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The American Government, Have you a Constitutional Republic or Democracy

Updated on November 28, 2013

Do you know your government?

A real history lesson

It has come to my attention lately that a lot of people have differing point of view on the type of government that the United States was founded under. I will explore this subject in the next few paragraphs and try to clarify this for those who may not know the difference.

Democracy, is defined by majority rule, the Declaration of Independence and our constitution do not even mention the word "democracy". The chief characteristic and distinguishing feature of a Democracy is: Rule by Omnipotent Majority. In a Democracy, whether it be a Direct Democracy, or a Representative Democracy., The Individual, and any group of Individuals composing any Minority, has no protection against the unlimited power of The Majority. It is a case of Majority-over-Man.

Many of our founding fathers warned of this particular type of government, the following is excerpts from some of the main figures in founding the American type of government.

Madison’s observations in The Federalist number 10 his thoughts highlight a grave error made through the centuries regarding Democracy as a form of government. Madison on the subject of Democracy said, "Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed, that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions."

Thomas Jefferson said of Democracy, “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.”

When Benjamin Franklin was asked, “What kind of government have you given us?” His reply, A republic if you can keep it.”

As you can see in the above statements by some of the most note worthy of our founders, Democracy was not the form of government they sought, but they feared it.

Constitutional Republic, on the other hand, has a very different purpose and an entirely different form , or system, of government. Its purpose is to control The Majority strictly, as well as all others among the people, primarily to protect The Individual’s God-given, unalienable rights and therefore for the protection of the rights of The Minority, of all minorities, and the liberties of people in general.

In a Republic, the sovereignty resides with the people themselves. In a Republic, one may act on his own or through his representatives when he chooses to solve a problem. The people have no obligation to the government; instead, the government is a servant of the people (it seems that a lot of today’s politicians has lost sight of this), and obliged to its owner, We the People, was not wrote in jest.

The definition of a Republic is: a constitutionally limited government of the representative type, created by a written Constitution--adopted by the people and changeable (from its original meaning) by them only by its amendment--with its powers divided between three separate Branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. This far different from a democracy, here the term "the people" means, of course, the electorate.

This system of Constitution-making, for the purpose of establishing constitutionally limited government, is designed to put into practice the principle of the Declaration of Independence: that the people form their governments and grant to them only "just powers," limited powers, in order primarily to secure (to make and keep secure) their God-given, unalienable rights.

The goal of a Constitutional Republic was to avoid the dangerous extreme of either tyranny or mobocracy associated with a democracy.

In the words of Madison made in an observation in The Federalist (no. 55) he states; "As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government (that of a Republic) presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another."

John Adams defined a constitutional republic as "a government of laws, and not of men.

James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and others, held that the federal government was not the sole or final judge of its own authority, holding that this would "make it, and not the Constitution, the judge of its powers.

A republic, as distinguished from a democracy, the people is not only checked in choosing officials but also in making laws.

In closing, as you can see from their own words, the United States of America was never a Democracy, but a Constitutional Republic. So, even with revisionist history books and the constant barrage of the word democracy by today’s current politicians, the fact remains that a Democracy we are not.

The constitution doesn't give the Federal Government powers over the states and makes clear that all powers not defined in the constitution belong to the state. This is also part of the republic definition, the Federal government wasn't created to control the people or states, the republic is the coalition of states that govern themselves, this was bastardized when people were allowed to vote for state senators instead being appointed.

A present day example of democracy is the attempt of the Democrats and President Obama to force the America public into a public health insurance program. The law was passed on a purely majority rule effort and under rule changes from the senate, also know as the nuclear option. The nuclear option is a simple majority rule vote, 51 over 50 wins the day. This is one of the most dangerous forms of democracy, this means that 51 over 50 could vote to get rid of rights for a certain group of people and it would become law if signed by the president without recourse. With the courts stacked in favor of one political party or the other the decimations of the law on legal grounds become more difficult in the present environment than any other time in history.

Once democracy gains a foot hold in a government structure is hard to reverse course by the mere structure of the divide of parties and powers. The powers in the minorities will resent being out voted and once the roles are reversed, the new majority will have the feeling of superiority and will vote using the same rules to achieve it's objectives. They will not use their power to change the rules back to what they were until they are satisfied that they have gained an advantage that could only be reversed by a vanquish of power by the minority again. Then the circle begins again.

Another current environment caused by democracy type legislation is the entitlements of one race, sex or group has gained over another in the name of past atrocities. This is known as the quota system of government and industry, In this example of democracy, it is a pure game of numbers over fairness. In other words, if a group is made up entirely of men, women shall have the right to become a part of the group regardless of the requirements of the group to gain entry. Another form is the education system in the college entrance exams, where one race is given extra points on an entry form over another race based merely on the color of ones skin and not the prior performance shown to gain entry into the institution.

There are hundreds more examples in today's society, but these are just food for thought and reflection into the way we administer todays laws.

So if you are confronted with question in the future, print this paper and use it to hold on to the truth. If parts or a sum it parts appear in other articles on the internet it purely incidental and used for education purposes only.


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    • Tiffany Dian Payne Bph profile image

      Tiffany Payne 

      2 months ago from Las Vegas

      Great article..

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      I agree with much of what you explain about democracy. Yes having a majority has little to do with fairness, efficiency or justice. There is so much about today's laws and judgments that are the opposite of fairness, efficiency, freedom, or justice.

