The United States is a democratic republic
, which does make it a type of democracy; but not a pure
democracy (which is otherwise known
as "mob rule").
The Founding Fathers hated the idea of a pure
democracy as much as they hated the idea of a dictatorship; as Benjamin Franklin said in 1787,
near the beginning of the Contsitutional Convention, "A pure democracy is four wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner." In a pure democracy,
anything goes, no matter how aborrent it may be, as long as 51% of the people approve of it. (In other words, there's no minority protection of any
kind -- and minorities aren't just races, or religions, they're also subcultures, economic groups, etc. -- in a pure democracy.) Also, every single
law would have to be passed by popular vote, which would be inefficient at best, and impossible at worst.
In a pure
republic, people from different parts of a country meet to make the laws in a legislature. A republic by no means has to be
democratic; history is full of undemocratic republics -- in these cases, the legislature members are appointed, not elected.
The genius in putting the two together into a democratic republic
is that you end up with a democracy that can run fairly smoothly (you elect
representatives to represent you at the national legislature and vote on every single law that comes up; if you don't like the decisions they make,
you can elect someone else to take their place next term) but has minority protection at the same time.
I think the writers of the U.S. Constitution were social science geniuses ahead of their time
, and the fact that the U.S. is still a free and
prosperous country, depsite all the trials and tribulations that this country has been through, is evidence of that.
Of course, "liberty and
justice for all" is never as simple as a document and a rule book; it will never be perfect as long as human nature isn't perfect -- but as long as
we work towards that perfect goal, however impossible that may be, and progress -- then we know we're doing the right thing.
, the United States is not
an empire -- an empire is a conquerer by nature, absorbing other countries into itself and using those
countries (by controlling their governments) to produce for the mother country alone. You can't equate sphere of influence with empire! The U.S. may
be one of a small group of nations who have a global sphere of influence right now, but last time I checked, all U.S. allies (and enemies!) were all
sovereign nations. There's also a huge
difference between being an ally, and being a puppet state
; just ask the nations of Eastern
Europe (especially Poland), who were "allies" of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and are U.S. allies now...
A democratic republic naturally functions best when it has a free market (though it can be regulated). A democratic republic with a restricted market
(where the government runs most or all industries and businesses) will choke itself to death with corruption eventually, and a dictatorship with a
free market is a contradiction in itself, an impossibility.
I'm not saying by any means that the U.S. is perfect; I'm well aware of the fact that the U.S., like every other country on Earth
, has a dark
side to its past as well -- the scourge of slavery, open discrimination against blacks and women in the past, etc. -- but, like any good country, the
U.S. owns up to its mistakes, fixes them, and moves on. As Winston Churchill once said, "Democracy is the worst form of government known to man...
That is, until you consider the alternatives."
[edit on 7/20/2004 by ThunderCloud]