Democracy Or Repulic Essay, Research Paper
A DEFINING ESSAY: DEMOCRACY OR REPUBLIC?
Many Americans have grown accustomed to hearing that the United States is a democracy when in fact it s a republic. Often Americans today seem to be unable to define the important difference between these two meanings. By understanding the foundation and true nature of our republic system of government, ones appreciation for the freedom to vote can be greatly enhanced.
A pure democracy, by definition, operates by direct majority vote of the people. When an issue is to be decided, the entire population votes on it; the majority wins and rules. Theoretically, this democratic process requires the full participation of all eligible citizens. The full participation of the people has never worked successfully because often individuals become so occupied with their daily tasks that they will not properly study the issues, nor will they take the time to participate in extensive hearings before the vote is taken. The Greeks are historical proof of a nation who tried to use democratic mass-participation in the government of their city-states, and each time it ended in tyranny.
However, a republic differs in that the general population elects men and women as representatives from each state. Elected representatives from each state form the congress or more specifically the House of Representatives and the Senate. These two groups form the legislative branch of government and vote on behalf of the people to pass laws and govern the nation. Appropriately, two other branches of government, the Judicial and the Executive, are in place to create a system of checks and balances. The system of checks and balances was adopted to prevent the abuse of power.
One of the best ways to show the difference between a democracy and a republic government is to analyze the process of a presidential election. Every presidential election, each state calls certain representatives to form an Electoral College. The Electoral College assures that every state regardless of size and population will have state representation in the election process. This system forces Candidates to run on national themes, avoiding divisive sectional issues that might only appeal to parts of the country. Originally, in fact, a direct popular election was the first choice of James Madison and James Wilson, among others. Upon further deliberation, however, the framers of the constitution rejected direct national elections. Again, why did the Founders create a state-by-state method of electing the president as opposed to a direct national election? Because the president has to govern over all of the United States and not just the most populated states! This was the wisdom of the Four-Fathers, to give every state representation.
On the contrary, if the United States was a democracy and only a majority or popular vote was needed to win the presidency, an extensive national campaign would no longer be necessary. Presidential candidates would only need to gain the votes of a few major cities across the country to secure office. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco would essentially elect the president and millions of other Americans in other states would have no representation. This is why the Electoral College survives election after election, because the United States remains a federal republic. John F. Kennedy argued that the Electoral College is part of a solar system of government institutions. If you tinker with one element, you risk throwing the others out of balance: If it is proposed to change the balance of power of one of the elements of the solar system, he said, it is necessary to change the others.
The Electoral College should not be feared. It should not even be merely tolerated. Instead, it should be celebrated as one of the crowning achievements of our Founding Fathers. As more Americans understand the presidential electoral process, the more they will come to appreciate the vision and insight our inspired Founding Fathers truly had.
As long as Americans continue to entertain the meaningless attitude of not caring about what takes place in government, the more politicians with self-interest will get away with scheming plans to increase the beaurocracy and power of government. The founders of the Constitution faced the same question which no political scientist in any age has been able to answer with complete satisfaction. The question is: How can you have an efficient government but still protect the freedom and unalienable rights of the people? The Founders felt the greatest danger arises when a leader is so completely trusted that the people feel no anxiety to watch him. (pg.105) Alexander Hamilton wrote, For it is truth, which the experience of all ages has attested, that the people are commonly in most danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those [toward] whom they entertain the least suspicion. (Federalist Papers, No. 25, p. 164.) By merely understanding how our government functions and being more aware of what is going on around us, perhaps our horizons will be broadened as to what can be accomplished in government as involved citizens. The fact that a fifty-percent voter turn- out is considered by many as improved or even good, is evidence of the disinterest that persist in our land of liberty. Surely, more can be done