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The U.S. is a Democratic Republic

Contrary to the rhetoric from far-right Republicans, the framers of the U.S. Constitution established a democratic republic.

 

Republican argue that the U.S. is a republic and not a democracy. This right-wing position was popularized by the John Birch Society in the 1960s to attack civils rights legislation.[1] It has been resurrected to give cover to extremist who want to maintain dominance and entrenchment of minority rule by far-right Republicans.[2]

 

The right-wing talking point that we are a republic and not a democracy[3],[4] arose to deflect criticism from anti-democratic activities by politicians like Speaker Mike Johnson[5],[6] and their surrogates such as the Heritage Foundation.[7]

 

Their thinking follows a tortured logic that if the U.S. is not a democracy, then criticism of anti-democratic policies (voter suppression, curtailing reproductive freedom, elimininating LGBTQ+ rights) are irrelevant. It is an argument that is not offered in good faith.

 

The U.S. is a democratic republic, also referred to as a representative democracy, as established through the Constitution by the Founding Fathers.[8],[9],[10] In a representative democracy, citizens do not vote directly on laws but freely elect representatives who make those decisions on their behalf.

 

The U.S. is also a constitutional democracy where the roles of government are established by the constitution which also protects the rights and privileges of its citizens.[11],[12]

 

A “republic” does not imply representation of its citizens through freely elected representatives. Nor does it guarantee protection of the rights of the minority. We need look no further than the Republic of North Korea and the Republic of Iran.

 

The extreme right says we’re a republic, not a democracy. Those who beat this broken drum seek to subvert our constitutional institutions and protection of the rights of all citizens.

 

If we are not a democracy, we surely will miss it when it’s gone.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[8] The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Volume 6, starting at Page 109.

 

[9] Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 4, starting at Page 252.

 

 

[Note: this comes from civics education by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services]

 

 

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