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America: A Republic...Not a Democracy

Updated on August 7, 2010

The Republic of America

Growing up here in America, I was always told that I lived in a Democracy. We hear a lot here about our democratic system. Our leaders brag that this is the "Greatest Democracy" in the world. In fact, if you asked most people, they would probably agree that America is indeed a democracy.

It's not. It's a Republic!

A Republic, by definition, is a system where the leader is not a king of other monarch. Instead, the chief executive is legislated by a mandate from the public, to make decisions for the population. A Republic is a Representative Democracy. The elected leader (Or leaders) has the proxy vote for all his/her/their citizens/subjects, and for an established period of time (As legally agreed to before the election) represents them in the making of laws and rules.

This is different than a direct or standard Democracy. In a true Democracy, sovereignty derives from the direct participation of all citizen. A motion is passed and every person has a say on whether or not to pass the law or reject it. In a Democracy, initiatives can be put out by members of the public, voted on and enacted as law. The public thus has veto power over all laws and rules passed by any magistrate or authority figure.

In a real democracy, the public would decide, by majority vote, what would be done about important legal issues like taxes, immigration, abortion, war and just about everything else.

But this is America and we live in a Republic. Our only decision is to chose who we want making decisions for us. Once the leader is in power, he/she/they can do whatever they want until its time for the next election.

For instance, late in his tenure in office. George Bush had a 35% percent approval rating but was still empowered to make decisions for us all, despite the fact that his agenda was unpopular with the majority of the country. In a real Democracy, the public could have voted down his initiatives and forced their own agenda.

So the next time anyone says that America is a great democracy, you can tell them that it's not a democracy. Its a republic. Remember the line in our national Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag...

..."And to the REPUBLIC, for which it stands!"


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    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Thanks, Habee. People do confuse these terms far too often.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      So many people get confused about this. Great job!

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Very well said, BQ. I like the Twain Quote. The government needs to earn our loyalty.

    • BumptiousQ profile image


      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Corporate-ocracy. I like it.

      To paraphrase Twain: 'Loyalty to the country always, loyalty to the government when it deserves it.' In my view, Twain isn't talking about blind loyalty to the country -- he's too smart for that -- plus he's OBVIOUSLY not talking about blind loyalty to whatever administration is in power and claiming to be "America" at that particular time.

      To me, he's talking about practical, pragmatic loyalty. Be loyal to the country because that's where you live, it's the culture and society you know, and it was certainly a good thing to end an era of living under the yoke of rulers who live across the ocean (England) and were clearly out of touch. But he warns against what we see quite often -- the government and this administration or that administration EQUATING ITSELF with America.

      He understood that a country functions mainly based on the actions of a diverse collection of individuals. This administration or that administration really has nothing to do with whether or not your garbage will be collected, whether your sewer system will work, whether all the things we take for granted will function at least reasonably well. All of that is assured by taxpayer money and the individuals who do the day-to-day work, none of whom are Congressmen, Senators or cable TV pundits.

      In other words, Twain is saying (quite correctly, in my opinion)that the government du jour deserves loyalty if and only if it behaves itself.

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      You're welcome, HH.

      Dahoglund; I know that Twain had his problems with the American system and went to live in England. I hadn't come across the term mobocracy before. I think we're more in a corporate-ocracy.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I think we tended to use the terms interchangeably.In college back in the Happy Days of the 1950's and early sixties, we had quite a bit of classroom discussions on this subject. My History professor though the date of Andrew Jackson's election was the start of a downhill slide for the country. I wrote a paper on Huckleberry Finn to show that Twain did not like democracy. Frank Lloyd Wright, I believe,called it mobocracy.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      You have got a very true point and thank you for the definition.


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