I keep noticing a particular belief among a certain kind of rightwinger. What they say is that the US government isn’t a democracy but a republic. I’ve seen this stated thousands of times in blogs and comments around the web.
I wonder what is the source of this claim. The fact that it keeps being repeated by so many people makes me think it’s a talking point often heard in conservative media. There is one thing that is obvious to me about this phenomenon. These people didn’t learn this idea by looking up the term ‘democracy’ in a dictionary or an encyclopedia or even Wikipedia.
Half of the statement is correct and half of the statement is false. The US government is BOTH a democracy AND a republic. To be more specific, the US government is a representative democracy and a constitutional republic. What these rightwingers fail to understand is that there are multiple definitions of democracy and multiple definitions of republic.
Even going back to Greek society, there was vast difference between Spartan and Athenian democracy. Sparta was a representative democracy with a political system that was divided. Athens was more of a direct democracy where even the lowest citizen could participate. The US is a bit of both these. The US is like Sparta in the following ways: representation instead of direct democracy, divided government, and a professional military. The US is only like Athens in one way: any citizen can participate and potentially become elected into government.
The only place where direct democracy operates in the US very partially is on certain major issues of local governance that are decided by citizen vote. I suppose also that jury by peers could be thought of as a watered down or constrained version of direct democracy. Still, the vast majority of the government is representative and the ‘mob’ of the citizenry has little direct influence.
The rightwingers are arguing that democracy is solely defined as direct democracy or, as some call it, mobocracy. But they are simply wrong. Their ignorance amazes me. Let me demonstrate by considering a random definition from a mainstream dictionary. I did a search and this is the top result (after Wikipedia):
Merriam-Webster, definition 1, part b (emphasis mine)
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
Here is the confusion. Rightwingers are taking the following part of the definition as if it were the whole definition:
Merriam-Webster, definition 3
capitalized : the principles and policies of the Democratic party in the United States <from emancipation Republicanism to New Deal Democracy — C. M. Roberts>
Basically, it comes down to a simplistic play on words. These rightwingers are trying to make an argument that the Republican party is the party of real America, the party that represents the emancipation Republicanism of the founding fathers. The problem is that this argument is so simplistic as to be inane. There is absolutely no conflict between a constitutional republic and a representative democracy. US democracy is constrained by being indirect and by having the govt divided. Furthermore, US democracy is constrained by the constitution (and the constitution is responsive to the democratic process, i.e., amendments).
There are a few basic confusions.
The original meaning of ‘republic’ was simply a government that wasn’t a monarchy. The difference between a monarch and a president is that the former represents himself or represents the ruling elite and the latter theoretically represents the whole population and the country as a whole. As far as I know, this doesn’t require a constitution. The term ‘republic’ just basically means that the leader can’t simply act on whim and must be held accountable to the law like everyone else, but these laws aren’t necessarily the same as a constitution. A constitution is similar to laws, but the difference is that a constitution is what all other laws are based upon and that they must remain basically unchanged. Most republics probably tend towards declaring constitutions, but a strong legal system independent of the leader can serve the same purpose as a constitution. A constitution is just a safeguard in case the legal system fails. The constitution, of course, has no power in and of itself. Still, it’s powerful in being a symbolic mission statement of a society.
Let me now share part of the definition of ‘republic’:
Merriam-Webster, definition 1, part b(1)
a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law
That serves as an equally good definition of a representative democracy.
Two things come to my mind: 1) Henry Fairlie’s definition of a Tory; and 2) rightwing rhetoric about ‘mobocracy’ and ‘real Americans’.
So, how did Henry Fairlie define a Tory? The Tories support the British government… which includes the period of monarchy. The Tory has faith in government in general for the reason they mistrust capitalism controlled by the wealthy elite. The government represents the people or at least the country, but capitalists have no inherent loyalty to anything besides profit. I think this represents the basic distinction between conservatives and liberals in the US. Conservatives mistrust government and instead trust capitalism. Liberals have a basic faith in government while being wary of capitalism. This is demonstrated by how Democrats show stronger support for even Republican presidents than Republicans show for Democrat presidents. Liberals trust the government even when they don’t have one of their own in power because they see government as being greater than either party.
