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

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  • Technically... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:37AM (#35429282)

    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.

    P.S. Registered Democrat speaking here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hedwards (940851)

      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.

      • Re:Technically... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by wilgibson (933961) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:52AM (#35429574)
        The U.S.A. is a Federal Republic.
        • by King InuYasha (1159129) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:32AM (#35430278) Homepage

          We are a Constitutional Federal Democratic Socialist Republic, technically. We have a Constitution, we use a Federal system of governance, we use democracy for elections, socialism for helping old or needy people, and we are a country of the people. So, technically, we are a Constitutional Federal Democratic Socialist Republic.

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:14PM (#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 shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:10PM (#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.

      • Re:Technically... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by nharmon (97591) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:55AM (#35429630) Homepage

        No, we are not a representative democracy. In a representative democracy majority rules all at all times. We do not have that by virtue of our constitution, making us a constitutional republic.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No, you're all wrong. We have a corporate run government with the illusion of an elected republic.I mean really? When was the last time the Government followed the people's wishes? Really.

          Follow the money.It goes from our pockets to .... let's see .... hmmm.. maybe Wall Street?

        • All of the above (Score:5, Informative)

          by Daetrin (576516) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:56AM (#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.
      • Re:Technically... (Score:5, Informative)

        by KarrdeSW (996917) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:12AM (#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.
        • Re:Technically... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:30AM (#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.

        • Plato, in Athens, Greece [Where] in about 340 b.c. was the one who came up with the idea. And had some original thoughts on the issue. One may argue that "Democracy" means something different now [becaue words do change] but you should realize that the distinction is very old.

          • Re:Plato (Score:4, Interesting)

            by KarrdeSW (996917) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:28PM (#35431276)

            Plato, in Athens, Greece [Where] in about 340 b.c. was the one who came up with the idea. And had some original thoughts on the issue. One may argue that "Democracy" means something different now [becaue words do change] but you should realize that the distinction is very old.

            Well, Plato did write what we commonly call in English The Republic, but that is considered an inaccurate translation of the original title Politeia. The republic/democracy distinction being established by Plato is also silly, because his distinction is democracy (by people)/monarchy (by one)/oligarchy (by the elite)/timocracy (by property owners).

            And even Plato doesn't lump constrict democracy into "direct referendum on practically everything". It's a looser term in his work as well. No part of ancient athens even fits that definition, except possibly their secondary political body, which only included men over 20 anyway (this amounted to about 1/8th the population). The primary bodies of government were the public officials who were chosen by lottery.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chrb (1083577)
      Are they also going to teach about those other great republics .. the People's Republic of China (PRC), Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the German Democratic Republic (DDR), and the Islamic Republic?

      Or are they only going to teach kids that USA==republic, and forget the inconvenient republics?

    • by cgenman (325138)

      From the article, it seems like the main thrust was a socialism witch hunt. Of course, what they don't tell you is that most oppressive socialist regimes in the past 100 years, and indeed most of the oppressive governments in general, were elected democratically. WW2 Germany, Russia, China has elections...

      Boy it's reassuring that our elected officials are setting the rules on what our elected officials are to be called.

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

      by Smurf (7981) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:21AM (#35430062)

      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 (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. (...)

      (Sorry for cross-posting this, but this nonsense has to stop).

      • by perpenso (1613749) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:15PM (#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, Insightful)

      by Asic Eng (193332) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:21PM (#35431146)

      Republic is to Democracy what Latin is to Greek. (Not exactly I admit, but it's pretty close.)

      Usage of the words democracy and republic has certainly changed over the centuries. The US doesn't (at least officially) give more votes to rich people than to poor (a central feature of the roman republic) and it doesn't elect plebeian tribunes either. They are definitely not a republic in a strictly Roman sense. They are however a country whose founders were classically educated and drew on Roman traditions and terminology when drafting the constitution.

      Today - anywhere in the world outside the US - the US would be described as a representative democracy. The same applies to any established dictionaries in use in the US.

      What's the point of obscuring modern use and going back to terminology last used hundreds of years ago? I think it's a political motivation, suggesting that the Republican party is the natural ruling party of the country.

