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
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. 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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