Imani Burrell 
Member since Jun 2, 2011



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Re: “The Evil of Two Lessers

Ted Rall, Once again, if you would think of yourself as more of a reporter and less of an opiner, perhaps your public would be better served. America the beautiful is NOT a democracy, therefore your entire argument is problematic. Here is a bit of research that you probably should have done for yourself. Imani Burrell

Democracy vs. Republic
Articles - Politics

“I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the republic for which it stands…”
There is a tendency to think of America as a democracy. Sometimes this is explicit, with people saying things to the effect that we need to protect American democracy. At other times, its implicit, with politicians spouting that we should heed the “will of the people,” regardless of how much harm that will might cause.
But the Founding Fathers didn't believe they were establishing a democracy, and, in fact, many references can be found where they expressed fear and even revulsion at the idea of having a democracy. Rather, they were establishing a republic. To be even more precise, they established a constitutional republic.
Democracy (from the Greek for ‘rule by the people”) is the rule of the majority, plain and simple. America’s federal government is not set up this way. We voters do not vote on every piece of legislation that comes up. Rather, we vote for representatives who then vote upon legislation. We vote for a president who is to represent us in the executive branch. This makes us a republic (from the Latin for “concerning the people”). But even that doesn’t describe our government sufficiently. Our representatives are limited in what they can do. They must abide by the United States Constitution. They cannot simply make any law they like, they may only make laws that the Constitution empowers them to make. This makes America a constitutional republic.
You might ask what practical difference it makes. Consider what democratic (i.e., mob) rule would actually mean. It would mean that, as long as you can get 51% of the people to agree on something, it could become law. It does not matter how evil or wrong their belief would be, only that they vote for it. Perhaps 51% of the people believe that the other 49% should give the majority all of their money. In a democracy, this is how it could work. The majority has spoken; therefore, it would be the law.
Such circumstances would be only slightly less possible in a straight republic. In such a case, all those 51% would need to do is make sure that they elect their representatives to office, and the same end would be achieved.
But what about a constitutional republic? Ah, here, especially with the American Constitution, we have a different story. Here, we have protections. Now we have safeguards against the rule of the mob. While it may still be possible for evil laws to be enacted, it is much more difficult to do so.
Let’s be more specific. Let’s consider unpopular speech. You have something to say, but the majority of the voters don’t like what you have to say, and they would, if they could, prevent you from saying it. How can they do this? Without getting into all of the details, elected representatives can’t simply make a law that prevents you from saying your unpopular idea. The Constitution prevents that, and the Constitution supersedes any law that representatives might make. They would have to change the Constitution, which is possible, but to do so, they need the agreement of more than just a democratic majority, even within the representatives. They need two-thirds of the representatives to agree that the Constitution should be changed. If they can agree to this, the change still needs to be ratified. Each individual state legislature votes on this, and if the legislature has a simple majority, that state has ratified the amendment. If three-fourths of the states do this, the amendment is passed. Getting that much agreement would be much more difficult.
The Constitution protects us from the rule of the mob. This is what makes a constitutional republic better than a democracy or a straight republic. With a constitutional republic, our rights and liberties are far more solid than in either of the other two forms of government.
Note, however, that they aren’t completely solid. If we don’t keep watch over the representatives, they have little incentive (other than, perhaps, their own consciences) to abide by the constitutional limits. In this sense, we do live in a democracy, if we take that to mean simply the Greek translation. We, the people rule, if we decide to.
This is an edited version of the article by .

Posted by Imani Burrell on 06/02/2011 at 2:45 PM

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