    • Re:Technically... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by adamdoyle (1665063) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @05:14PM (#35435424)

      The article never says anything about "because democracy would have democrat in it." I'm guessing the story submitter made that up.

  • editorialize much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by X_Bones (93097) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `31zronad'> on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:39AM (#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.
    • Welcome to the new Slashdot. Sadly I think Encyclopedia Dramatica is more right about "us" every day.

      (And don't let my high UID fool anybody, I only registered for the 10th anniversary parties, but I was reading from year one.)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:49AM (#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.

      • by BrianRoach (614397) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:41PM (#35432404)

        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.

        And in some states children are indoctrinated in some crazy shit involving magic underwear and Jesus hanging out with Native Americans. ::shrug::

        (I have Karma to burn. Which is rather apropos given the topic)

    • by shess (31691) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:02AM (#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 LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:44AM (#35430488) Homepage Journal

      You left out the bigoted addition from Cmdr Taco. Man what is next From the harder than getting money out of Jew department?
      Really Cmdr Taco that is really just not cool.

  • by EricWright (16803) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:40AM (#35429318) Journal

    I mean, the USA IS a republic... a (supposedly) democratically elected republic, but a republic nonetheless. Maybe we should leave the terms democratic and republic alone and rename the political parties. How about lazy jackasses and fat ugly elephants instead?

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:41AM (#35429342)

    The reasons behind it may be corrupt, but the United States is actually a republic, not a democracy.

    "Congratulations gentlemen, you have a republic, if you can keep it"
          -Benjamin Franklin,

    at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787

    • Rome was a Republic for the period between the kings and the emperors. Unelected representatives made the decisions. The representatives were, basically, the heads of the families classed as Patricians, so the Government consisted of a load of Mafia Godfathers getting together to parcel up the City. This seems to have been the kind of Government envisaged by the US Founding Fathers, who were very definitely patrician in outlook. So long as only the right sort of people got to make the decisions - white, po
  • Democracy is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:42AM (#35429348)
    ... 3 wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner.

    There is nothing inherently good about a democracy, nor anything inherently bad about even a dictatorship. The moral judgment comes from the actual actions of the members of government in either system. The US is absolutely a constitutional republic with representative democracy - an attempt to avoid the common problems of both mob rule and dictatorships.
    • Re:Democracy is... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:52AM (#35429572) Journal
      Indeed, if you want to look at the history of actual full-fledged democracies, you can find the kind of brutalities that would make even the average despot blush. [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:Democracy is... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:00AM (#35429700) Journal

      There is nothing inherently good about a democracy, nor anything inherently bad about even a dictatorship. The moral judgment comes from the actual actions of the members of government in either system.

      Nonsense. Even a benevolent dictatorship violates the right of the people to self-determination. That's exactly like saying slavery isn't inherently bad as long as the overseer is merciful.

      • Re:Democracy is... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:35AM (#35430328)
        Would you care to explain what you mean by your self-determined "right to self-determination"? In doing so, please explain how it restricts an individual from pursuing his own interests, the way a slavemaster prevents a slave from leaving his labor to pursue his own interests.
      • Re:Democracy is... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Shrike82 (1471633) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:02PM (#35431788)

        Nonsense. Even a benevolent dictatorship violates the right of the people to self-determination.

        Nonsense. I live in a country with a democratically elected government, and we've had three different parties involved in leading the country over the last decade and beyond. Nothing changes. That's not self-determination through democracy, that's giving people the illusion of being able to detemrine their destiny through democracy. I'm sure in many dictatorships the people on the street have just as much ability to decide their own fate as I do - they can change careers, can get married, can have kids, can buy a new car or choose to use public transport, and so on.

        Democracy vs. Dictatorship is not as black and white as you're making out.

    • by gman003 (1693318)
      So, your saying that you would be fine with a dictatorship, as long as the dictator was making moral and ethically sound decisions?

      While a benevolent dictatorship might work for Linux, I don't think it would work well for a full government. You can't fork a country as easily, if you disagree with the decisions.
  • by queen of everything (695105) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:43AM (#35429382) Homepage
    We are a representative republic which means that we elect representatives to make decisions on our behalf. A true democracy would have the populous vote on every decision the government makes which is far beyond manageable. I don't think Utah is doing this because of the word "democrat" or the word "republican" but instead to teach our children a better understanding of how our government is truly configured. Take the partisanship out of it and it's an accurate and important detail.
    • by shark72 (702619)

      You're correct out of context, but it's essential to understand that this *is* about partisanship.

