Thursday, January 5, 2012

Republic vs. Democracy...Which One is the United States?

"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."

Every day, Reilly, Dane and I say the Pledge of Allegiance before we start school.  As we were reciting it, I realized that the pledge calls our Nation a Republic...not a Democracy.  So is there a difference, and if so what is it?
Well, just in case you are like me and thought the terms were interchangeable, I wanted to share what I found out.  No matter if this is old news or new news to you, would you please share this with others? 
Just after the completion and signing of the Constitution, in reply to a woman's inquiry as to the type of government the Founders had created, Benjamin Franklin said, "A Republic, if you can keep it."
  • Involves the government ruling and making laws for the "greater good" of all people.  They may abolish personal rights in doing so.
  • Democracy is government by and for the people. They may or may not be republics--that is, government limited by constitution or charter.
  • The tricky part of "democracy" is defining "the people" and then deciding what counts as "by the people" and what counts as "for the people." In a sense, that could be considered the content of democratic practice. 
(I read one example, albeit extreme, that I'll share with you here:  In a Democracy, if the Majority voted that murder was no longer illegal, murder would no longer be a crime.  Scary, huh?)

  • Involves the government using and abiding by the constitution heavily. Personal rights are respected and cannot be taken away. This helps to avoid tyranny and mobocracy (the majority makes laws and governs by passion, prejudice, or impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences).
  • Republics are the common and "standard" type of governments found today, not democracies, despite what many people (who may not know the definition of either) think.
  • Just as democracies may or may not be republics, republics may or may not be democracies.
The difference between Democracy and Republic:
  • Democracy and Republic are two forms of government which are distinguished by their treatment of the Minority, and the Individual, by the Majority.
  • In a Democracy, the Majority has unlimited power over the Minority. This system of government does not provide a legal safeguard of the rights of the Individual and the Minority. It has been referred to as "Majority over Man".
  • In a Republic, the Majority is Limited and constrained by a written Constitution which protects the rights of the Individual and the Minority. The purpose of a Republic form of government is to control the Majority and to protect the God-given, inalienable rights and liberty of the Individual.
The United States of America is founded as a Republic under the Constitution.

Here's an interesting article you might want to read, too:

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