General Question

ESV's avatar

Why when going around the city asking people what type of government America is they answer Democracy?

Asked by ESV (468 points ) June 12th, 2009 from iPhone

When we’re Constitutional Republic.
Are these people in the matrix not knowing it or something ?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

27 Answers

Ivan's avatar

Another term for “constitutional republic” is “representative democracy.” There are no true democracies. When the word “democracy” is used in political science, this is what it’s referring to.

oratio's avatar

@ESV Your avatar… Is that the blue pill?

DarkScribe's avatar

You ask what kind of government America is?

It isn’t a Government, it is a country. Are you in that “Matrix” that you mentioned?

noyesa's avatar

Technically we’re a federal constitutional republic, if you want to get pedantic about it, a distinction made obvious by the US’ first constitution, the Articles of Confederation. A democracy is inherently a republic, since our head of state is voted in. There are many types of democracy, but democracy is such a core value to Americans that I’m not at all shocked by the response. I guess it’s a little self-righteous to say our government is the definition of democracy, but it is at the very least the most prominent and iconic one.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

Form trumps substance. We are neither a democracy or a republic. We are an elected dictatorship and an oligarchy. A constitutional republic is a contract government. Unfortunately we have no way of enforcing the contract except hope and people willing to waste their lives in public service to enforce it. Currently that contract is no longer being used except when convenient to the oligarchy.

DarkScribe's avatar

@noyesa I guess it’s a little self-righteous to say our government is the definition of democracy, but it is at the very least the most prominent and iconic one.

You might find a few very old Greeks who will take exception to that claim.

Bri_L's avatar

When ever anyone goes around asking something of the general population that they are more specifically informed on they will most likely get answers like that.

When we study our government the most in our youth we are taught it is a Democracy, that is to say it is “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives”. But then, semantics, and beliefs and all the rest get figured into it.

People say they ran out of memory on their computer all the time when they really mean is disc space.

FiRE_MaN's avatar

because people misuse the word democracy all the time. We live in a REPUBLIC country or it can also be called an indirect democracy as my former history teacher said it.

YARNLADY's avatar

@oratio that avatar looks like the top view of a jellyfish to me

critter1982's avatar

AKA democratic republic.

Jack79's avatar

“democracy” is a loose informal term. In fact, “republic” is just the latin equivalent of the same word. People often also attach positive/negative connotations to words. “Tyrrany” was a great new system when it was first imposed. People were thrilled! lol

ubersiren's avatar

That’s what we’ve been “trained” since grade school to call it because it’s just the easiest label to give it. Most people end up believing it. It’s more like a ‘democratic republic.’

Darwin's avatar

What @ubersiren said. If you write anything else on the test form, unless you are taking AP US History, it will be marked wrong. Besides, for most Americans, many of whom can’t be bothered to actually vote, it doesn’t really matter. They just know it isn’t communism (although they equate socialism with communism).

ubersiren's avatar

@Darwin : EXACTLY. I remember being so patriotic as a kid… no land was as great as the US because we were a democracy and the rest of the world was either communist, monarchy, or wild bushmen with no civilized order.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@walterallenhaxton “Waste their lives in public service”

Ensuring certain freedoms for millions of people is wasting one’s life?
Buddy, you should be thanking some public servants for doing the things you feel you’re Too Good for.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 The problem is not the individuals that work for freedom like Ron Paul. The problem is that we have little left and it is going fast. Maybe the good Doctor will turn it around. I doubt one man can do it though.

Jack79's avatar

@ubersiren kids always see things a little more simplistic and enjoy things such as parades (all the fireworks on the 4th of July and so on). My daughter is like that too.

I don’t know how old you are, but I was quite pro-American as a kid too, because it was a choice of either Rambo or evil KGB spies who ate children for breakfast. Growing up during the Cold War left no choice, and everyone had to take a stance against what we conceived to be our common enemy. Now that this threat is over, many people in the western world have started to criticise our own system of government and values.

Personally, having lived in several former Communist countries, I can see what the faults of capitalism have been, and how it has negatively affected those who opted for it. But I still think it’s better than the alternative. Not that much better, but better for sure.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@ubersiren I think our system has been steered drifted in the direction of your third option over the course of the last administration.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@Jack79 All government is tyranny for at least some people. Only by limiting the size of government can we limit the size of it’s tyranny.

juwhite1's avatar

Democratic and republic are not synonymous. Democratic means rule by the people. Republic means rule by representatives of the people. Because we blend those two ideas (everyone gets to vote on officials, state laws, etc., but only the elected officials get to vote on federal laws), we are called a democratic republic. We are certainly a constitutional republic, and our core government was set up to function as a republic, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we are also a democratic society. I think the issue is that we focus so much on the democracy aspect in our educational system that we sometimes fail to educate our youth on the fact that our nation is a republic… After all, China is also a republic, and we wouldn’t want to confuse the kids and make them think we might have something in common with China! ;-)

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@juwhite1 Of course not. They are increasing their freedom over there and we are eliminating it as fast as they can pass more laws. More regulations coming.
By the way. The Constitution is a contract with no enforcer. It is no longer in effect. Only the myth that it is moderates what politicians do. A myth for protection is not much.

noyesa's avatar

@walterallenhaxton Are you trying to answer a question, or make your own point?

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@noyesa I was responding to your comment. It is called democracy because that is what is taught in the state run schools. Democracy means rule by the majority of the moment. A very bad way to run things. A republic is planned to run according to a contract. Ours was destroyed in the Civil War.
We still have the forms. We also have the forms of democracy. We are an oligarchy run by imperialists.

noyesa's avatar

@walterallenhaxton No no, not that, the nonsense about Ron Paul, people “wasting their lives”, and implying that enforcement of the constitution is merely a myth.

juwhite1's avatar

@Walterallenhaxton – Actually, the Supreme Court is the enforcer of the Constitution, but I guess since the justices are made up of people hand selected by politicians, you make and excellent point.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@juwhite1 I think that some states are starting to realize that they too are enforcers of the constitution and had better start tending to that job.

musicman997's avatar

Our leaders call us “the greatest democracy in the world”, so naturally that’s what the people think we are, a democracy. Even though we are a republic, a representative government, I hold no discord to those who would describe us as a democracy. It has a better patriotic, freedom bearing ring to it than republic. I think of ancient Rome every time I hear republic ha.

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