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Republic v. Democracy

Blade-of-Truth
Posts: 5,036
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12/4/2014 3:58:56 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
When did America shift from a republic to a democratic nation? I'm talking in terms of systems of government, not the political parties. I'm pretty sure America was a republic to start with, and now is considered a democracy. When, how, and why did this happen?
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joepbr
Posts: 128
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12/4/2014 7:33:12 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 12/4/2014 3:58:56 AM, Blade-of-Truth wrote:
When did America shift from a republic to a democratic nation? I'm talking in terms of systems of government, not the political parties. I'm pretty sure America was a republic to start with, and now is considered a democracy. When, how, and why did this happen?

Republic and democracy aren't mutually exclusive concepts. Republic is, in theory, a system in which power is exercised by people who represents the population of a community and whose rule is legitimized by the acceptance of that population to such a rule, in opposition to the systems in which the ruler represents a dynasty and legitimized by divine right or some other sort of immemorial tradition, in which popular consent is not required. On practice, a republic is any system that isn't a monarchy, which means almost every country in the world (and since in most monarchies the monarch a mere figurehead, the distinction between republic and monarchy has no significant effect in politics).

Democracy is basically the quality of representativity, that is, how much the government is actually responsive to the will of the people. A direct democracy is obviously 100% responsive, since it's directly ruled by the people, unfortunately direct democracies don't exist, so on practice, a democracy is a system in which the political elites dispute power through voting by the population, a system in which those who are the most responsive to the people's will inevitably win power (although this idea is a bit problematic). A democracy require a competitive dispute of power, and therefore, there must be one (or several) opposition to the government, and no one must be constrained to not exercise such opposition, therefore, a functional democracy demands civil rights and liberties.

Basically, a republic is a form of government, that is, a country can be either a republic or a monarchy (there is no other option and you can't classify countries as "more" or "less" republican), while democracy is more of a quality of a government, you can rank countries from most to least democratic and compare the level of democracy between two or more countries.

As for your question, the USA is a republic since it's independence (at least that's what the American constitution says), but it's debatable when it started to be a democracy, I'd say it was actually a gradual process, starting with the abolition of slavery (you can't have a proper democracy if there are people who are property of others and have no rights), then with the adoption of female suffrage (you can't have a government responsive to the people if half of the population can't even vote), and finally with the civil rights (technically suffrage was only entirely universal in the USA after all the systems of discrimination were abolished). But some people would say the USA isn't democratic at all, since the government is much more responsive to the interests of the rich and powerful than to an actual, or even virtual, will of the people.
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Blade-of-Truth
Posts: 5,036
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12/4/2014 4:40:16 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 12/4/2014 7:33:12 AM, joepbr wrote:
At 12/4/2014 3:58:56 AM, Blade-of-Truth wrote:
When did America shift from a republic to a democratic nation? I'm talking in terms of systems of government, not the political parties. I'm pretty sure America was a republic to start with, and now is considered a democracy. When, how, and why did this happen?

Republic and democracy aren't mutually exclusive concepts. Republic is, in theory, a system in which power is exercised by people who represents the population of a community and whose rule is legitimized by the acceptance of that population to such a rule, in opposition to the systems in which the ruler represents a dynasty and legitimized by divine right or some other sort of immemorial tradition, in which popular consent is not required. On practice, a republic is any system that isn't a monarchy, which means almost every country in the world (and since in most monarchies the monarch a mere figurehead, the distinction between republic and monarchy has no significant effect in politics).

Democracy is basically the quality of representativity, that is, how much the government is actually responsive to the will of the people. A direct democracy is obviously 100% responsive, since it's directly ruled by the people, unfortunately direct democracies don't exist, so on practice, a democracy is a system in which the political elites dispute power through voting by the population, a system in which those who are the most responsive to the people's will inevitably win power (although this idea is a bit problematic). A democracy require a competitive dispute of power, and therefore, there must be one (or several) opposition to the government, and no one must be constrained to not exercise such opposition, therefore, a functional democracy demands civil rights and liberties.

Basically, a republic is a form of government, that is, a country can be either a republic or a monarchy (there is no other option and you can't classify countries as "more" or "less" republican), while democracy is more of a quality of a government, you can rank countries from most to least democratic and compare the level of democracy between two or more countries.

As for your question, the USA is a republic since it's independence (at least that's what the American constitution says), but it's debatable when it started to be a democracy, I'd say it was actually a gradual process, starting with the abolition of slavery (you can't have a proper democracy if there are people who are property of others and have no rights), then with the adoption of female suffrage (you can't have a government responsive to the people if half of the population can't even vote), and finally with the civil rights (technically suffrage was only entirely universal in the USA after all the systems of discrimination were abolished). But some people would say the USA isn't democratic at all, since the government is much more responsive to the interests of the rich and powerful than to an actual, or even virtual, will of the people.

Thank you for your comprehensive and thorough response. I learned alot from it!
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gomergcc
Posts: 60
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12/23/2014 2:36:12 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/4/2014 3:58:56 AM, Blade-of-Truth wrote:
When did America shift from a republic to a democratic nation? I'm talking in terms of systems of government, not the political parties. I'm pretty sure America was a republic to start with, and now is considered a democracy. When, how, and why did this happen?

The cold war. It is still a republic just democracy makes a better sound byte against commission. This a lead so many people not to understand what a democracy really is. They call it direct democracy now.
Atheist-Independent
Posts: 776
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12/23/2014 10:40:57 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/4/2014 3:58:56 AM, Blade-of-Truth wrote:
When did America shift from a republic to a democratic nation? I'm talking in terms of systems of government, not the political parties. I'm pretty sure America was a republic to start with, and now is considered a democracy. When, how, and why did this happen?

We have never had a democracy, know that. The founding fathers didn't trust us to vote on things, that's why things like the electoral college exist.