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April 16, 2003

A Republic is a Democracy

Democracy is when people have equal votes. But in the US it wouldn't be practical to have all 280 million people vote on every single law. So we elect representatives to do the voting on our behalf. Those representatives are US, state, county, and city congressmen, mayors, commissioners, etc. They are all elected to pass the laws so that citizens don't have to worry about learning about every law.

This system is called a representative democracy or "republic". The system itself is still considered to be a democratic system, but the form of government is called a republic. That's why the pledge of allegience says "and to the republic for which it stands". If you look at the definition of democracy (below) it says that a democracy is through the people directly or through elected representatives. So the US is a democracy and a republic. But a lot of know-it-alls will correct people who say that the US is a democracy and say we are not a democracy but a republic. In fact, we are a democracy.

Here's what my dictionary says:

democracy (d??-m??k??re-s??) noun plural democracies
1.'' Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
2.'' A political or social unit that has such a government.
3.'' The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.
4.'' Majority rule.
5.'' The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.

republic (r??-p??b??l??k) noun Abbr. rep., Rep., Repub.
1.'' a. A political order whose head of state is not a monarch and in modern times is usually a president. b. A nation that has such a political order.
2.'' a. A political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who are entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them. b. A nation that has such a political order.
3.'' Often Republic. A specific republican government of a nation: the Fourth Republic of France.
4.'' An autonomous or partially autonomous political and territorial unit belonging to a sovereign federation.
5.'' A group of people working as equals in the same sphere or field: the republic of letters.

The American Heritage?? Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright ?? 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from InfoSoft International, Inc. All rights reserved.