Why does the definition of a democracy and republic matter?

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  1. sean kinn profile image60
    sean kinnposted 7 years ago

    Why does the definition of a democracy and republic matter?

    I know the basic difference between a democracy and a republic - so the question is: Why does it matter? Why do some people feel that it is important to point out that most Americans believe that they live in a democracy - whereas, most people in the world believe that Americans actually live in a republic?


  2. profile image0
    Motown2Chitownposted 7 years ago

    Well, the truth of the matter is that Americans do in fact live in a republic.  That means that our nation is governed by laws that are already set in place.  Those laws can be changed, and the people HAVE A SAY in what those laws should and will be because of the democratic nature of our government, but we are a republic like many other nations.  We are what is called a democratic republic.

    Other nations point this out because they feel that Americans may feel that we are better than others because we live in a "democracy" when in fact we do not.  My understanding is that most other nations are republics (without the democratic caveat) and they want Americans to understand that while we may have a say in our government through our rights, we are ultimately governed by the law, not the people - just like they are.

    In general, a democracy means that majority rules.  So, good or bad, what the majority of the people want, they get.  A republic has a governing body who makes laws for the people to live by - period.  There is no input from the people.  In America, while we have a governing body who makes our laws, we are the individuals who put them there through democratic (free) participation in the electoral system.

  3. Bibowen profile image95
    Bibowenposted 7 years ago

    I reason why it matters is that there is a constitutional distinction. Article IV, sect. 4 of the Constitution says that that the states of the union are guaranteed a "republican form of government." Furthermore, James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution" gave a scathing indictment of democracy in Federalist #10.

    So, our system is a republic--laws are not made directly by the people, but by their chosen representatives.

    It might be best to say that we are a "democratic republic." "Democracy" defines what kind of republic we are.

  4. sean kinn profile image60
    sean kinnposted 7 years ago

    Wow, two incredible answers. Thank you very much.

  5. justamber profile image60
    justamberposted 7 years ago

    A democracy means most the amount of people makes the decision. So 49 people would be doing what 51 people want. But a republic means we elect people to make decisions. It matters because the definitions are different.

  6. ameliejan profile image81
    ameliejanposted 7 years ago

    I wish it wouldn't matter - we should learn to live and let live sometimes, but it's impossible to live by certain philosophies if others aren't, so there is conflict.

  7. American View profile image62
    American Viewposted 7 years ago

    There is a  difference between the 2. I guess people will argue over it for years to come

  8. nifty@50 profile image71
    nifty@50posted 7 years ago

    If a voter does not  have a basic understanding of what kind of government they live under or how it works, do they really have any business voting? My answer is absolutely not! Picking our leaders, is understanding the way government works and picking those most fit to lead. It is not a popularity contest that should be handed to the "dumb masses". Get educated, Know who your congressman is and then vote. Otherwise stay home and watch American Idol!

  9. swordsbane profile image61
    swordsbaneposted 7 years ago

    For the same reason people think being a Republican or Democrat matters?

    Nifty50 says: "If a voter does not have a basic understanding of what kind of government they live under or how it works, do they really have any business voting?  My answer is absolutely not!"

    is less than half correct.  Having a basic understanding of how our government works doesn't mean labeling it, and it doesn't mean knowing the difference between republic or democracy.  It means what it says... no more, no less.

    Point of fact: We're not living in a Republic by the strictest definition.  The best you can say is that it's got more elements of a Republic than it has of a Democracy, but that doesn't really tell you anything.

    As a people, we're not going to get anywhere until we stop getting hung up on what to call something and get down to business on what we want as a people and what we know works and doesn't work.  In my experience, people who throw around terms like republic or democracy to identify our government are looking to say that one of them is bad or one of them is good.  It's the same kind of mentality that wants to label Obama as a socialist, because if you can successfully do that, then socialism = bad and therefore Obama = bad.  It's much easier than dissecting his policies and PROVING that he's a bad president. (and in case you think I'm plugging Obama, I think he is an idiot.  I didn't vote for him the first time and I don't plan to vote for him next time either)

    It's academic to talk about our country as a republic or democracy.  If you're making an academic point, then by all means, go for it.  However, if you're trying to make a political point, even assuming you prove your point one way or another, what does that really mean?  You've still got to prove why one is preferable over the other, and it's not as easy as you might think.  It's much more constructive to root out what is bad about our system and how to improve it.  It's also much simpler to ignore the label and go for the substance in the first place.

  10. leroy64 profile image80
    leroy64posted 7 years ago

    If we don't understand such a basic principal of our government, then we will not have a basis from which to judge the candidate's understanding of what his job actually will be.  All politicians are just citizens who put thier names in the ring.  No different from you and me, except they want the job.


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