Posted by Melmac on November 16, 2000 at 04:52:18:
In Reply to: Re: Is the USA democratic ? posted by alfie kane on November 16, 2000 at 01:38:41:
OK, allow me to address your questions more specifically.
1. "do u consider that the republic of ireland is NOT a democracy!!"
No, technically, Ireland is not a democracy, but a republic, as are most governments commonly referred to as democracies. Republic is not a bad word, it simply defines a form of government, in which the populace surrenders the exercise of control, of the governing process, to elected officials, who in turn make the decisions that govern the nation.
2. "is it not the case, that in a federal system, as USA or (possibly) EU, certain safeguards are required for the smaller constituent
states, like the "mid-western" states in USA or Republic of Ireland in EU."
Possibly so, but the "safeguards do not make the smaller states equal in power to the larger states, although they may have the effect of appearing to do so.
3. "I think the "Founding Fathers" were very far-seeing."
4. "We must remember that this system has evolved over 200 years, and any changes MUST be by way of constitutional
amendment, which is very DEMOCRATIC."
Here I must disagree. You misinterpret the meaning of democracy. The Constitutional Amendment process, defined in Article V, of the US Constitution, is not a representation of democratic government, it is an example of the republican form of government. The entire process in in the control of the US Congress, an/or the legislatures of the states, not the people themselves. There is no direct involvement of the citizens.
Again, democracy means the DIRECT involvement of the citizenry, a republican form of governnment involves the election of representatives by the people who take over the task of governing (without the direct participation of the people). There is a difference.
5. "u did not really address the points i raised, instead u gave definations from that font of all wisdom "merriam webster"."
We have to begin with the definitions, as there is a need to understand the difference, between the two terms.
6. ""supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives
responsible to them"
this seems both practical and democratic, in that the people vote, and choose their representatives a la "representative
Republicanism is, by somewhat circuitous definition, "representative democracy". But, in fact, democracy is the direct control of government by the people. In other words, the people have the right and responsibility to vote DIRECTLY on the laws, of the land. In a republic, we assign that right to our representatives and have no direct control over legislation.
7. "your interpretation of the defination of democracy seems to leave out the bit about "exercised by them directly or indirectly
through a system of representation" which seems pretty close to a "democratic" republic."
In both forms of government, the "power" of government resides in the citizenry. The difference is in the "exercise" of power. In a true democracy, the exercise of power lies in the citizenry itself, OR is delegated to elected officials, who do the citizens bidding. In a republic, the exercise of power is in the control of the elected officials, who do not have to do the bidding of the citizens. There is a difference, however fine.
8. "how exactly would u see the democratic system u envisage actually function as a system of government?"
I don't. If you re-read my comnmments, you will find I say nothing of the kind. A true democracy is far too cumbersome a system to function in any but the smallest political divisions. A true democracy demands of its citizens, total participation in all the decision making processes, a wholly impractical situation in modern times.
9. "is it not true to say that a republic is completely compatible with democratic principles, when it also involves "periodically held
Perhaps, but "only" if the elections are to elect persons who do the specific bidding of the citizens, but not when the elections are to elect representatives who are not directly controlled by the citizens. In a true "democratic republic" form of government, the citizens would have the right and responsibility to vote on all issues and the representatives would merely be assigned the duty of carrying out the wishes of the citizenry, as determined by the popular vote, on the issues.
The exercise of true democracy is the direct and absolute control of the citizens over all facets of government. Republicanism is the transfer of the "exercise" of power, (but not the ultimate power) to the representatives, who in turn make the everyday decisions of government.
In both systems, the ultimate power resides in the citizenry. In true democracy, the "exercise" of that power is under the direct control of the people, in republicanism, the "exercise" of power is relegated to the elected representatives.
I do hope this clears things up.
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