Is America a Democracy? Yes or no?
I keep hearing people use the phrase "The will of the American people", the most recent in an article from the New York Times, quoting Hillary Clinton:
Among the signs of Democrats fighting back are an online petition begun by the presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, expressing opposition to the veto that Mr. Bush has threatened for the bills that would attach timelines for withdrawal to the release of the war financing. “Mr. President, please work with us,” Mrs. Clinton said in a statement on Tuesday. “Don’t veto the will of the American people.”
I also see this argument tossed out there in my comment section constantly.
There is a second article written by the Examiner where the writer, Jay Ambrose suggests that Chuck Hagel read the constitution before he speaks.
I would also recommend this to the commenters that like to throw that phrase "The will of the American people" around.
If you doubt the Nebraska Republican capable of feeling contempt for the act of resisting public pressure for the sake of a principle, take note of what he has been saying.
“Any president who says ‘I don’t care’ or ‘I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else’ or ‘I don’t care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed’ — if a president believes that, then there are … ways to deal with that,” Hagel is widely quoted as having said on ABC.
The issue is Bush’s objections to picking a date for the United States to withdraw the military from Iraq. If he does not back down, Hagel has indubitably, brazenly, shockingly said, Congress can impeach and convict him.
“You can impeach him,” Hagel said in an interview with Esquire magazine, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment.” Bush, he says, “has lost the confidence of the American people in his war effort,” adding, “This is not a monarchy. There are ways to deal with it. And I would hope the president understands that.”
No, this is not a monarchy. It is a constitutional republic. And what the Constitution says about impeachment is not a matter of guesswork — the requirement is that there be a demonstration of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” I wish Hagel would understand that, and some other things, as well.
He ought to get it that the president is commander in chief of the armed forces with the power of battlefield command, and he ought to get it that while the different branches of government have carefully delineated means of checking each other, no branch can simply disband another because it or a majority of the public sees things differently.
He ought to get it that while the Constitution gives Americans a system of self-governance, it is chock-full of safeguards against runaway public passions. Not the least of them is a bicameral legislature in which the Senate is supposed to be a more cautious force than the House, often hesitating (like the president) when the polls, loud commentary and the latest election results scream for immediate action.
And he ought to get it that President Bush’s stance on the war is not some ploy intended to win plaudits. This man who has set records for a refusal to exercise his veto power is now standing up to Congress despite a nation largely turned against him. The reason is that he agrees with the experts who think the congressional prescription would give us a multiheaded disaster. Call that stubborn if you like. A better word is courageous.
Hagel is a Vietnam combat veteran who thinks the Iraq war was unjustified and has been incompetently managed. He is angry about that and, understandably, about war advocates who seem to view the loss of American lives there as “an abstraction.”
He himself has talked about the need of senators to act courageously, saying they should have sold shoes if they wanted secure jobs. But in even suggesting that a way to cope with a disagreeing president is to impeach him, he is letting his anger override a basic premise of our system, not to mention reflective judgment and common sense.
Maybe he is the one who should sell shoes.
Yet another good suggestion.
That article just answered your pop quiz question.
How many of you answered yes when I asked if America was a democracy? Come on, be honest now....... did you?
Those that did are wrong, pure and simple.
The United States of America is one of the oldest constitutional republics in the world.
The fact that a constitution exists that limits the government's power, makes the state constitutional. That the heads of state and other officials are chosen by election, rather than inheriting their positions, and that their decisions are subject to judicial review makes a state republican.
The constitutional republic with its limitations on popular government is clearly involved in the Constitution, as seen in the election of the President, the election of the Senate and the appointment of the Supreme Court." That is, the ability of the people to choose officials in government is checked by not allowing them to elect Supreme Court justices. A republic, as distinguished from a democracy, the people are not only checked in choosing officials but also in making laws.
A Bill of Rights exists in the U.S. Constitution which protects certain individual rights. The individual rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights cannot be voted away by the majority of citizens if they wished to oppress a minority who does not agree the restrictions on liberty that they wish to impose. To eliminate these rights would require government officials overcoming constitutional checks as well as a two-thirds majority vote of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the States in order to amend the Constitution.
John Adams defined a constitutional republic as "a government of laws, and not of men.
In historical usages and especially when considering the works of the Founding Fathers of the United States, the word "democracy" refers solely to direct democracy, while a representative democracy where representatives of the people are elected and whose power to govern is limited by laws enshrined in a constitution is referred to as a constitutional republic.
Our founding fathers understood that the "majority" is not always right and could and often does allow their passions to overcome their common sense, so they built in protections with the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
I would be willing to lay good money on the fact that those that answered yes to the question of whether America is a democracy, never has read the full Bill of Rights along with the Constitution.
You may have read one or the other, but if you had read them both, you would not have answered yes in the first place.
If you have read them both and still answered yes, then you have bigger problems than I can address here, for sure.
Do not try to "excuse" your wrong answer by trying to tell yourself or me that you somehow "misunderstood the question" or "took it wrong", the question was simple, you either said yes or no and you were either right or wrong.
Many have heard the expression "We the People" and without bothering to read the actual documents believe that because of that phrase everything that is done by the will of the people.
We the people is written into the preamble of our Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
We the people does not refer to "the will of the people" in regards to actions associated with the President or the senate or congress, it simply added there for the purpose of declaring that the constitution came from "the people" themselves.
The Preamble neither grants any powers nor inhibits any actions; it only explains the rationale behind the Constitution.
It looks like not only Chuck Hagel should read the Constitution but so should Hillary Clinton from her statement above, she probably would have answered yes to the titled question also.... and this woman is running for President?
They don't even understand the difference between a Constitutional Republic and a Democracy.
The Founding Fathers might not have forseen the intricate way our media has evolved and now imposes their opinion and political agendas into their supposed "news" stories, but they did have the forsight to make sure that the "will of the people" are expressed through elections, from there on, it is the individuals elected that make the decisions, not the people nor their individual wills. After the will of the people is done (elections), it is then out of the peoples hands until the next election when the people get to speak their will again.
That is where the separation of powers comes in.
Section 2. The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.
He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.
The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.
Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.
Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;
To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;
To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;
To establish post offices and post roads;
To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;
To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;
To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;
To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;
To provide and maintain a navy;
To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;
To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;--And
To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
Perhaps Nancy Pelosi should read or reread the Constitution also, because she is under the delusion that being voted into Congress has given her some "Presidential" powers.
The separation between the two is very clear.
The President decides foreign policy and commands our military.
Congress funds them or denies them funds, but Congress nor the Senate have the power to command our military, that IS the Presidents power.
We are a Constitutional Republic and not a Democracy and people should learn the difference between the two before spewing forth such nonsense as "the will of the people".
[UPDATE] OOOOOPS, A HUGE thank you to Perri Nelson for emailing me and letting me know that I had somehow turned the commenting off which in turn disabled the trackback URL from showing.
Thanks Perri and all is fixed now thanks to you!!!!!
[UPDATE] 4/16/07- Matt Stoller of at MyDD also does not understand that America is not, and never has been, a Democracy.
One has to wonder where he got his education, huh?
He was corrected here, but does not acknowledge his misrepresentation....which leads me to believe he is deliberately lying to his readers.
OPEN TRACKBACKS TODAY
Trackposted to Pet's Garden Blog, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, Perri Nelson's Website, third world county, basil's blog, Overtaken by Events, The Amboy Times, The Bullwinkle Blog, and Right Voices, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.
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