THIS IS A REPUBLIC – Use Itwebdev
Some people consider this nation to be a democracy. They feel a fervent need to change undemocratic processes they see in the United States. One thing they want is the removal of the electoral college.
In March of this year a New York Times writer, Jamelle Bouie, wrote, “In February, I wrote about the Electoral College its origins and its problems. Whatever its potential merits, it is a plainly undemocratic institution.”
People such as these desire justice. Unfortunately, history shows that democracy does not lead to the justice these people desire. Democracy was attempted in the Greek city states of ancient times, but that only led to a tyranny of the wealthy.
Modernly the Swiss cantons of Glarus and Appenzell Innerrhoden use a direct democracy, but their combined populations are approximately 57,000 people.
The United States of America was created as a democratic republic; it is not a democracy. Democracy is a system where each citizen has one vote, and they vote on the problems directly. This is generally done in small populations.
A democratic republic is a form of government wherein each citizen has one vote and they use that vote to choose their representatives. These representatives then vote on the questions and concerns of the day. Because we have Congress, as the national citizenry we don’t get together to vote on national issues, our representatives do. In the same way, we vote for the electoral college and they then elect the president of the nation.
Democracies have never worked for anything larger than a city state, and then not for very long. In light of this truth, the founders of this nation moved away from democracy and set up a stable democratic republic.
The 17th amendment of the United States Constitution, ratified in 1913, removed an integral attribute of the republic: the appointment of federal senators by state legislatures. With that gone, our government no longer functions as it was intended.
Now that we elect our senators by popular vote, the states have lost a highly important check on the federal government. That check had been in place to ensure that the interests of the state were seen to at the federal level, and that the states maintained some representation on the hill. But that alteration does not rob us of the republic completely. We continue to elect officials at the city, county, state, and federal levels to deal with the questions of those respective jurisdictions.
If people attended their local city and county meetings, what they would observe is that we are still a republic, and that the local interaction with elected officials is an important way to stay engaged in our political process.
City council and county commission meetings are a perfect place for citizens to voice their opinions on the decisions being made in their communities. Questions about things like road maintenance, water usage, and state and national park administration can carry more meaning than is seen when taken at face value. Getting up to speed on the politics of your local area can be very enlightening.
The truth is that attendance rates of such meetings are tragically low. Even the elected and appointed members of the counties and cities are putting forth more effort to get citizens involved than the people themselves. The National Research Center took a survey from 2012 to 2014 on U.S. citizen involvement in local government and these were their findings:
1) “Contacted [locality name] elected officials (in-person, phone, email or web) to express your opinion?”
•Yes: 19 %
•No: 81 %
2) “Attended a local public meeting?”
•Two times a week or more: 1 % •Two to four times a month: 1 % •Once a month or less: 22 % •Not at all: 76 %
Before you tear down the republic, use it properly. Talk to your officials, vote for the people you believe will do good in those local positions. Don’t take such elections lightly.
Republics do allow for local and individual impact. The United States of America is not and does not function as a democracy, but as a republic, this is demonstrated by the presence of the electoral college and city and county governments.
The way to be heard within a republic is not to dismantle the system, but to attend local meetings and to be involved with the election of members of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, both at the national and state level. When a populous is highly involved in a republic, the republic is stable and strong, and the interests and liberty of the citizenry are protected.
Olivia Merten 2nd Year Student Corvallis, OR