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.

If you order clothing from catalogues, you usually have to guess at the sizes listed. Sometimes there is a size chart to help you, but is that XL size shirt the same XL size that others use? Knowing the wide range of height and weight variations in people, can we really believe that the phrase “one size fits all” is true? While the manufacturer will make just the one size, the customer often experiences two sizes: too big, or too small. I’ve even started to see some stores print labels stating “one size fits most,” since manufacturers realize that we aren’t all pressed out of the same cookie cutter, as demonstrated by Robert Pershing Wadlow in the picture to the right.

This difference in people is seen in culinary tastes as well. You can see this in the multitude of different restaurants and fast food joints. If our tastes were the same, we could get away with one store offering one kind of food. The one-size-fits-all concept applied to food means everyone gets the bland chicken dinner that is served at catered events. In political circles it is often called the “rubber chicken” dinner, and it will be found in most every dinner get-together where the rule of thumb is “one size fits all.” Pass the Pepto-Bismol and start chugging pink chalk right from the bottle.

It is possible to offer a dinner that will be appreciated by the diners, but only if you offer variety. If there is a choice, some people will want the prime rib, some will want the chicken cordon bleu, some will ask for the salmon, and some will request the vegetarian plate. People with different tastes will be happy if there is a selection from which they may choose.

You can also see this variety of tastes in music. A quick glance at a music store will reveal a wondrous proliferation of genres and titles. My music taste probably isn’t identical to yours, and asking a third person will bring in a third set of tastes. Grab a random sampling of people, and you will be hard-pressed to find something that everyone wants to hear. The most you can realistically hope for is something bland that will offend the least amount of people — the musical equivalent of a rubber chicken dinner.

I am writing this article while eating lunch in the company cafeteria. Looking around at the dozens of people here, I note that no two people are dressed the same way. Obviously, I work at a place that doesn’t require a uniform. For anyone who has ever worn a uniform for work or school, can you honestly say that it was something you looked forward to putting on?

If variety is good in food, music, and clothing, why do we not ask for variety in other aspects of our lives? Some people who demand their own type of music are just as demanding that everyone be educated in one-size-fits-all public schools. Any mention of vouchers, private schools or home schooling is met with resistance. Why is an educational monopoly socially acceptable, while a software monopoly is not?

We live in a republic of 50 states united by a common history and federal government. The Founding Fathers didn’t want an overly-strong federal government calling all the shots. They thought it would be far better to have separate states making their own rules for issues within their borders. This would lead to a multitude of options open to the people. If you don’t like how your state is being run, you can work from within to change it, or you can vote with your feet and leave. A variety of states gives Americans a choice.

Our variety is one reason why our republic is far superior to any socialist or communist government. The one-size-fits-all nature of totalitarianism can never be appreciative or supportive of a society that is composed of a variety of voices and decision makers. No one person, no one group can be as smart as needed to make all the decisions for all the people. It is far better that many, if not most, decisions be made at the local or personal level.

The Soviet Union could not produce the shoes the people needed or wanted because the choice of styles, materials, sizes and amounts were controlled by bureaucrats. Adam Smith’s invisible hand of economics has proven itself far superior to anything the Soviet Union or any other totalitarian state has been able to produce for its people.

One size does not fit all. This is true for one-size-fits-all schools. This is true for Hillary’s one-size-fits-all health care. This is true for one-size-fits-all corporations. And this is true for one-size-fits-all government.

Variety truly is the spice of life.