When Charlotsville was in the news and the topic of the Confederacy was top of mind, it once again brought out the knuckle-draggers who love to claim “the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, it was about state’s rights!”. Forgive us if a wall of empty Budweiser cans made it difficult for us to see the master’s degree in American History hanging (crookedly) on the wall of your single-wide. Of course when you asked them “A state’s right… to do what?”. Why, legalized slavery, of course.
This same sort of “good ol’ boy scholarship” often rears its ugly head upon hearing the word “democracy”. “America’s not a democracy! It’s a constitutionally limited republic!”. There’s often an implied “dumb ass!” clinging to the end of their spoken words.
Well, my Backwater-U friends…. not so fast. It is true that the founding documents of the country indeed do describe the ways in which the rights of both the government and the masses are limited. For example, just because a proposed law that says all people born with eleven fingers shall be put to death might pass 99.99% to 0.01%, the rights of the individual to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness triumph over the will of the collective.
But time stands still for no one and a basic constitution is not sufficient to govern a complex evolving society. How are new laws brought about? Once a society grows beyond a few people, a direct democracy is not feasible. That is why we have a representative democracy: we vote for people to represent our interests at various levels of government. Once in office, those people vote on a majority rule-basis (democratically) to establish or not, various proposed laws. Both the act of electing our representatives and their votes once in office are both examples of democracy in action. We were founded as a constitutionally limited republic, but we exist and evolve as a democracy. Please make a note of it, Bubba.