Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government Education United States Your Rights Online

Utah To Teach USA is a Republic, Not a Democracy 1277

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the only-two-of-three-wives-agree dept.
0ryan0 writes "Utah lawmakers passed a bill today to force public school teachers to teach that the USA is a republic, not a democracy, because a 'Democracy' would have 'Democrat' in it." The good news must be that all issues of unemployment, finance and social service must be resolved in Utah for their legislature to spend time on this. It must be a utopia!
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Utah To Teach USA is a Republic, Not a Democracy

Comments Filter:
  • editorialize much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by X_Bones (93097) <danorz13.yahoo@com> on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @09:39AM (#35429308) Homepage Journal
    because a "Democracy" would have "Democrat" in it.

    This is completely unsupported by the linked article. Either include the proper links to back up your statements, or stop editorializing in your submissions.
  • by itsdapead (734413) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @09:45AM (#35429432)

    From TFA:

    HB220 would require schools to teach students that the U.S. is a compound constitutional republic and about other forms of government such as pure democracy, monarchy and oligarchy along with political philosophies and economic systems such as socialism, individualism and free-market capitalism.

    Is it just me, or does that sound a just a little bit more defensible than the spin in the summary?

  • Re:Technically... (Score:3, Informative)

    by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @09:46AM (#35429454)

    No, they're not right. We are a representative democracy or a democratic republic. As in we have a representative government, but we vote for the representatives. A nation as large as the US does not function with direct democracy. There's just way too many issues for everybody to vote on everything the way that they do in some smaller countries.

  • by countertrolling (1585477) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @09:48AM (#35429496) Journal

    .. and just as important, and relevant to Slashdot readers, if not more so..

    The governor signed a bill to limit access to government records [sltrib.com]...

    Now, I really don't give a shit what happens in Utah, but we should demand that all their representatives are removed from all national committees in Congress. His name is unmentionable..

  • Re:More Accurate? (Score:5, Informative)

    by chrb (1083577) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @09:49AM (#35429514)

    a democracy is where everyone makes every decision

    Wrong. What you're thinking of is direct democracy [wikipedia.org]. Contrast that with, say, representative democracy [wikipedia.org].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @09:49AM (#35429520)

    I was suprised to find that you are right about TFA.

    Then. . .

    But on Monday, Senate floor sponsor Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain, said in some states children are being indoctrinated in socialism via some curriculum.

    “This is happening at least in some places in our country, so I believe this is all the more important in this state, so that we can protect our children from such curriculum,” Madsen said.

    Ah, yes. That's the stuff.

  • Re:Technically... (Score:2, Informative)

    by PaladinAlpha (645879) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @09:58AM (#35429674)

    A representative democracy with constitutional limitations to protect the individual is the very DEFINITION of a republic. Do some reading.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:00AM (#35429716) Journal
    The quotation from the Bill's sponsor sure does its best to make the case that the(technically correct) assertion that the US is a republic is being (re)emphasized in the school curriculum by special intervention of the state legislature for reasons other than a learned concern for the dissemination of accurate information...

    "But on Monday, Senate floor sponsor Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain, said in some states children are being indoctrinated in socialism via some curriculum. “This is happening at least in some places in our country, so I believe this is all the more important in this state, so that we can protect our children from such curriculum,” Madsen said."

    Yo, Mark, I love that supporting evidence there. I can definitely see how having the legislature intervene to insure that politically sensitive issues are handled in a doctrinally correct manner will save the kiddies from socialism. Perhaps we can appoint a Political Commissar for each classroom, to make sure that our freedom remains ideologically pure?
  • Re:More Accurate? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Smurf (7981) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:01AM (#35429724)

    We're going to ignore the fact that this is more accurate, as a democracy is where everyone makes every decision, which is impractical on any large scale, while a republic is where we elect people to make decisions for us.

    I know that they brainwashed you in school to believe that, but I would rather believe the New Oxford American Dictionary (emphasis mine):

    democracy |dimäkrs|
    noun ( pl. -cies)
    a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives (...)

    Or Merriam Webster [merriam-webster.com]:

    democracy noun \di-mä-kr-s\
    plural democracies
    Definition of DEMOCRACY
    1
    a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
    b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections (...)

    Or other popular but authoritative sources of information on the definition of words [reference.com]:

    democracy
    [dih-mok-ruh-see] Show IPA
    –noun, plural -cies.
    1.
    government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. (...)

