Too often I hear some elected official saying that the United States is a democracy. But we are not. The U.S. is a representative republic. The founding fathers were smart enough to realize that a democracy is inherently inefficient and unstable. Do you really want every American to vote on every item that comes up before government? That’s a democracy. And once the majority of the people realize that they can vote money away from the minority, then that democracy is doomed and will shortly implode.
We are a republic because we vote for people to represent us in government. The founding fathers didn’t want the people to vote directly on bills; that is why they created the Constitution the way they did. The President is not elected by the people; the people vote for electors to the Electoral College, and they vote for the President. And the citizens of each district vote for their representative in the House, and the state legislatures used to select people to be Senators. This way there were Representatives who were in touch with the common people, and Senators who were in touch with the needs of the states. With the arrival of the 17th Amendment in 1913, Senators became elected by the people of the states, and so they became populist puppets like the Representatives and had less to do with representing their states.
But our elected officials continue to talk as if we lived in a democracy. I don’t know if they do it because it is easier to say “democracy” than it is to say “representative republic,” or if they honestly don’t know the difference. President Obama and his aides are guilty of this, as reported by ForeignPolicy.com:
President Obama said Sunday that the United States is still “working on” democracy and a top aide said he has taken “historic steps” to improve democracy in the United States during his time in office.
The remarks came as Obama met with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev — one of the U.S. president’s many meetings with world leaders ahead of this week’s nuclear summit.
The published press briefing at the White House identified the “top aide” identity: Mike McFaul, Senior Director for Russia and the Caucasus.
Q Hi, this is for Mike McFaul. When you were discussing the discussion between President Nazarbayev and President Obama about human rights and democracy, you seemed to be suggesting there was some equivalence between their issues of democracy and the United States’ issues, when you said that President Obama assured him that we, too, are working on our democracy. Is there equivalence between the problems that President Nazarbayev is confronting and the state of democracy in the United States?
MR. McFAUL: Absolutely not, Jonathan. To be clear, what the President was saying is that all democracies need to work to improve their democracies. And he’s taken, I think, rather historic steps to improve our own democracy since coming to office here in the United States. There was no equivalence meant whatsoever.
Really? Historic steps? Fine, Mr. McFaul: name three historic steps taken by President Obama to improve our own democracy.
Can anyone name three? I sure can’t, so I contacted the White House asking for three examples. I’ll post whatever response I get back.