This brings me to the second point. Liberals also have more basic faith in the American people and human nature in general. Liberals believe humans are inherently good or at least have the inherent predisposition towards good. Conservatives believe that people need to be told what to do by traditional authorities (i.e., religious leaders) and by those who are seen as having earned authority (i.e., successful/wealthy capitalists). Conservatives talk about ‘real Americans’, but they don’t mean the average American. What they’re talking about is the specific group they belong to: fundamentalist Christians, ‘white culture’, etc. So, their notion of ‘real Americans’ is very narrow. The liberal notion of a real American is more broad and I doubt most liberals would even deny conservatives as being real Americans. Just look at the Democratic voters who evenly divide between identifying as liberals and conservatives (according to the 2005 Pew data: Beyond Red vs Blue).
I’d also point out that it’s because of conservatives mistrust of people and government that they emphasize the constitution so much. That is why they tend to think of the constitution as an unchanging document akin to a religious document such as the Ten Commandments. Conservatives trust principles and beliefs, traditional values and institutions; whatever they perceive as a living and unchanging tradition of their particular in-group. Democracy, even though ancient, isn’t a traditional part of Christianity and so not a traditional part of European culture. Greek ideas which inspired the Enlightenment Age were reintroduced to Europe from the Middle East and so Greek ideas are considered suspicious.
My main point in all this is just that it’s odd to see rightwing constitutionalists denying the very democracy that was created by the founding fathers. There are argument rests on the fact that when some of the founding fathers were using the term ‘democracy’ they were often referring to only direct democracy, although not always (Thomas Paine seemed to have meant something more broad when he wrote about ‘democracy’). Apparently, many of the founding fathers used the term ‘republic’ to mean representative democracy. However, in the modern world, the term ‘democracy’ is more commonly used for both direct and representative forms. The rightwingers using narrow definitions from a couple of centuries ago and dismissing modern meaning of words is rather pointless. The meanings of words change. That is just the way the world works.
Like it or not, the US government is a democracy. If (some) rightwingers for some strange reason wanted to get rid of democracy, they’d be forced to get rid of the republic itself which is built on the political process of democracy (voting, representation, etc). I’m assuming rightwingers don’t want to do this. So, why do they continue with the ignorant argument that America isn’t a democracy? Is it intentional ignorance in that there being ideoligically divisive in what they see as a battle that must be won at all costs, the battle of defeating liberals and Democrats? Or is it just passive ignorance of people who never read anything (including dictionaries and encyclopedias) outside of conservative media?
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US: Republic & Democracy (pt 2)
33 thoughts on “US: Republic & Democracy”
In my experience of checking out political blogs, I’ve noticed that too.
I’ve seen it less recently. It really got bad a while back, maybe some during the Bush administration but even more with the rise of the Tea Party movement. I think some pundits were pushing that meme hard.
I wrote this series of posts so that I could simply link to them every time a right-winger makes this false claim. It saves me time. I’m all for lessening the amount of time I waste interacting with those who don’t care about truth. I only confront such people because I don’t want their lies to stand unchallenged.
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
I guess you don’t know the background. The pledge of allegiance was written by a Christian socialist who was an ordained minister. He intentionally didn’t write “one Nation under God”. But he was quite intentional in his writing “with liberty and justice for all” as it was part of his socialist vision. Even though his Christianity was important to him, he had absolutely no desire to promote theocracy, not even in words. His intention, as a Christian socialist, was to criticize the greed, materialism, and hyper-individualism that were becoming dominant during the Gilded Age.
Forget the pledge. Please help me understand. What about the constitution? Article 4 section 4 ….would you have been a federalist or antifederalist?
Forget the inconvenient evidence that contradicts your beliefs, even though it was you who brought it up as evidence. I doubt I could help you understand, unless you want to understand, but you so far show no indication of wanting to understand. So, please help me understand. Which constitution? There were two, and the second was unconstitutional according to the first. It wasn’t even just an issue of Federalist vs Anti-Federalist.
The Articles of Confederation was written by a Quaker-born Federalist and so it is influenced by the Quaker tradition of living constitutionalism, but after the initial writing some Anti-Federalists made changes before it became the first constitution. So, it was an agreement between Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Yet the original writer of the Articles wasn’t a Federalist in the imperialist and authoritarian sense of those who later co-opted power. As far as that goes, the Anti-Federalists were the actual Federalists because they were the strongest advocates of actual federalism.
As for me, I would have been for real Federalism and against fake Federalism, however you want to label that.