      Your examples of health care and reparations you described as a quota system have nothing to do with democracy nor republics. They are attempts ill fated or not at justice and fairness. You object to a government working towards justice and fairness because you believe that effort is from democratic means which take away freedom. I agree that those attempts fall short. But you express that our government's problem is democracy.

      Our government is far from a democracy, or a republic. Again I agree that democracy is not a guarantee of justice or fairness. Our government is unjust in several major areas, especially economically. It also significantly goes against freedom of choice. I agree that democratic means are often mechanisms of control. But democracy is not the major issue in our case. (It might be were we to have more of a democracy)

      The control over our society looks like it comes from our government but that's inaccurate and incomplete. Our government is an oligarchy controlled by moneyed interests, large corporations, bankers/wall street, and wealthy elite. To blame democracy for the control exerted by oligarchs leads to greater control by the oligarchs. To believe that democracy is good and that we are run democratically also perpetuates control by the oligarchs.

      Regarding your examples. The health care debacle is not because a democracy is forcing you to pay for health care against your will. The outrage is that the insurance companies control the outcome even at the hands of an enormous effort by people working for health care for the public.

      In this case health care is synonymous for justice. You object to those people working for justice because it takes away your choice. The choice for everybody was taken away by insurance companies working for profit above health care (justice) and choice. People are forced to make a payment even if they elect not to have health care, that's coming from profiteering insurance companies.

      Also coming from insurance companies are the highly inflated prices and significant lack of coverage. That didn't come from government. It looks like it came from government because the insurance companies are responsible for the legislation and then the government enforces that legislation.

      People believing government is in control and missing the fact that corporations, bankers, and wealthy elite control the government is one of our major overwhelming probelms.

      The detractors of ACA point to their freedom being denied while the proponents of ACA take the bone with no meat thrown to them and believe democracy was at work. So you have people in major conflict pointing to each other while the profiteers usurp the hard earned money generated by the public.

      I like your descriptions of democracy but I disagree with the stance that you are more concerned with freedom than justice while currently we have neither.

      Freedom and justice are not a dichotomy where one excludes the other. They are nuanced realities that take energy to balance and proportion. The general public holding freedom and justice as opposing; pave the road for the oligarchs to have free reign. Such is the liberal/conservative politics in the US. (and elsewhere)

    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 

      7 years ago from usa


      Check these links out and compare with the truth.

      ‘’The Life Of Julia’’ a clenched black hand symbol

      The Life of Julia,’ Corrected

      Obama campaign false or dubious assumptions

    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 

      7 years ago from usa


      THE PROBLEMS appear to be that children are being thought a progressive's view of our government. Parents need to question what their children are being taught.

    • R.Cochran profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Dahlonega, GA

      As Scottmonster states, I skip over a short time period. This is because is was not the final government that we ended up with.

    • Scottmonster profile image

      Scott Vehstedt 

      7 years ago from Washington, D.C.

      There are actually a lot of inaccuracies here. Just for starters I think its important that you fail to point out that the Constitution was not the first design of our government. Why do you skip over 1776 to 1789 in your view of history? Second, democracy or republic, the Constitution requires all states to provide republican government to its citizens, which is something no other society on Earth requires. The design of the federal government is not therefore, the only consideration since every state is different.

      Most important is the false definition of a republic. A republic is not defined as a constitutionally limited government. In the late eighteenth century a republic was defined as any form of government which was not a monarchy. The U.S. under the Articles of Confederation was a republic, and no one could vote! There was and remains no requirement of a constitution. Nor is there any quality of a democracy or a republic which intrinsically leads to a tyranny of the majority. Athens had democracy, and no constitution. The Romans had a republic and no constitution.

      The paragraph about how the federal government has no power over the states is quite interesting. One would think that the civil war settled this question, and yet it seems that the obvious still has to be stated again and again. Read Article 6 of the Constitution.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I am in complete agreement with all of the above. Most recently my Daughter brought home a home work assignment from her school (fairfax county Virginia). They had asked to explain how a "Representative Democracy" relates to our current Government. I explained to my Daughter this was not our government and that we were a Constitutional Republic. I then called the school and asked them why they would be teaching this skewed view of our government. After alot of dancing they stated we know there is a difference between a Representative Democracy and a Constitutional Republic any they agreed in was wrong but they had no choice as they are required to teach the curriculum of the Fairfax County School Board. I am now locked in a battle with the School Administrators explaining my position and defending the very US Constitution of which provides these knot heads the freedon of which they live. Next to the Constitution can any provide with any support / words of wisdom to get the school change their standard of teaching.

    • profile image

      Shawn Davis 

      9 years ago

      Not really. The Constitution and Bill of rights say nothing of Capitalism either -- not one word, but we're still a capitalist country. We are indeed a constitutional republic and a representative republic and a liberal democracy; all these terms are modern just like capitalism. They all imply a limit on direct democracy. Splitting hairs? Not really since it's dangerous to imply we ren't a democracy -- we are; just not a direct democracy which was the model feared by the founding fathers.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      9 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Hi RCochran. This is an outstanding Hub. You are quite right that this Constitution had nothing to do with democracy. The states picked their electors who elected the President. The founding fathers feared the rule of the mob and felt that they did not have the wisdom to choose their officials prudently. They were wise to separate powers keeping each branch of government checked by the others. The Bill of Rights which was passed after the ratification of the original Constitution was ingenious in ensuring the minority was protected. It is also elastic enough to deal with changing times and conditions. Thank you for an article of sanity, correct history, and food for thought.

    • thevoice profile image


      9 years ago from carthage ill

      many great points well read


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