I know you’ve heard your entire life about our “democracy.” I hate to be a nitpicker, but we are not, nor have we ever been, a democracy. We are a republic. You’ll note that we pledge allegiance to the flag, and “to the republic for which it stands,” not the democracy. But “democracy” is used so much by presidents and candidates that it’s become almost interchangeable with “republic.” Almost.
What prompted me to make this important distinction was an interview on Fox News with a supposed political science professor from the University of North Carolina. He made the outrageous claim that North Carolina is no longer a democracy because Republicans seem to have a lock on the general assembly. Forget that the new governor is a Democrat, somehow North Carolina’s political system is now akin, according to this professor, to “Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone.” The good professor apparently still suffers from Post-Trump Stress Disorder.
Where has the professor’s outrage been? Last century North Carolina had exactly two Republican governors. When Republicans took over the general assembly in 2010, it was the first time they had done so since 1870. It seems that “democracy” is only in peril when Republicans are in charge, not when Democrats have a 140-year lock on the general assembly.
Of course, the epicenter of the professor’s discontent is the transgender bathroom bill that requires people to use the public bathroom in state-controlled buildings that aligns with their plumbing. I know. Ridiculous, huh? The fact that a university political science professor thinks we’re a democracy gives us all a special glimpse into the mindset of liberal academia. Basically, they prefer mob rule to a representative republic.
So, what’s the difference between and democracy and a republic? A democracy has been described as two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. In a republic, the individual is sovereign. The sovereignty in a democracy is in the group.
This is one of the prime drivers behind abolishing the Electoral College. It doesn’t seem fair to those with a mob mentality that the lamb should be protected from the wolves. In the founding fathers’ infinite wisdom, they foresaw the stronger, densely populated areas running roughshod over the smaller states, so they built in a little extra strength for the smaller states to fend off the wolves.
Time was when you never heard a president refer to the United States as a democracy. That changed under the great progressive of the early 20th century, Woodrow Wilson. Henceforth, presidents have increasingly used “democracy” in place of “republic.” Our founders most assuredly knew the difference and frequently warned of sliding into a democracy.
Alexander Hamilton said, “If we incline too much to democracy we shall soon shoot into a monarchy, or some other form of dictatorship.” He cautioned in his last letter that “our real disease is democracy.”
Thomas Jefferson said, “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule.” John Adams begged us “remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.” James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers that democracies “have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”
The Constitution declares, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”
Benjamin Franklin was asked after the Constitutional Convention what type of government was chosen. “A Republic,” he said ominously, “if you can keep it.”