You are referencing a lot of great material. You seem very smart. Are we a republic or a democracy?
Your response seems to indicate that I maybe had you figured out wrong. If so, I apologize. I don’t like being an asshole to people who have genuine concerns and viewpoints. But I’m always on edge because of the number of trolls and ideologues that roam around the internet.
It is just your comments didn’t have much meat on them. I don’t mind disagreement. But it felt like you were simply being dismissive. And there wasn’t really anything there to me to respond to. I wasn’t sure what you expected of me.
There were many documents in early America. And even among the core founding fathers, there was constant disagreement and many differences in language used. Simply pointing to one later official document, the second constitution, doesn’t really tell me anything. Context is essential.
I really would love to have interesting dialogue with you. I’m fine with heated debate. Disagree with me. Even call me names if you want. But make it interesting and worth my time. It isn’t a matter of being really smart or well read. All that is required is basic curiosity. I have no college education. I simply look for info and try to make sense of it. Like anyone else, I could be wrong.
I want to be challenged. Please challenge me. If you have an argument about the original meanings of republicanism and democracy, then I want to hear it. Don’t hold back. And don’t worry about who is right or wrong. Formulate the best argument you can make with the best evidence you can find. Throw it at the wall and see what sticks.
I welcome your opinions. But I do have limited time. I’m always in the process of reading and writing, along with working and simply living my life. I try to use my time wisely and not waste it where it won’t be appreciated or serve any purpose.
So, if I had you all wrong, if I misunderstood where you were coming from, then accept my sincerest apologies. And I really do hope that I was wrong.
“Are we a republic or a democracy?”
There are many possible answers to that question. Over the years, I’ve given various responses to it. There were American revolutionaries and American founders who intended the new country to be a democracy. They fought the revolution for democracy. And they kept fighting for democracy, as did following generations.
Democratic rhetoric and values influenced and shaped public debate and official documents, sometimes with democracy being stated openly and at other times more indirectly. The Declaration of Independence was clearly democratic in language and intention. So was the Articles of Confederation. The second Constitution was more reserved and most definitely institutionalized the very anti-democratic forces the revolutionaries had fought against n the British Empire. But in the years following the democratic Bill of Rights were added that offered a glimmer of hope.
All democracy is republican. So, the question you are really asking is the following: Are we a non-democratic republic or a democratic republic? If the former, what kind?
Removing all democratic elements from a republic would require some form of authoritarian republic, since anti-authoritarianism is the central feature of democracy. Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Communist Russia, and Maoist China were non-democratic republics. North Korea is the most obvious example of a non-democratic republic today, but there are many others. It’s common these days to find authoritarian governments that aren’t monarchies and hence that are republics.
Are you arguing that none of the American revolutionaries, American founders, and document writers were advocates of political democracy, civic democracy, social democracy, ideological democracy, and/or anything else democratic? Are you arguing that the early United States society and government lacked any and all aspects of anything called or resembling democracy?
That seems like a strange and depressing argument to make. Besides, there is much evidence to the contrary, if you bother to look for it.
Are you arguing against democratic values such as free speech, suffrage, right to bear arms, etc? These are the kinds of things that early democrats advocated for and their opponents advocated against.
When the anti-democratic (pseudo-)Federalists came to power, they put into place anti-democratic policies such as the Alien and Sedition Acts, effectively shutting down their opponents for a time. These same people had also sent mobs out to destroy the printing presses used by the Anti-Federalists. The anti-democratic Federalists hated free speech most of all, as they sought a new elite rule. They wanted to create an American version of British empire, aristocracy, and maybe even some elements of monarchy.
Is that the kind of non-democratic republic you want? I sure hope not.
I would much rather keep my God given rights and power than hand over my power to a majority (Democracy) to rule the life I live. Look at the history of Republicans (Federalists-not federalism). Do your research of the history of Race and Sex between democrats and republicans. Check your sources. We ARE a republic with democratic influences. Nowhere in the constitution does it say anything about a democracy, though it does of a republic. Article 4 Section 4 of the U.S. Constiution. Read more books, not blogs.
I have done my research of history, including hundreds of book on American history, politics, and culture. That is why I’m able to write posts like this. It’s clear that you haven’t read either widely or deeply on the topic. If you want to understand history, you’ll need to read a greater variety of historical documents, both official documents and personal documents.
