Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Democratic Republic or a Big Fat Lie

Fellow philosopher. Dennis, who blogs at Spanky's Speculations, writes a nice response to the position in the comments section, which held that the U.S. is a "supposed to be a representive republic, not a democracy." Dennis says:

"A democracy is a form of government in which the public wields the biggest share of political authority, and exercises it either directly or through representatives. We are a republic (a form of government in which representatives lead on behalf of the people) and we are also a democracy. Whenever someone says we are a republic but not a democracy, I cringe, because it means they've missed something crucial to the American way of life. We are, and have always been, a democratic republic, just as the founding fathers intended.

The last sentence in the Gettysburg Address is this: "It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

It is from the "democratic" part of the equation that we have that concept--a government of, by and for the people. A republic that isn't democratic need only be a government for the people. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics demonstrated that the concept of individual freedom isn't crucial to a republican form of government, either. Yes, Virginia, we are a republic, but that can never, ever be all that we are. We're a democratic republic, or we're a big, fat lie."