    Regardless of that, it must be noted that the article makes no mention of Utah making the decision because "democracy" suggests a relation to the "Democratic" party.

  • by shess (31691) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:02AM (#35429758) Homepage

    The article quotes a supporter:

    "But on Monday, Senate floor sponsor Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain, said in some states children are being indoctrinated in socialism via some curriculum."

    They're making an entire law without backing up their statements over there, I bet that will have more ramifications than an editorializing slashdot submitter.

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:09AM (#35429862)
    I'm glad you know so much about 1st century CE Palestine, because there's an awful lot of people who need putting straight.

    Sarcasm aside, Jesus's father was a carpenter who could afford to travel. He was a solid middle-class citizen, therefore. And this being in Israel, not the majority of the Middle East, being a solid middle class citizen meant that your son learnt to read. We are talking here about a culture that elevated the printed word to a very high level, not one like Rome that tried to reserve literacy to the Patrician class.

    In addition, the NT does not describe Jesus as a god, nor did he claim to be (or the Gospels wouldn't have got written.)

    Personally, I'm a complete agnostic theologically, but lazy religion-bashing (with the smallest scent of anti-semitism) still annoys me.

  • Re:Technically... (Score:5, Informative)

    by KarrdeSW (996917) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:12AM (#35429912)
    Actually, we really are just a democracy. Where and when the unmodified term "democracy" got morphed into being interpreted as "direct referendum on practically everything" is unknown to me, but it never was a definition that any state in history actually ever met, even the ancient greeks who it supposedly came from. A democracy is just a broad category meaning a state that conducts free and fair elections for public office and guarantees certain rights to association, speech, etc in its social contract. Actually, in Political science research you normally get the label "democracy" just for having free elections. "Republic" is almost the same word except that the people who 'represent' the governed don't have to be (but usually are) directly chosen in an election.
  • by EraserMouseMan (847479) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:16AM (#35429988)
    It just depends on what level you're referring to. At the state level it is largely majority-rule thus democratic. At the national level, it is not purely democratic style majority rule; it is a Republic form of representation for each state. It is true that all states are Federally organized as equals among each other. But that's more a question of how they are organized not how much voting influence each has.

    All that aside, it's the Democrat party, people. Not the Democratic party.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:23AM (#35430116)

    Jews have always had a pretty large emphasis on being able to read.

    No, they haven't. That's a relatively modern thing, which evolved long after AD 70 (when modern Talmudic Judiasim was effectively born). Country Jews in Jesus's time were nothing like modern Jews.

  • Re:Technically... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:30AM (#35430224)

    Where and when the unmodified term "democracy" got morphed into being interpreted as "direct referendum on practically everything" is unknown to me

    Unknown because the "morphing" never occurred. That is the original meaning of the word.

  • by operagost (62405) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:31AM (#35430256) Homepage Journal
    And Chewbacca was a wookiee on Endor! That just doesn't make sense!
  • Re:Technically... (Score:3, Informative)

    by PaladinAlpha (645879) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:40AM (#35430432)

    Wrong again, Bob.

    From the fucking dictionary [reference.com]:
    1. a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.

    ? This is what I just said. Right up there. I'll quote it for you:

    A representative democracy with constitutional limitations to protect the individual is the very DEFINITION of a republic. Do some reading.

  • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:46AM (#35430534) Homepage

    Assuming that there's any accuracy at all to the stories in the Bible (a big assumption I'll grant you) he was likely literate. He's often called "Rabbi" in the text and has a much greater understanding of the Torah and supporting literature than an illiterate man would be likely to have. Joseph is typically portrayed as a very prosperous carpenter, and a leader in his community. The whole bit with the manger wasn't becasue they couldn't afford a better room, there just weren't any available. Part of the reason it's considered so odd that he makes friends with fisherman, thieves, and laborers is becasue he wasn't one himself.