Many of the founders and others in the revolutionary generation spoke directly about republicanism and democracy in pamphlets, letters, etc. There was much diversity of opinion and much confusion. Ironically, your comment demonstrates why actually knowing history is so important, beyond the level of pop history.
Your citing a historical document as if referencing Biblical verse as proof of God’s existence and supremacy. I really am reminded of how many Evangelicals argue, such as about Creationism. Your argument is like saying humans can’t be primates because the words are different and there is no mention of primates in the Bible. How can humans be primates when humans don’t have hairy bodies and tails? Therefore, evolution is false and we are a Christian nation.
I wrote a response to your comment as a separate blog post. Also, if you actually care about anything other than ideological dogmatism and right-wing groupthink, you should read parts two and three that follow this post. I discuss people like you, the not-a-democracy gnomes. There is a link I provide to the topic.
I don’t hold out much hope in having a dialogue with you. Your comments seem to indicate a simplicity and superficiality of thought. But I could be wrong. And be more than happy for you to prove me wrong.
I’ll just make one thing clear. As this is my blog, I have a standard for debate. If you are serious about your views, you better offer a serious argument based on historical evidence and scholarly sources. Cherry-picking is not allowed. Have an honest discussion or leave.
I’ve been reading revolutionary-era texts for a long time now and, recently returning to this activity, I again came across your comment here. Those old writings are fascinating stuff, partly because there were so many individuals involved in various debates and they left behind so many pamphlets, letters, memoirs, notes, etc. The diversity of views back then was immense, but nonetheless it cannot be denied by anyone who is well read that some of the founders most definitely supported democratic republicanism.
Thomas Paine spoke of democracy by that name. Many others like Thomas Jefferson referred to majority rule, will of the people, self-governance, etc. James Wilson, Noah Webster, and various early thinkers elaborated upon such democratic ideals and principles. Even some Federalists like James Madison were sympathetic to this Anti-Federalist demand for democracy as an antidote to despotism. Still, it is true there was much confusion and disagreement about what republicanism meant, as Jefferson explained in a letter Samuel Kerchival 40 years after the signing of the Virginia constitution:
“At the birth of our republic, I committed that opinion to the world, in the draught of a constitution annexed to the Notes on Virginia, in which a provision was inserted for a representation permanently equal. The infancy of the subject at that moment, and our inexperience of self-government, occasioned gross departures in that draught from genuine republican canons. In truth, the abuses of monarchy had so much filled all the space of political contemplation, that we imagined every thing republican which was not monarchy. We had not yet penetrated to the mother principle, that ‘governments are republican only in proportion as they embody the will of their people, and execute it.’ Hence, our first constitutions had really no leading principle in them. But experience and reflection have but more and more confirmed me in the particular importance of the equal representation then proposed.”
Of course, the democratic impulse was old, even ancient. There was the demos of Athens, very much a direct democracy, that inspired so many American founders. But there was also a longstanding populist tradition within Anglo-American culture, probably having its origins in pre-Norman tribes of Anglo-Saxons, Scandinavians, etc where kings were elected by the people. Foreign ideas were not required to understand direct self-governance.
Thomas Jefferson often saw the American Revolution in those terms of the British versus the Normans, specifically in his wishing to eliminate the aristocracy the Normans introduced. This proto-democratic anti-authoritarianism more powerfully emerged with the religious dissenters, from the Peasants’ Revolt to the English Civil War. They preached that everyone was equal before God, and so they tried to overthrow the feudal order and destroy rule of wealthy elites. So many religious dissenters ended up in the American colonies that this radical thought became so influential.
I always thought it quite relevant the religious views of the American founders. Of course, Jefferson was a deist but so was someone as respectable as George Washington. Then there were the working class radicals who likewise espoused deism and wrote deist texts: Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen, Thomas Young, etc. Also, it might be noted that Paine was raised by a Quaker father. And the original draft of the Articles of Confederation was written by John Dickinson who was raised as a Quaker.
During the English Civil War, before they embraced pacifism, the Quakers were among the most politically radical. They contnued to be troublemakers in the colonies and often found themselves oppressed, sometimes imprisoned, tortured, and disfigured, and occasionally killed. Then there was the most democratic of the earliest colonial leaders, Roger Williams, who embraced an extremely egalitarian and tolerant Baptist faith in having courageously defied the authoritarianism of that era. Williams established the first freedom-loving multicultural society in the New World.