      Utah is simply taking a tactic from the Texas School Board; they were taken over by the religious right a few years back and have been dramatically reworking the curriculum to fit the right wing political and social agenda. The list of horrifies is long, but includes de-emphasizing Thomas Jefferson (because he strongly pushed for separation of church and state), as well as several non-white contributors to Amer

    • by zill (1690130)

      true democracy

      Definition of DEMOCRACY [merriam-webster.com]
      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

      We are a representative democracy which is true democracy.

  • The issue at hand (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dogknat (1546787) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:45AM (#35429424)
    Any time somone in the world feels slighted even when its made up. That person in is by human nature determined to lash out and do whatever is necessary to destroy the validity of the argument at hand. The fact of the matter is the United States is a republic all of our founding documents say so. God sakes can you imagine what a pain being a true democracy would be imagine if everyone had to vote on every law.... we would have the shortest set of law books on the planet because no one would agree on anything except no taxes and free government services.
    • Are you suggesting that would be a bad thing? There are quite a number of silly laws you could do without, like the massive export subsidies on agriculture or the massive bailout of the banking sector. It's so very much harder to extend copyright forever if you need a majority vote of the whole country, it'd be almost impossible to bribe that many people. It would also force americans to actually -care- about the country, and keep up to date on things.
  • by itsdapead (734413) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:45AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Pumpkin Tuna (1033058)
      The problem is that a state legislature is politicallh micro-managing individual curriculum decisions because they are worried that teachers are too "red." The different forms of government are already taught. In the real world outside of Utah, state boards of education get together a group of experts, teachers and sometimes even parents to come up with a comprehensive curriculum that is then revised every few years as needed. If this trend continues, I suppose we can look forward to the next few bills:
  • by countertrolling (1585477) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:48AM (#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..

  • 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!

    I searched for the 'like' button when I read that. I haven't had enough coffee yet.

  • by epp_b (944299) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:49AM (#35429518)
    ...the US is not a democracy.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:50AM (#35429536) Journal
    But maybe we could consider going out on a limb here and teaching the kiddies about systems of government rather than telling them to memorize the correct label(Which, unless you are cynical enough to say "Plutocratic empire with democratic republican ceremonial elements", is "Republic).

    Hey Kids! Athens was a "Democracy". Rome, pre empire, was a "Republic"; both looked absolutely fuck-all like our government. How can this be? Let's talk about the differences between a "Republic" and a "Democracy" and what sorts of variations are possible within the broad heading of each... We may have to skip cramming names and dates for a week; but I think you'll learn something...

    And hey, while we are at it, let's remember to mention that(depending on which historians you talk to), there have been at least five reasonably distinct periods during which different political parties, with different names(in some cases quite confusing, since they are the same as today's; but mean different things) vied for control... Raise your hands everyone who knows that the Democrats used to be the southern conservative party, and the Republicans the northern liberals? And that there was a "Democractic-Republican" party, (arguably the one whose name actually corresponded most closely with our governmental form), that hasn't existed in almost 200 years?
  • by vajrabum (688509) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:51AM (#35429554)
    The definition of republic from Wikipedia is: A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, retain supreme control over the government.[1][2] The term is generally also understood to describe a government where most decisions are made with reference to established laws, rather than the discretion of a head of state, and therefore monarchy is today generally considered to be incompatible with being a republic. I think that people who say this are interested in changing from universal suffrage to "some significant portion of them". The same sort of people who spout this sort of stuff will often be heard to say that things were better when only those who owned land could vote. That is the presupposition hidden in this meme--disenfranchisement. Since we're quickly moving to a society where the minorities are a majority and where only the bankers and a few rich (white) people own land, this is simply advocating a new form of apartheid through the back door. For those of you who find liberal or Democrat a dirty word, be aware that college students can guess party affiliation from a head shot 80% of the time. That means that liberal and conservative reflect basic personality traits, and it takes all kinds.
  • by NiteShaed (315799) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:54AM (#35429608)

    I'd say that maybe clarifying the difference between a pure democracy and a republic for students isn't such a bad idea, although I do suspect that there's more to this behind the scenes than TFA states outright.

