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Is the United States a Democracy?





deanhills
Is the United States a democracy? What are your views? I found the following interesting article on "Is the United States a Democracy" and thought it made a great deal of sense:
Quote:
In the strictest sense of the word, the system of government established by the Constitution was never intended to be a "democracy." This is evident not only in the wording of the Pledge of Allegiance but in the Constitution itself which declares that "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government" (Article IV, Section 4). Moreover, the scheme of representation and the various mechanisms for selecting representatives established by the Constitution were clearly intended to produce a republic, not a democracy.

To the extent that the United States of America has moved away from its republican roots and become more "democratic," it has strayed from the intentions of the Constitution's authors. Whether or not the trend toward more direct democracy would be smiled upon by the Framers depends on the answer to another question. Are the American people today sufficiently better informed and otherwise equipped to be wise and prudent democratic citizens than were American citizens in the late 1700s? By all accounts, the answer to this second question is an emphatic "no."
standready
Reminds me of my high school English teacher. On the first day of class he stated very clearly "This is a democratic classroom, you vote, I decide!" That seems to be what the US government has become.
Are we now better informed - NO! How can we be when the politicians tell us what they think we want to hear then do whatever benefits themselves without regard to what the people they supposedly represent want.
ocalhoun
Are the people better informed and better equipped?
Yes, actually.

Why then the problems?
Because the politicians are even better informed and even better equipped to manipulate them.
deanhills
But is the Government a democracy or a republic? According to the article I quoted in my OP, it says that the founding fathers never intended to have a democracy.
Quote:
"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government" (Article IV, Section 4). Moreover, the scheme of representation and the various mechanisms for selecting representatives established by the Constitution were clearly intended to produce a republic, not a democracy.
Apparently the founding fathers wanted a Republic instead. However that with the system of representation, that the US Government may qualify for being a democracy. Do you agree with this point of view? Is the US Government as it presently stands a democracy or a republic?
Voodoocat
Quote:
Is the US Government as it presently stands a democracy or a republic?


Considering the rather heavy handed approach the current administration is taking when dealing with its citizenry, perhaps "enlightened despot" would be the correct term. Remember these famous quotes:

We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
http://www.notable-quotes.com/o/obama_barack.html
(Yeah right- we all must have been seeking trillion dollar deficits. Thanks Obamanation)

I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/barackobama/a/obama-isms.htm
(Only an enlighted despot had the balls to loudly proclaim that stealing money is okay, as long as you put it to a good use. How Machiavellian)

And the all time winner must be Queen Pelosi's approach to health care reform:
“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
http://blogs.dailymail.com/donsurber/archives/10427
(Translate: you citizens are too dumb to understand what I do, so shut up and let me run the country into bankruptcy. Then you can have it back.)
liljp617
standready wrote:
Are we now better informed - NO! How can we be when the politicians tell us what they think we want to hear then do whatever benefits themselves without regard to what the people they supposedly represent want.


Because there are many, many sources beyond political speeches that are full of information, and those sources are easily and widely accessible to most people (i.e. the Internet). Do you truly get your information solely from the mouths of politicians, or even solely through mainstream US media networks?
ocalhoun
liljp617 wrote:
Do you truly get your information solely from the mouths of politicians, or even solely through mainstream US media networks?

I personally do not...
But I suspect a large portion of the population does.
deanhills
I still have not seen feedback on whether you think the Government is a Republic or a Democracy? I'm curious to hear what your views are on "Republic" and "Democracy" with regard to the United States, particularly since the founding fathers apparently were thinking along Republic and not Democracy lines.
Voodoocat
Definitely republic. Our founding fathers witnessed first hand the oppression inherent with a monarchy, and understood that mass chaos would be the result of pure democracy. Wisely, they opted for a blend of the two: a democratic republic. Citizens vote for their representatives who then act on the citizenries' behalf to enact laws. This battle rages on as evidenced by the recent brouhaha over Obamacare and other State's rights issues.

I, for one, am in favor of a small central government bolstered by stronger state governments. This brings political power closer to home where it belongs.
ocalhoun
Voodoocat wrote:

I, for one, am in favor of a small central government bolstered by stronger state governments. This brings political power closer to home where it belongs.


That pretty much sums it up.
Originally, it was to be a coalition of semi-independent states. It bore more resemblance to today's EU than to the modern US in some ways.

That all changed with the civil war and the Lincoln administration though.
As I'm fond of pointing out, the distinction is even demonstrated in the grammar throughout history. It went from plural (several states that were united) to singular - a single country called 'the united states of america':
Pre civil-war: The United States are...
Post civil-war: The United States is...
It was at that time that the USA ceased to be a group of states working together, and became a single nation, composed of various states.

We still have a few relics of that day hanging around though- such as senate seats being assigned equally to all states, regardless of population.
deanhills
Thanks Voodoocat and Ocalhoun. Both postings were excellent and I learned lots from both. I especially liked the "definitely republic" statement and then this part of Voodoocat's posting:
Quote:
I, for one, am in favor of a small central government bolstered by stronger state governments. This brings political power closer to home where it belongs.
Do you think this is idealistic, or do you think it could be a possibility, especially with the new health care regulations and that state governments could decide that they don't want to participate in it? Or, at most at least test the State Government versus Federal Government boundaries?
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
Or, at most at least test the State Government versus Federal Government boundaries?