The only God given right you have is to exist, yet again God can make make you exist in heaven or hell according to most -if not all- religions, if you are hungry God will not descend from the heavens to feed you, if you are homeless he will not build you a house, he can prepare the proper circumstances for you to be fed and sheltered if you play by the rules of the game.
Nobody is created from some special holy semen that entitles them to more rights, we are equal in the eyes of the Lord, when you stand stripped of your labels and possessions on judgement day, saying you’re an American or a christian or whatever does not grant you extra credit, a man in the depths of some jungle could have a purer heart than you, and would enter heaven before you.
The circumstances you are born into will determine how God judges you, for example someone who had a bad childhood and became a criminal as a result will have a better time making their case in front of God than say someone who chose to be a criminal with a weaker excuse. Not that we should be making excuses today, but simply speaking about the principle in general.
It’s hard to imagine God taking a side on political issues, as if a Divine Deep State intervening in human struggles for who gets to rule and how. Interestingly, the founder Noah Webster thought the notion of eternal rights not only unjustified but ridiculous:
“I undertake to prove that a standing Bill of Rights is absurd, because no constitutions, in a free government, can be unalterable. The present generation have indeed a right to declare what they deem a privilege; but they have no right to say what the next generation shall deem a privilege.”
That aside and apologies in advance for being sacreligious, but I bet some people would pay a lot money to get their hands on “special holy semen”. It would be better than buying indulgences. Out of curiosity, I wondered what might come up in a web search:
I think there are one or two explanations for the phenomenon. First, it allows them to throw the person their arguing with off the topic at hand and instead get mired in a pedantic debate about a false statement of mutual exclusivity. If one has not encountered this before, it can be a very time consuming argument. It’s also a way of asserting their dominance over their opponent, because they imply that they are more knowledgeable about American civics and are thus more qualified to speak on the topic. It can create a sense of doubt or crisis in the opponent.
More worryingly, it seems to be a line of argument developed by Sovereign Citizens (extreme right wingers who think they have the right to refuse obedience to any law any government creates — usually as it relates to taxes). In defining the United States as something other than a democracy and solely as a constitutional republic, their logical conclusion is that each citizen is a sovereign entity and is therefore entitled to the sovereign rights usually afforded to states. They feel they can reject the application of governmental laws on the basis that they violate their personal sovereignty.
I got into an argument with these people once on PolicyMic. Dozens of them suddenly responded to a comment of mine on a thread that had been dead for a few weeks. All of their accounts had been created brand new the day of their comments. I got the sense that someone either sent them to comment (perhaps by linking the article on a website a lot of right wingers frequent and urging his followers on) or that a single person had created all of the accounts.
I confront these people because they represent a very dangerous phenomenon.
They are a minority. But because they are so vocal and persistent and seemingly so organized in their efforts, they can appear a larger movement than they are. I suspect with the media echosphere these right-wingers end up fooling themselves into believing they represent the average American and therefore that they are the ‘real’ Americans.
They mindlessly repeat what they hear repeated in the right-wing media echo chamber. They are so disconnected that they don’t realize they are disconnected. They don’t know how little they know. It is worse than that even. They suffer from the smart idiot effect, as research has shown. They ‘know’ a lot, but they are unable to discern what things they ‘know’ are true and what is false.
This makes them an easily manipulated group by any demagogue that comes along (see social dominance orientation types—SDOs). Their disconnection makes them fearful. It isn’t America slipping away from them. They are slipping away from America and from most Americans. Their being so misinformed just makes them more afraid and more dangerous. They honestly are confused and overwhelmed, which causes them to lash out at scapegoats.
It is very sad. These are the people who need to hear the truth more than anyone. Yet there is almost no way to reach many of them. They are in such a state of fear that they close ranks and barricade themselves further in their groupthink.
But I wouldn’t give up on all of them. The truth is slowly beginning to trickle through the entire population. Every time one of these not-a-democracy trolls is confronted with a basic civics lesson, some of them begin to have doubts about what they’ve been told. It only takes one niggling doubt to undermine the whole edifice of their faith.
We who wish to defend and promote democracy must be as persistent and vocal as our opponents. No opportunity for speaking the truth should ever be ignored.