  • by jfruhlinger (470035) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:07AM (#35429834) Homepage

    I always find this argument hilarious because people act as if "democracy" and "republic" are terms that have one extremely precise meaning each, and are mutually exclusive.

    Etymologically, "republic" comes from the Latin phrase "res publica", which means "common thing" or "common substance". It was meant to contrast the Roman state, which was the possession of the entire Roman citizen body, with foreign kingdoms that were (in the view of the Romans) "owned" by a single despot. The English phrase "commonwealth" is a more or less literal translation. (The Romans continued to use this name for their state well after the oligarchic system we call the "Roman republic" was replaced by the one-man rule we call the "Roman empire," by the way.)

    Etymologically, "democracy" comes from a Greek phrase that means "people power", or, perhaps more accurately, "citizen body power" ("demos" referring to the body of people with citizen rights, not the population as a whole). It was used as a term of abuse even back in the days of ancient Athens, when the state went back and forth between various systems of government, some of which involves large-scale participation of the citizen body in day-to-day decisions, others not so much.

    The two words have been used to describe an incredible variety of political systems over the past 2000 years or so. The modern use of the word "republic" probably emerged in the late 18th/early 19th century, when it came to specifically denote states that weren't monarchies (as this was a live question in that era). The modern use of the word "democracy" is similarly broad, denoting a system of government where the citizens have a significant say in how the country is run. Since there are virtually no instances of states run by direct democracy, the term is understood as being wholly compatible with representative government, in which citizens elect officials to run the state on their behalf.

    You can have states that are democracies but not republics (e.g., the UK and Sweden), that are republics and not democracies (e.g., Syria, Belarus), that are both (e.g., the U.S., France), or that are neither (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Brunei).

  • by Glock27 (446276) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:45AM (#35430516)

    Most of the responses here show exactly why teaching that the United States is a Republic is a very good idea!

    The US educational system is in drastic need of an overhaul! I find it entirely unsurprising that home schooled kids do better on standardized tests than the products of the public education system.

  • by Wild_dog! (98536) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:46AM (#35430526)

    In the purist definition we are now a social democracy. Both republicans and democrats are socialists being that they support and vote to to continue social security and medicare and we have a redistributive tax policy and have had for as long as most people currently alive have been voting. So the hypocrisy of the socialism label is astounding.

    Most Americans are socialist too. I don't see any mad rush to give back social security checks or turn down medicare for a free market solution.

  • by Theatetus (521747) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:52AM (#35430650) Journal
    There is nothing about being a Republic that prevents a country from also being a Democracy. I'm sick of that false distinction. A Republic is a state whose head of state is not a monarch. A Democracy is a state whose government's authority derives from the people. A state can be one, both, or neither.
  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:56AM (#35430712)

    Come on slashdot editors--

    not a democracy, because a "Democracy" would have "Democrat" in it."

    does not appear in the linked article.

    Save your editorial commentary for, I don't know, the comment section?

  • by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:33PM (#35431370) Homepage Journal
    there is no difference in between them. these morons, and i say morons, not to mormons but to the right wing ignorant circles in usa, utter this word as if it is contrary to centralization. "but this country is a republic !!"

    iiiis iiit ? so, france is also a republic. and there are no state rights or states there.

    switzerland is also a republic, and the decentralization there is MUCH bigger than the one in usa.

    these ignorants seem to think that 'republic'/'democracy' etc have anything to do with centralization/federalization/decentralization.

    they do not. you can have fascism, yet it can be decentralized (like in feudal times), you can have a democracy/republic, yet it can be more centralized than anything else.

    its all about who does the decision making. elected representatives of people, or else.

    its appalling that even here there are fools that have the same misconception - hey, doing a google search and reading a wikipedia article with endless references to political science documents is not that hard ? why not take action now, and dont make out yourself come out as an ignorant bimbo.
  • by jbezorg (1263978) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:50PM (#35431646)

    *Proceeds to stack more mud*

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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