No, the United States Is Not a Democracy

( – Most people, if you were to ask them, would say that America is a democracy. While that might be what we learned as kids in school, the truth is the United States doesn’t meet the definition of a true democracy. Instead, we’re what’s known as a constitutional republic. What’s the difference between the two? Basically, it boils down to how a country’s ruled.

What Is a True Democracy?

A true democracy lacks a governing document. There’s no constitution, no bill of rights, no set of laws and guidelines to follow. Citizens still elect officials, but they have unchecked power, which may lead to tyranny if not closely watched. Additionally, in a true democracy, the majority rules over the minority, who have no voice.

What Makes the US a Constitutional Republic?

The United States is a constitutional republic. It’s governing document is none other than the Constitution, which outlines the powers each main branch of the government has, effectively forming a system of checks and balances. Like a democracy, citizens elect representatives and government officials. However, powers are checked, and those checks, as well as individual rights, are defined through the amendments of the Constitution. Also, the Senate and House may impeach a president for overstepping these powers and even remove him or her from office.

The Importance of State and Federal Governments

One thing that makes the United States unique is its separation of powers between the state and federal governments. The main reason for this division is because each state government works to meet the particular needs of its citizens. States also have local branches of government to serve the needs of residents in congressional districts. This is because the needs of city dwellers are vastly different from those who live in rural areas.

The presence of the US Constitution prevents the United States from being a true democracy, but that’s not a bad thing. Citizens still hold power, yet the majority cannot trample over the minority. So, the next time someone mentions how they love living in America and being in a democracy, you can break out your knowledge about why we’re classified as a constitutional republic.

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