One of my biggest pet peeves is the popular confusion within the masses between our Republic and a democracy. These two terms have been mixed up in America for almost a century now since the adoption of the socialist [democrat] party. The difference is straightforward and simple. Yet, not a day goes buy that a government office-holder or delegate doesn’t refer to the Republic as a democracy.
On the Internet it’s just as large a pet peeve as it should be, but nobody ever explains it. They seem to rely on article 4 section 4 of the Constitution of the United State of America, which guarantees a republican form of government. The closest thing to an explanation they offer, however, is often just a chart showing examples of the hierarchal differences, listed from top to bottom, much like this one:
This is not good enough. Though it does paint an accurate picture of the differences between the two governments, it does not define the terms nor explain them.
So what are the definitions? Two hundred-twenty-odd years ago, the liberated yet uneducated x-British colonists were asking the same thing. The answer came in the form of the Federalist, a circular containing articles written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. The purpose of the Federalist was much the same as my own website and the websites and circulars of countless others, to inform and educate.
Though the Federalist contained several articles on the subject, utilizing several different examples and explanations, the definitions found in Federalist #14 are as follows:
Republic: a system based on individualism where the people assemble and administer government by their representatives and agents.
Democracy: a system based on socialism where the people meet and exercise the government in person.
The intelligent, well-educated men, who were our forefathers recognized the oppressive nature of a democracy and its historical failure into dictatorship, both of which contradict liberty (freedom from government oppression). For a people who had just fought against the most oppressive regime in world, a republic was the single acceptable alternative.
For the most part, the Federalist concentrated on the pros and cons of establishing a federal government. The two fundamental threats that exist for individual states are invasion and internal oppression. Our forefathers found it best for a federal government to handle all international affairs and provide for a common defense. Where that fixes the threat of invasion, it does nothing for internal threats.
The solution to the possibility of on oppressive federal government is constituting specific powers, authorities, and responsibilities of the government. The Constitution of the United States of America is the written law restricting the federal government of the Union of the States of America to its single purpose of protecting our liberty and inalienable rights. Hence the phrase “constitutional republic”.
What good would it have been to establish a republic without limiting its powers and authority? Had the Republic not been constrained so, the representatives and agents, who make up the republic, would assume powers and authorities over the people, who are sovereign. Our legislatures would be passing all sorts of laws to manage and restrict the public. Police forces would be arresting people without regard for due process. That is called oppression and tyranny. Over time, it would become, by the very definition of the term, a democracy.