There have been some states blatantly challenging those boundaries lately.

Some for the new health care legislation, yes, but that isn't the first.

The best example I'm aware of is Montana's gun laws. According to Montana law, any gun made, sold, and kept within the state's borders is exempt from all federal gun laws. And any federal agent caught attempting for enforce federal gun laws in conflict with the state laws can be jailed and/or fined.

That has been effect for a while now (the anti-federal-enforcement part was added more recently though). Supposedly, it hasn't been challenged in the supreme court yet because the feds are afraid they would lose the case.
Seeing this example, several other states now have similar laws in effect... 4 in total, if I remember correctly.

I'm certainly looking forward to a case like this finally going to the supreme court, as it may give a ruling that tells the federal government to pay attention to its constitutional limitations.
coolclay
You guys hit the nail on the head. Neither democratic nor republic, a hybrid of the 2 is what we have evolved into as a country. It's 100% not what the founding fathers intended. So much of the Declaration of Independence and many other documents through which this country has been founded indicate such including the right to abolish that government which chooses to inhibit such things. One of my favorite Jefferson quotes (of which there are many) is

"Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [i.e., securing inherent and inalienable rights, with powers derived from the consent of the governed], it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

Our country and government as a whole are still so extremely young in the grand scheme of things, and we have changed so much in that little time. The civil war tore this country to pieces economically, physically, and emotionally. Huge changes and decisions were made that we can never change, without starting over at least.
coolclay
You are correct Ocalhoun, but there have been a few cases where the Supreme Court has decided Federal law over state law. In the Gonzales v. Raich case for example the supreme court did not uphold California's "right" to legalize medical marijuana for it's citizens, among others.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
The best example I'm aware of is Montana's gun laws. According to Montana law, any gun made, sold, and kept within the state's borders is exempt from all federal gun laws. And any federal agent caught attempting for enforce federal gun laws in conflict with the state laws can be jailed and/or fined.
Now this is really interesting information, and good for Montana, I admire them for being their "own State"! I can just imagine you moving to Montana for that very reason? Very Happy Do people in Montana who own guns have to register them with the State Government?

Do you have to have your guns licensed in South Dakota? Do you need a special permit for rebuilding guns or re-engineering them or adding special features to them?
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:

Do you have to have your guns licensed in South Dakota? Do you need a special permit for rebuilding guns or re-engineering them or adding special features to them?

Not at all. Most states don't require any kind of license to own guns, only a background check at the time of purchase.
Most states only require licenses for three gun-related things:
concealed carry, selling, and manufacturing/importing.
South Dakota has an amazingly easy concealed carry process, which I've gone through:
-Go to sheriff's office.
-Pay $10, and wait a few minutes for a background check.
-Receive a temporary license within minutes.
-Receive a permanent license in the mail within a few weeks.

I'm a big fan of many of South Dakota's regulations. Whenever possible, they seem to avoid placing restrictions on people. You can carry guns however you want, pretty much anywhere (just don't conceal them without the license, but the license is easy to get). You don't need any kind of vehicle inspections... You can drive ATV's on the road legally... In approved sections of public land, you can cut your own firewood... et cetera.
Licensing for selling, manufacturing, or importing guns is much more difficult and expensive to get though.

Modifying guns though, is mostly unrestricted. The only way to get in trouble there is to make modifications that violate certain federal gun bans- no sawed-off shotguns, no converting to full auto, no converting to explosive projectiles, no converting to calibers larger than .50... If caught with a gun that's been illegally modified in one of those ways, you could be in big trouble.
deanhills
Interesting info Ocalhoun, so I take it you're going to stay in South Dakota for at least another while? Smile
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
Interesting info Ocalhoun, so I take it you're going to stay in South Dakota for at least another while? Smile

Well, South Dakota isn't the only state with liberal* laws... Many other rural states are also agreeable - though I'm sure it would be very difficult to motivate me to move to a highly populated area... and even then, I wouldn't stay long.

*Little 'l' liberal, as in pro-liberty, not as in the opposite of Conservative.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
deanhills wrote:
Interesting info Ocalhoun, so I take it you're going to stay in South Dakota for at least another while? Smile

Well, South Dakota isn't the only state with liberal* laws... Many other rural states are also agreeable - though I'm sure it would be very difficult to motivate me to move to a highly populated area... and even then, I wouldn't stay long.

*Little 'l' liberal, as in pro-liberty, not as in the opposite of Conservative.
I'm not sure that one could ever stereotype or label you Ocalhoun. Sounds as though you are too much of your own person. Smile

I find it great however that people in the United States can move so easily from State to State. That has to be a sign of a democracy? Or a Republic? No limits at the State Borders?
bojanmilojkovic77
there is no "D" about democratic
ocalhoun
bojanmilojkovic77 wrote:
there is no "D" about democratic

Translation anybody?
I don't understand this language at all.
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