Open Republic

A Republic is a country that is ruled by its people, usually a vast majority that will contribute to the directing of the country in favor of the majority’s preference. This form of government has been seen repeated over and over throughout history. The United States is considered a constitutional republic where in representatives are elected then govern within the constitutional laws. Because these officials and representatives have to stay within predetermined constitutional laws and are elected to the position rather that inheriting it, the United States is a constitutional republic. However there is often some confusion considering today a republic is often referred to a country that does not practice direct democracy. In the United States the form of democracy that is utilized is representative democracy, in which the government is controlled through its officials that are elect by the people. So is the United States a republic or a democracy? A republic and an democracy have mainly one differentiating factor, the authority to rule is bestowed on one person in a republic and a group of people in a democracy.

editor’s note: we received the following comment on this subject from professor Rollin Jacoby, editor Legalese

The simple difference between a republic and a democracy is the rule of law. While on the surface a democracy seems to be the ideal, in fact it has a harmful side effect. What happens when the majority wants to do something that harms those who disagree? The solution is viable because we are a republic, not a democracy. If the majority chose to do something against the law, the law should prevail in a republic. In a pure democracy, the majority would always get its way. Even with a representative democracy where the people elect representatives like we do in the United States, we are technically a republic because of the sanctity of the law. In fact it’s the reason our rights are protected. It protects minorities from being harmed by the majority.

And what happens if you are harmed by a majority decision? If the rule of law is paramount, you have recourse via the justice system. The ultimate issue is rights and your ability to control your destiny. Control is key, and is something we surrender only when there are no other options. It’s part of our everyday lives – like the internet, golf, or the language we use toward each other. If needed you can obtain control over your finances by responsibly managing your money, taking care not to make risky investments or to overuse the option for a cash advance often offered by lenders to people in need. But what if the majority wants to make that activity unlawful or to create burdens, like taxes, on participants? In many respects, laws that help protect us, even from ourselves can be used to remove control from us as well. If I can’t take advantage of an investment without a cash advance or a margin account, I lose the ability to control my destiny. Especially dangerous if the majority agrees with denying me these rights. Same is true in my own home: I (acting on behalf of the majority) may want to impose controls over how my kids spend their allowance for their own good (they don’t see it that way), but if you want control over the actions of your government, a republic offers both the rule of law and protection against injustice caused by the majority.

And not all US laws are compatible with my lifestyle – in many ways European laws are more friendly and reasonable. A couple of months ago I was on a business trip that took me to New York City. From my hotel room’s large circular window I could see the Empire State building’s iconic silhouette. There I was, sitting in a comfortable chair playing US slots online at my favorite casino. I was having fun, losing some money and winning some at online gambling with the Empire State Building sitting square center in the window frame, blocking out most of the city’s skyline. How cool was that? I think the stunning rainbow hues of the lights on the Empire State Building must have had some special magical properties since I actually won a significant mount of money at the progressive slot game I was playing. The next day I was planning on going to the observation deck on the Empire State building and use one of the telescopes to see if I can find my hotel window! I’ve been told that there are not specific laws banning online gambling in NYS. On the other hand, I think I’ll have my winnings go to a bank in Europe where I have an account.

Democracy is the word we all think we know so well, but the drawbacks to a pure democracy are significant. Minorities must sometimes be offered protection from the control of the majority.

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