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Are we a Republic, Democracy or a combination of both?

Updated on June 29, 2011

The terms republic and democracy have both been used to describe our country. Our Pledge of Allegiance even references the term republic. If we are a republic we must understand the type of republic we are as there several around the world. The point of this article is to answer the question of whether we are a republic or a democracy or a combination of both.

To begin there are several different types of republics in existence around the world as there are several different types of democracies. Examples of republics include constitutional, federal, parliamentary, crowned and a capitalist republic. Examples of democracies include consensus, deliberative, direct and representative democracy. Understanding each of these examples will help us to decide as individuals what type of country we are.

A constitutional republic in simple terms includes a head of state and other officials as representatives of the people. They are governed by the constitutional law binding the government’s power over citizens. A federal republic is basically a federation of states that does not have a monarch. Understanding the term parliamentary with respect to a republic is a type of government that has no clear-cut separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches.

Two other forms of republics include a crowned and a capitalist republic. A crowned republic is a form of constitutional monarchy where the monarch’s role is strictly ceremonial and has little to do with government operations. A capitalist republic is one which is the complete reverse of Marxist thought. Other types of republics exist in the world but the ones identified in this and the preceding paragraph appears to be the most common. Typically a republic form of government is one where the head of state is a President.

The following paragraphs will identify various types of democracies followed by a conclusion on whether we are a republic, a democracy or a combination of both. The first type of democracy to be discussed is a consensus democracy. It is a type of democracy where consensus is important in the political culture and is aimed at preventing domination by one group as opposed to the remaining bodies. Another example of this form of government utilizes the term deliberative involving public deliberation is a common characteristic to establish legitimate lawmaking. A direct democracy is where the people directly make the decisions as opposed to a representative democracy which is founded on individuals representing the people.

The characteristics of a republic and democracy type of government have some similarities. In coming to a conclusion in reference to the question of this article we are a combination of both a republic and a democracy. The manner in which republics and democracies function have basic elements which can be seen embodied in our form of government. We are basically a representative type of government which fits the definition of a constitutional republic and a representative democracy. This does not take away from the fact that our Pledge of Allegiance refers to our form of government as a republic.

There are other similarities between a democracy and a republic not discussed here. We must understand our form of government is unlike others throughout the world with regards to the rights we have as citizens. When our government was formed our founding fathers basically took the better of these two types of government and created a combination both of them. In this election year we will make decisions that will decide our path to the future. Let us make the right ones to put us on the path to recovery from the economic downturn we have been experiencing. The type of government we have provides us as citizens to choose the path our country will take whether it is to continue on with the present course or take another path. Whatever we decide it may well change our country forever.


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    • Dennis AuBuchon profile image

      Dennis AuBuchon 6 years ago



      I always enjoy your comments

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for this most excellent and pithy article. I would say you are concise and right on target. Well done!

    • Dennis AuBuchon profile image

      Dennis AuBuchon 6 years ago


      Thanks for stopping buy to provide some feedback on this hub. With all the talk about democracies and republics I thought it important to discuss the various examples under each.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Great Hub Dennis. The founders who wrote our Constitution did not trust the entirety of the citizenry to make choices as to how the country should be run. That is why only landed white men were allowed to participate in votes and in governing. The beauty of the Constitution is that it is an elastic document and has changed over time to allow for mostly direct voting. It has left us with a combination of the 2 that works quite well though it has other problems. Checks and balances has limited power but has also allowed gridlock and partisanship that is hurting us now.

    • Dennis AuBuchon profile image

      Dennis AuBuchon 6 years ago

      Thanks for your comment. I will look at revising the portions you mentioned especially about the reference to England.

    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 6 years ago from California USA

      Hello Dennis, maybe you should revise this hub, as an Englishman I would not claim England to be a parliamentary republic. It was in the middle of the 17th century but since 1660 it has developed into a Constitutional Monarchy. All powers of the monarch are held within the body of Parliament, the monarch is a figurehead with limited powers but a wide advisory role in government. It is also, in my opinion, an incorrect claim that any monarchy can be a Republic so there can be no crowned monarchies.

      Republics are states where the rule of law and a body in the forms of legislatures create those laws, Nations such as the United States are not democracies as the general population does not take part in ALL aspects of government.

      The US is a Representative Republic as the populace vote for representatives at all levels to make general decisions for the theoretical benefit of all.