The use of democracy and republic interchangeably is innocently erroneous because there exist major differences. This makes the constitutional republic vs democracy debate a very crucial platform for clarifying issues. The rights of citizens in republics are safeguarded and cannot be taken away by the government. On the other hand, democracies disregard the rights of minority.
The rights of individual citizens and powers of governments differentiate democracies from republics. It is an uncontested fact that the majority rule in both cases. However, it is the extent of power and relationship with minority that differentiates the two. Both systems allow citizens to determine their representatives into the government.
Democracies appear to give absolute right to the government of the day. This allows the majority rulers to alter the constitution or laws based on their desires. This means that as long as a majority government is in power, it has free will over all the citizens regardless of their political affiliation. This leaves the minority in a vulnerable position.
Republics provide safeguards that restrain majority governments from oppressing the minority. This means that citizens have inalienable rights that cannot be taken away whether they are a majority or minority. This is a differentiating factor when one seeks to understand how democracies differ from republics. Democracies expose the minority to a greater extent.
Democracies allow rule by omnipotent majority. This gives them the power to impose their will upon the minority unlike in republics where there are restrictions. The rights of citizens in republics are changeable through a consultative approach that leads to voting.
The exercise of sovereignty is another factor that determines whether a nation is a republic or democracy. Democracies allow the population to hold sovereignty as a group while republics reserve this right to individual citizens. This method of governing first emerged in Classical Athens.
Republics follow a different system where individuals have inalienable rights. Even majority governments cannot take away these rights. This form of government traces it roots to Classical Rome with characteristic three arms of government. This is the system that USA has adopted.
Democracies come in two forms, direct and representative. The mandate of an individual is taken by a representative who forms part of an elected body in representative democracies. He is the voice of his electorates and therefore will purport to vote based on their wish. He also gives an opinion that is said to represent his electorates.
Power and decisions in direct democracies are in the hands of the people. This means that there are no representatives within the governance and law making systems. The ways of exercising direct democratic processes include referendums and voting. The people determine the issues what they want directly through a vote.
The rule of law that governs USA makes it a republic. There is a constitution or written law that governs representatives who must swear to abide by it. Most countries have democratic republics with certain segments of governance falling in different categories alternatively. The rights of individuals are protected yet the majority government has power over minority, though there are limits.
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