Letter to the editor — June 11

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The difference between a republic and a democracy

When Ben Franklin was asked about the government the Constitutional Convention designed in 1787, he replied, “it’s a republic, if you can keep it.” But today, we commonly refer to the U.S. government as a democracy. So, what’s the difference and why should we care?

A democracy and a constitutional republic are both forms of government, but they differ in key aspects.

In a democracy, the power is directly or indirectly vested in the hands of the people. Direct democracy involves citizens directly participating in decision-making processes, often through initiatives or referendums. Indirect democracy, also known as representative democracy, involves citizens electing representatives to make decisions on their behalf. Majority rule is a fundamental principle in democracies, where decisions are made based on the will of the majority.

A constitutional republic also involves representative democracy but operates under a framework of a written constitution that limits the powers of the government and protects the rights of individuals. The constitution serves as the supreme law of the land, outlining the structure of government, delineating the powers of different branches and guaranteeing certain rights and freedoms to citizens. The government’s authority is constrained by the constitution, preventing it from infringing upon the rights of citizens, even if it has the support of the majority. The rule of law is a core principle in constitutional republics, meaning that everyone, including government officials, is subject to and accountable under the law.

In essence, while both democracy and constitutional republic share the principle of representative government, a constitutional republic adds an additional layer of protection for individual rights and liberties through the framework of a written constitution.

If you’d like to learn more about the Constitution, our government and our liberties, I highly suggest visiting the blog of Dr. Christin McMasters Ortegon, known as the Liberty Belle here in North Carolina.

Erica Vedeikis,