefore, a Democracy is only as good as its people, and in tandem with a Republic, will slowly destroy a Republic and thus, collapse the Democracy.
So, neither a Republic nor a Democracy guarantees having freedom, and neither deserves to be held synonymously with the term freedom. Freedom is a mental construct and something that people desire in any political or governmental system, and must be fought for equally to achieve and maintain! There’s nothing free about freedom. Remember that question from before? Politicians on both sides of the isle refer to us (the U.S.) as a Democracy, why?” Answer: Because it’s much easier to pass personal political agendas in a Democracy, than it is in a Republic. Why? Because in a Democracy, you only need to win a popularity contest, and that’s far easier than proving a political imperative.
What’s your thoughts?
Please leave a respectful Agree or Disagree in the comments below.