Keep fighting the good fight. I quoted the Constitution back at one of them when it happened to me, figuring that’s the only thing he could understand (I cited the articles dealing with electing representatives, senators, etc. and their powers over the executive, and then the amendments expanding the franchise). He never responded after that.
Article 4 section 4
Your point about Sovereign Citizens is important. These not-a-democracy trolls aren’t necessarily even your average right-winger. They are the extreme fringe of right-wing extremists.
I interact with various right-wingers. Most of them don’t dismiss American democracy, as far as I can tell. I have family members who to varying degrees lean to the right, and none of them argue against all democracy in this way that lacks all nuance.
I don’t mind right-wingers who make intelligent and informed arguments based on principle and logic. I even sometimes find common ground of agreement or at least mutual understanding with some right-wingers. Even out right disagreement doesn’t bother me when it is fair and reasonable. But there first has to be a minimal agreement on basic facts.
I’ll debate what kind of democracy is best. I’ll debate what kind of democratic tradition(s) exists in American society and politics. And I’ll debate to what degree American democracy functions well or functions at all. But categorical dismissals of democracy are simpleminded and pointless, especially considering the very fact we are free to publicly debate democracy itself is a democratic value and a demoratic process. Using democratic free speech to deny that dqoemocracy even exists seems counterproductive at best.
All this does, as you point out, is to distract from the real issues.
I posted the article about the democracy study to my facebook page:
Interestingly, the only person who commented in response was my cousin twice removed. He is some variety of right-winger or something like that, maybe more libertarian than anything else. He agreed that the lack of democracy was a bad thing. There was no bullshit about the US not being a democracy.
I have some of my best discussions with him, even when we disagree. And he can be pretty extreme with his right-wing views. For example, he is the opposite of an environmentalist. He thinks we should stop worrying about the earth and instead just colonize space. He has great faith in capitalism and technology saving humanity. But he also cares greatly about freedom and our views come together very closely on those issues.
What I want is meaningful discussion and worthy opponents to challenge my views.
Well this kind of hits on a deeper problem — that Republicans and the right in general have fully sold out to appealing to the lowest common denominator among them. I’m glad you’ve found in your cousin someone who can serve as a rational sparring partner for your debates.
Unfortunately the right for too long promoted the likes of Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter and in the process sidelined anyone with a modicum of intellect. There are plenty of rational arguments for conservative positions, especially in when it comes to liberty and economics, but instead the cultural demagogues spewing hateful opinions on social issues get pushed to the fore. It’s turning off a lot of young conservatives — they hold conservative fiscal attitudes but don’t see anything in the GOP today that resonates with them and feel embarrassed to associate themselves with the GOP because of the prejudice so many of its public figures so casually toss around.
I think a lot of changes are happening in American society, especially in terms of demographics and across generations. The right side of the spectrum is being altered as much as the rest of society. Young conservatives (and young right-wingers) are, generally speaking, a new breed.
That might partly explain my cousin. He is on the younger end of GenX. He is a Tea Party activist, which is less common among the young, but his views are much more open-minded and thoughtful than the average Tea Partier who is a fan of Beck and Palin.
It is refreshing to see these changes, including on the left side of the spectrum. People are waking up and the tired old rhetoric is getting less effective.
I was reminded of an important perspective. In Christian terms, it is often stated as hate the sin but not the sinner. But I prefer to frame it in a more psychological understanding.
I strongly disagree with the not-a-democacy argument. I disagree so strongly that I don’t even see the argument as valid. That is the logical response. The psychological response, however, is to empathize with what motivates the argument, what experience is behind the words.
Obviously, such people don’t genuinely understand democracy, either in terms of technical meaning or real world application. When they argue against ‘democracy’, they aren’t referring to actual democracy. Instead, they are using the word ‘democracy’ as a symbol.
This symbol represents any number of things, but maybe most important is the experiential level. It ultimately comes down to fear. Dismissing the misinformed argument against ‘democracy’ is one thing. But dismissing the experiece behind the words is something else entirely. Fear shouldn’t be dismissed. Fear is always irrational, which is all the more reason we should respect it, rather than mock it.
We should look past the words. If we want to reach people in a state of fear, we need to meet them on the level of their experience. That is a challenging thing to do. I’m not even sure I’m capable of doing that, but it seems like a worthy thing to try to do, even if only partly and imperfectly.
I’m not sure that makes sense to others. It is just a thought I had.