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Update from one Indiana Representative

 
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Old 11-09-2008, 06:27 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Munich, Germany
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Bela,

this discussion will go far off-topic of this message board, so I'll try to give just a brief answer, though it's a very interesting one especially in this context. If needed, please lets continue the discussion off the message board, by e-mail. If anyone ense wants to participate in this discussion, just let me know and I'll put you on copy of the e-mails.

(I've got a college degree in politics but of course in German language; so pleae forgive me if I'm not always using the correct English terms.)

A republic is a concept describing how a COUNTRYy can be organized which - and here you're absolutely right - doesn't necessarily mean it's democratic at the same time. The concept of a republic just says, basically, that common welfare is the guiding idea. Many political theories say that a republic can exist without democracy.

But then there are 5 criteria that are defining democracy:
- equality: everyone can participate in elections and everyone's vote has the same weight.
- freedom: everyone has the right to decide freely and without pressure to vote for which ever candidate he/she prefers.
- freedom of information: everyon ehas the right to receiveall information he thinks are necessary to make the right decision in elections.
- freedom of opinion.
- the right to run for an office.
Usually a sixth criteria is being added: alternatives - there need to be alternatives to choose from (other than e.g. in China where you only have the choice between the pre-defined leader and, well, nothing).

Without any doubt all 5 (6) criteria are given for the United States, therefore this country is a democratic country, whether the Constitution is explicitely mentioning this or not. Democracy actually is a concept describing a specific way of finding decisions, not necessarily in a country but in any type of community from church communities to small towns, from small or big countries to companies and even entities like the United Nations.

So to be precise, the USA is a democratic republic.

Now why did I (and why does Obama) describe the USA as birthplace for modern democracy? The Declaration of Independance dates back to 1776 - a time where democracy was unheard of in Europe and the rest of the world. The Constitution of the United States of America is (besides the constitution of the little country of San Marino) the oldest republical constitution still in effect and she's based of democratic principles.
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