It's probably best described as a Democratic Republic; simply calling it a Republic does not confer the totality of the concept we are operating under.
Most Republics of the past, including the original United States, did not enfranchise the entire population (neither did the first Democracies). A true popular vote never existed in Rome, Revolutionary France, Apartheid South Africa, Soviet Union, early America etc...etc...
There were always groups of adults left out; whether it be women, blacks, opposing political ideologies, members of certain classes or castes, non-natural born citizens and others who didn't hold the same status and the politically privileged classes.
Today, everyone 18 and over, who are legal citizens of the United States can vote in any jurisdiction they are a member of. (The only group left out, in some states, are convicted felons). In addition to the ability to cast your vote for someone you favor to accept or reject legislation there are always statutes (at the state and local level) that allow you to establish and vote in pure Democratic referendums.
Of course, for the most part, indirect representation through elected legislatures, some judges, and the executives of the State and Federal government is the way in which our nation's laws and policies are shaped. Because of that, we are a Republic primarily, not a Democracy.
We're also shifted a little away from Democracy due to the indirect way our presidents are chosen, through the electoral college. Of course, this is the only person in the country elected in such a way (I think), and the only position that can be elected without over 50% of the vote.
Otherwise, though, the popular vote of the totally enfranchised population I think allows us to prefix our Republic with the term "Democratic", it allows us to know that we are mostly a Republic, but we have plenty of Democratic aspects.
I believe you make a valid point. The Founding Fathers did give us a republic when the Constitution was written, but over time the elements of democracy have found its way through our political system. An example is Women's Suffrage and the Black Vote; and we have come a long way as a nation as far as voting rights is concerned.
America: Republic or Democracy? (www.williampmeyers.org)
A Republic is representative government ruled by law (the United States Constitution). A Democracy is government ruled by the majority (mob rule). A Republic recognizes the unalienable rights of individuals while Democracies are only concerned with group wants or needs for the good of the public, or in other words social justice.
Democracies always self-destruct when the non-productive majority realizes that it can vote itself handouts from the productive minority by electing the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury.
What our Founding fathers said about Democracies:
Article IV Section 4, of the Constitution "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion", the word Democracy is not mentioned in the Constitution at all. Madison warned us of the dangers of democracies with this quote, along with more warnings from others.
"Hence it is that democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths... A republic, by which I mean a government in which a scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking." James Madison, Federalist Papers No. 10 (1787).
“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” Thomas Jefferson
“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” John Adams
John Witherspoon: Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state – it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage.
And check this out:
Karl Marx: Democracy is the road to socialism.
Democracy means the "rule of the people." Because of democracy, we now have the Black Vote (1965 Voting Rights Act) http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-
Consider this quote: "In a country with benevolent and compassionate citizens, democracy could be a good thing. The history of human nature, however, is frequently punctuated with evil deeds. One popular definition of democracy is 'two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner.' The majority dictating the future of the individual."
What is your take on the above quote?
Democracy -- A good thing? (www.proliberty.com)
Technically, it is both. The constitution says, "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government" but check out the definition of republic:
republic (n) 1 : a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and is usually a president; also : a nation or other political unit having such a government 2 : a government in which supreme power is held by the citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives governing according to law; also : a nation or other political unit having such a form of government
One cannot have a republic that is not a democracy. So, by definition, we are a democracy.
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