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As Wikipedia notes,

Even though there is no universally accepted definition of ‘democracy’, there are two principles that any definition of democracy includes.

The first principle is that all members of the society have equal access to power and the second that all members enjoy universally recognized freedoms and liberties.

There are several varieties of democracy some of which provide better representation and more freedoms for their citizens than others.

On this page we find a number of varying styles of democracy, all sharing similar fundamentals like free elections and universal freedoms and liberties. Within the framework of democracy lie differing execution of socialism. Here it is laid out as,

Socialist thought has several different views on democracy. Social democracy, democratic socialism, and the dictatorship of the proletariat (usually exercised through Soviet democracy) are some examples. Many democratic socialists and social democrats believe in a form of participatory democracy and workplace democracy combined with a representative democracy.

When we read through the various definitions of each style of socialism, it’s clear the United States was not and is not designed for socialism.

Yet, we are a democracy.

But what form?

Later on that same page we find a section about a Republic,

The Founding Fathers of the United States rarely praised and often criticized democracy, which in their time tended to specifically mean direct democracy; James Madison argued, especially in The Federalist No. 10, that what distinguished a democracy from a republic was that the former became weaker as it got larger and suffered more violently from the effects of faction, whereas a republic could get stronger as it got larger and combats faction by its very structure. What was critical to American values, John Adams insisted, was that the government be “bound by fixed laws, which the people have a voice in making, and a right to defend.” Also, as Benjamin Franklin was exiting after writing the U.S. constitution, a woman asked him Sir, what have you given us?. He replied A republic ma’am, if you can keep it.

Aha!

We learned this in school, the United States is a Constitutional Republic!

What then is a Constitutional Republic? 

From Wikipedia we learn a Constitutional Republic is,

A constitutional republic is a state where the head of state and other officials are elected as representatives of the people, and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government’s power over citizens. In a constitutional republic, executive, legislative, and judicial powers are separated into distinct branches and the will of the majority of the population is tempered by protections for individual rights so that no individual or group has absolute power. The fact that a constitution exists that limits the government’s power makes the state constitutional. That the head(s) 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; should the judicial review be maximized.

[…]

John Adams defined a constitutional republic as “a government of laws, and not of men.” Constitutional republics are a deliberate attempt to diminish the perceived threat of majoritarianism, thereby protecting dissenting individuals and minority groups from the “tyranny of the majority” by placing checks on the power of the majority of the population. The power of the majority of the people is checked by limiting that power to electing representatives who are required to legislate with limits of overarching constitutional law which a simple majority cannot modify.

Yes, I know, this is the very basics we learned in school, but it can’t hurt to lay it out again.

I often wonder how many people truly understand the principles of our form of government?

How is it that so many seem to recognize we are a form of democracy, yet fail to understand we’re a Constitutional Republic in form and function? Or, at least, we’re supposed to be.

What has happened to us, as a nation, that we stray so easily from our founding principles?

Perhaps you’d like to share your thoughts on how we’ve arrived where we are now?

1959: Mike Wallace with Ayn Rand, Part 1

1959: Mike Wallace with Ayn Rand, Part 2

Hat tip to Tammy Bruce, whose book The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left’s Assault on Our Culture and Values is a good read!