A Democratic Conundrum


I used the term “republic” in a recent post and it apparently confused some people.  The United States of America is a republic, not a democracy as so many of our elected legislators  seem to believe.  In fact, the word “democracy” does not appear in either the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence.

First of all, what is a democracy? It’s essentially majority rule. Then, what is a republic? A republic is a form of government which has constitutionally protected rights.  No matter how great the majority, elected officials must still uphold the constitutionally protected rights of the minority.  Republics actually protect the rights of minority groups whereas democracies may not.

While we are a nation, we are also a group of individual states. These states voluntarily came together with the proviso that each state gets representation in the federal government.  It’s a system of checks and balances with different representation rules for presidential elections, the House of Representatives and the Senate. That’s how we got the Electoral College which is used in presidential elections.

The Electoral College has come under fire recently because it is deemed by some to be undemocratic. Well if we were a democracy, then I would absolutely agree.  Of course, we’re not…we’re a republic.  Under our representative form of government, which was established by the founding fathers, each state gets to vote in the presidential election based on the voting results within their respective states.

It’s intentional that a candidate may not win the presidential election even if they win the popular vote.  Of course, this can only happen if they win the popular vote by a very slim margin. Otherwise, the results of the Electoral College and the popular vote will always be the same.  The reason that this possibility was built into the Electoral College is to provide representation for each state and to keep the country from being governed by someone who may have gotten just one more vote than someone else.

Yes, we are not a democracy. However, keep in mind that if we were a democracy, then the majority could pass any law with the slimmest of margins and minority groups would have no say.  Perhaps, you might even be in that minority.  What then?



If we have a strong message, if we’re speaking to what the American people care about, typically the popular vote and the Electoral College vote will align.”  – Barack Obama





5 Responses to “A Democratic Conundrum”

  1. The Wolf With The Keyboard said

    I love the way you preach your philosophy brother! I really do believe that it is truth that will guide the modern man into a new golden age.

  2. Nan said

    Typically, Mr. Obama. But unfortunately, not always.

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