Monday, January 25, 2010

American Republic

Alan stopped by a few nights ago and mentioned for the second or third time that he thought Deneen was wrong to write the following:
Mr. Dionne certainly knows that this nation was founded not as a democracy but as a republic.

I'm still not quite sure what Alan's objection is because for all I can tell is that our government is a republic. It certainly ain't Athenian direct democracy. Ben Franklin notably called it a republic, and wondered if we could keep it.

Republics and democratic government aren't some sort of dichotomy. Republics can be more or less democratic. Ours certainly is more democratic than Republican Rome.

Our government is democratic, but it is most surely a republic and not a democracy. America is a republic in that it isn't a direct democracy. Moreover, there were and are various checks and balances (the federal system, bicameral legislature, division of powers between the three branches) that further constrain and impede pure democratic forces. So, I'm not quite sure what Alan's objection is.


Anonymous said...

It was certainly interesting for me to read this article. Thanks for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to them. BTW, why don't you change design :).

rahowe said...

Good news. I expect approval to direct one of my last essays this semester toward the very patriotic and necessary goal of crushing statement's like Daneen.


rahowe said...

Speaking of crushing...

Syracuse "Orangemen" - 73
Georgetown "What Rocks" - 56

The Ancient said...

Isn't the crisis in California's budget largely the result of substituting "Athenian direct democracy" (in the form of referenda that allow people to vote themselves benefits while cutting their own taxes) for various contingent outcomes from a genuine republican government?

P.S. I am sick to death of the idea of "Athenian democracy." In practice, it was much more like "the tyranny of the feckless, every-changing majority of those who showed up that day." Ask Socrates.

P.P.S. Just because the previous remark sounds like something recently issued by the White House press office doesn't make it wrong.

George Pal said...

I don’t know what Alan was getting at but I know what I’d get at.

Notwithstanding the institutions and framework you mention as representing our republican form, something has gone awry - Federalism, for example, is a joke. Representatives cannot be said to be acting in the people’s interest if they bankrupt the people. Such an outcome would be more likely in a democracy, democracies being more susceptible to our lower natures. And I’m not at all certain the denaturing of the republic, however it might have come about, is finished.

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