  • Re:Technically... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Darnitol (1851580) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:55AM (#35430696)
    Oh good grief... does *anyone* remember what they were taught in government in junior high? The Electoral College exists because the President is very specifically NOT elected by the populace. The populace elect our state leaders as well as our Senators and Representatives to the federal government. But the United States is a union of independent states. It is the state governments, NOT the people, who elect the President. The Electoral College is merely the group of people, selected by each state, who cast the state's vote in the Presidential election. Yes, sometimes the elected President did not get the majority of the popular vote. The Electors are not bound by law (in all states) to cast their vote according to popular vote. This is one of the checks and balances, designed by the founders of the nation, that prevents popular will from overcoming individual freedom. We're all taught this in school. Then we get to our first Presidential election and, since it's easier to vote for a man than to look at our ACTUAL Representatives and Senators voting records and cast our votes accordingly, most Americans throw what they were taught out the window and act like we're voting for a monarch. Then we bitch that our leaders aren't responding to our desires... when we didn't even bother to cast intelligent votes for the people whose offices we actually affect.
  • All of the above (Score:5, Informative)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:56AM (#35430706)
    Is the US a republic [wikipedia.org]? Yes.
    Does the US use democracy [wikipedia.org]? Yes.
    Does the US have a constitution [wikipedia.org]? Yes.

    So we're a democratic constitutional republic. Kind of like the thing about passwords, something we are, something we do, and something we have. So of course saying we're a democratic republic or a constitutional republic is also correct, though not as fully informative.

    Saying that we're a republic and not a democracy is false, unless by democracy you actually mean "direct democracy [wikipedia.org]," and twisting words like that as part of an argument to use correct terminology as the Utah lawmakers seem to be trying to do is rather asinine.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:14AM (#35431022)

    Important thing to note. Constitutional governments are one where there is a high binding law, above even the governing bodies, that isn't subject to change in the same manner as other laws. The reason to note it with regards to various governments is when you say a government is "Constitutional," it generally means "Has a functioning constitution that actually places some restrictions on the government." Also republics aren't the only kind of governments that can be as such, there are Constitutional Monarchies and so on.

    But you are correct, the US is a republic, and always has been. There's a very strong democratic tradition in the US, more than many nations and at the state and lower level you see a lot more of that (like people directly voting on propositions) but it is a republic in structure and function.

    One really good example of it that is more concrete to many people is presidential elections. You do NOT elect the president, you elect a person to go vote for the president. When you cast your vote, what you are doing is determining what electors you'd like to go and vote for the president. Who the electors are, the specifics of their choosing and so on varies state to state a bit, but that is how it works and how a president can win the popular vote but lose the election (And Bush v Gore isn't the first time it has happened).

    Now I'm not saying that this bill is a useful thing, frankly the legislature shouldn't be concerned on this. However I don't think it is a bad idea to teach kids about different kinds of government and get them a good understanding of clear labeling.

  • by sorak (246725) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:19AM (#35431122)

    All that aside, it's the Democrat party, people. Not the Democratic party.

    No. It's "democratic party" See here [wikipedia.org]

    "Democrat Party" is a political epithet used in the United States instead of "Democratic Party" when talking about the Democratic Party.[1] The term has been used by conservative commentators and members of the Republican Party in party platforms, partisan speeches and press releases since 1940.[2]

  • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:26AM (#35431238) Journal

    Federation - A collection of semi-independent substates
    Republic - A government run by a group constrained by the laws of the government, where the governed have some method within the laws of the government, to affect the ruling group.
    Democracy -A government run by the vote of the people.

    We are a Federation - each state has a relatively high level of independence.
    We are also a Democratic Republic - We have a Republic form of government, enabled by a democratic process (the ruling individuals are selected directly or indirectly by the people, but the majority of decisions are NOT made by the general population).

  • Re:More Accurate? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:33AM (#35431368) Journal

    Bellamy's original Pledge read as follows:[7]

    I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

    The Pledge was supposed to be quick and to the point. Bellamy designed it to be recited in 15 seconds. As a socialist, he had initially also considered using the words equality and fraternity[6] but decided against it - knowing that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans.[8]

    Also amusing:

    One objection[18] states that a democratic republic built on freedom of dissent should not require its citizens to pledge allegiance to it, [...] Another objection lies in the fact that the people who are most likely to recite the Pledge every day, small children in schools, cannot really give their consent or even completely understand the Pledge they are taking

    Most people can't even completely understand the pledge, amusingly most people don't even associate the term pledge with an oath. It's just "something you do" and "you're supposed to."

    I'm amused that there's actually controversy over this; but dismayed that most complaints are due to religion and the use of the term "God." The other arguments seem more legitimate, and I really did think I was the only one that noticed.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:47AM (#35431604) Journal

    Indeed. I'm not sure what the hell any of this is supposed to mean. A republic isn't defined by how the executive and/or legislative branches are chosen, and you can have dictatorial, autocratic and democratic republics, or some combination thereof.

