The question of whether the USA is best understood as a democracy or a republic is always present in society. To answer it, one should understand the process of distribution of power on multiple state levels in the federal system of the United States. For that matter, this essay will define the terms the republic, confederation, and democracy and illustrate whether the United States became more or less close to the definition of each term.
The terms of republic, confederation, and democracy are all close to each other, but each has its differences. According to Allen (2017), “both before and after the passage of the Declaration of Independence,” political matters argued about which ideology to choose, democracy or republic (p.369). However, the argument related more to different opinions regarding which ideology, rather than aristocratic principles, would be more popular. Both terms of republic and democracy have been interpreted multiple times by various politicians since that time, which resulted in the American political system being called a democratic republic or a representative democracy.
The term democracy originally means ‘people’s rule’ and implies the structure of government in which the people are all considered eligible members of the state. Nowadays democracy system includes the authority of the people to choose the legislators. On the other hand, the term republic is described as a state where the power is held by the people, elective representatives, and the president. The confederation aspect addresses that in the commonwealth, each state is independent in its internal sovereignty. In this case, the United States is undoubtedly a confederation of different states joined in a system of representative democracy.
In conclusion, coming back to the question of whether the United States government become more of or less of a republic, a confederation, or a democracy, one could agree that the democracy and republic are connected. The terms republic and democracy have almost the same definition and even have been fused to the term ‘democratic republic.’ Indeed, on some occasions, one could say that the United States has become less of a democracy and more of a republic.
Allen, D. (2017). A democracy, if you can keep it. J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 5(2), 368-374. Web.