    The United States is a representative democracy, with a bicameral legislature elected by popular vote and a presidency chosen by an electoral college, so is somewhat indirectly democratically elected. The United States is a democracy.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:10PM (#35431954) Journal

    US is a republic, yes. US is also a democracy. These two words are not antonyms today.

    US is not unique, either. E.g. Germany is also a federal constitutional democratic republic. In fact, all Western states which are not constitutional monarchies are republics (though not all are constitutional, and not all are federal).

    The whole idea that the word "democracy" is somehow bad is purely an American phenomenon. Everywhere else in the world - including other English-speaking countries - it means solely that government reflects the will of the people, and nothing more; from there it is detailed further (e.g. "direct democracy", "representative democracy" etc) as needed. I've never seen a European say that their country is "a republic, not a democracy".

    In US, though, it seems to be some weird kind of shibboleth - especially interesting that I mostly notice it being used by less moderate conservatives and libertarians. Non-political people are perfectly happy with using "democracy" in its everyday, sane meaning.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:15PM (#35432004)

    Technically they're right. We are not a democracy, we are a republic. Their reasons for doing this may be wrong, but I agree with the overall outcome.

    I know that they brainwashed you in school to believe that, but I would rather believe the New Oxford American Dictionary ... Merriam-Webster dictionary ... dictionary.reference.com ...

    You should have looked up both "democracy" and "republic". You would have found that they both share the characteristics you emphasize:
    - Supreme power resides in the people entitled to vote.
    - Power exercised by elected representatives chosen directly or indirectly.
    However the definitions for republic also includes:
    - A head of state that is not a monarch. In contrast your sources specifically permit a monarchy in a democracy.

    So "republic" is a better fit for the Unites States.

    Furthermore your Merriam-Webster source includes:
    Examples of REPUBLIC
    when asked by a passerby what sort of government the constitutional convention had formulated for the new nation, Benjamin Franklin memorably replied, “A republic, if you can keep it”

    and your dictionary.com source includes:
    Today, the terms republic and democracy are virtually interchangeable, but historically the two differed. Democracy implied direct rule by the people, all of whom were equal, whereas republic implied a system of government in which the will of the people was mediated by representatives, who might be wiser and better educated than the average person. In the early American republic, for example, the requirement that voters own property and the establishment of institutions such as the Electoral College were intended to cushion the government from the direct expression of the popular will.

    Which is why founding fathers described their creation as a republic back in the day. For a more modern perspective lets see how the US government describes itself today:

    Country name:
    conventional long form: United States of America
    conventional short form: United States
    abbreviation: US or USA
    Government type:
    Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition
    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html [cia.gov]

  • Re:Technically... (Score:5, Informative)

    by norminator (784674) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:18PM (#35432066)

    Oh good grief... does *anyone* remember what they were taught in government in junior high? [...] Yes, sometimes the elected President did not get the majority of the popular vote. The Electors are not bound by law (in all states) to cast their vote according to popular vote. This is one of the checks and balances, designed by the founders of the nation, that prevents popular will from overcoming individual freedom. We're all taught this in school.

    Apparently you don't understand how the electoral college works any better than the people you're trying to teach, which makes you just like Glenn Beck. My 8th grade history teach taught that exact same tripe. He also constantly mispronounced words (which had pronunciation guides in the textbooks!), and corrected other people's mispronunciations with his own. If you want to understand government, you should probably go back to high school or college level classes, where things aren't simplified to the point of being wrong.

    The years where the electoral college result didn't match the popular vote had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the electors can make their own choices. The instances where an elector has voted contrary to his/her state's popular vote has never affected the result of the overall election. What has made that difference is the fact that just like Congressmen, electors are divied out to each state based on population, plus an additional two electors purely by virtue of the state being a state. This means that smaller states get a slightly proportionately larger voice per capita than larger states. And that is why the electoral college results don't always match the popular vote.

    Here's another bit of trivia you might not have known, which explains why electors normally stick with the voters in their state:

    When you vote, you're not telling a set of electors which candidate to cast their vote for, because there's not just one set of electors per state. Each party organization in each state picks a set of electors, and the popular vote decides which party's set of electors gets to cast their votes. Electors chosen in the last election by the Democrat party in a state where the popular vote went to the Democrat would have been very unlikely to vote for a Republican candidate -- they were chosen specifically by their party because they would vote for the party's candidate!

    The few instances where an elector has voted contrary to the popular vote (and contrary to their own party) in their state has been more of small symbolic act of protest, knowing that it won't change the election.

    The workings of the electoral college do very little to emphasize the role that electors play as representatives, as they represent their own party more than anything else. What the electoral college does do is emphasize the importance of the power of individual states.

  • Re:Right-wingers (Score:5, Informative)

    by Blink Tag (944716) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:20PM (#35432994) Homepage

    Having met many of these legislators (indeed, having previously been in a position where I would headdesk regularly at their antics), even if the article doesn't say it, I can vouch for the fact that those pushing the bill are in the ultra-conservative wing of Utah's already conservative (and controlling) Republican party.

    Pretty much anyone from Utah County, including Sen Madsen (R-Eagle Mountain), Sen Dayton (R-Orem) and Sen Stephensen (sp?; who sits just across the north border of the county) are at the extreme conservative end of the political spectrum, and regularly introduce legislation designed to disrupt public education. For example, a couple of years ago, Sen Dayton (on the word of a single constituent who thought alike, and despite resistance from every education-saavy person I know) went on a crusade against the International Baccalaureate program, decrying it as a socialist takeover of state's rights (never mind that each school, and thus each locally elected school board, must choose to opt in).

    The representatives from the same area (unsurprisingly) act similarly, and most of them would like to see a complete dismantling of public education in favor of a completely market-based approach. Now that's a whole different kettle of fish, but it provides some insight into why they are so consistently disruptive--and I don't mean in the positive innovation-friendly sort of way, but rather the time-consuming, prevent-actual-innovation-because-of-extra-work sort of way.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @02:13PM (#35433668) Journal

    In a democracy, "the people" vote on everything.

    That's plainly false (which is the crux of the problem), and my reference is any English dictionary closest to you. E.g. from OED [oed.com]:

    Government by the people; that form of government in which the sovereign power resides in the people as a whole, and is exercised either directly by them (as in the small republics of antiquity) or by officers elected by them.

      A state or community in which the government is vested in the people as a whole.

    In Modern English, what you describe is called "direct democracy". Plain unqualified "democracy" is an umbrella term for all kind of democracies, including "representative democracy". A subset of the latter is a "democratic republic".

  • Most teachers get pensions. That often means half pay for the rest of your life after working 20 years. That is a huge savings.

    Play with this spreadsheet. Assume a teacher earns $40k/year from age 25 to 45 and pulls $20k/year in pension from age 45 to 80. What salary and savings rate would be required for someone to have the same standard of living in the private sector without a pension?

    First of all, starting teacher salaries are nowhere near $40K.

    Second, where do you get this idea that teachers are retiring at 45 and living the high life?

    Most important, you have to realize that contributions to the pension plans are deferred benefits paid in lieu of immediate salary. In other words, when the retiree collects a pension, he is collecting from the money that was put aside for him. The total compensation package is cash salary plus pension contribution.

    The other option, of course, is for the employee to be given the pension money in cash up front and then he can invest it how he wants (or spend it, or whatever). Or, more likely, the employee will be told, "We are no longer contributing to your pension, and we are not giving you the pension contribution to you in cash," which is, no matter how you slice it, a significant reduction in compensation.

  • by jkauzlar (596349) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @05:43PM (#35436606) Homepage

    Teachers in Madison WI (focus of the current fight) are pulling down $100K in wages and benefits

    Can't let that one slide. Without even looking it up or verifying it in any way, I can tell you with 100% certainty that teachers in Madison make nothing in the ballpark of $100K a year. That would be absurd. Even $50K takes a decade or more to work up to. I do earn money in that ballpark and I'm not even 40 yet, and do I deserve to make more than a school teacher, with the responsibility they're given? heck no. If you paid them better, we'd get better teachers, that's economics 101. Also, the system is broken because it IS gutted.

    I understand Keynesian economics. But I think it is wrong at best and wicked at worst.

    Ah, an ideologue. Put your books down and look at the real world. Total privatization of the U.S. in the vein of your heroes von mises, hayek, et al, would lead to a banana republic and mass poverty on the scale of which the world has never seen. Mountains of evidence suggest so. A cursory glance at world history suggests so (and a deep look proves it). So unless a truly stratified class society is your 'ideal', then you're just plain wrong. If it IS your ideal, which is, I suspect, deep down for you so-called libertarians, to be the case, then you are literally wicked at worst.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro..." -- Hunter S. Thompson

Working...