To the contrary, they secured a republic that would regulate American democracy and protect slavery not only because of racism but also because they didn’t trust ordinary citizens with political power.As the nation extended suffrage and abolished slavery and segregation, the political question became how democratic should the republic become.
Americans may wonder whether greater democracy is even desirable, since few in the echelons of society that dominate public communications and our capitalist economy are prone to entrust more power to the many who are often seen as uncouth—incapable of political judgment and likely to threaten their positions.
While anti-democratic thought often stems from prejudices of one kind or another, it actually is true that democracy does not inherently provide an automatic guide for just political action.
Bush voted to keep America out of foreign entanglements in 2000; Donald Trump campaigned as (inter alia) a champion of the working man who would restore America’s infrastructure.
The First Amendment grants citizens freedom of speech and religion, but those rights are extended only as far as is accepted by agents of the three branches of government.
Yet the Congress does not adhere to these public opinions—and I don’t think it’s because they’re smarter or more virtuous.
But the trouble with democracy transcends contradictions between words and deeds or citizens and their representatives.
Democracy is not automatically just, because the demos is not automatically right.
This is not a uniquely democratic foible; human beings are fallible.
Of all the political words that trip off our tongues yet bedevil understanding, one of the most important is “democracy.” Strictly translated, it signifies authoritative power (kratos) by the citizenry or people (demos)—particularly the lower and middle classes—in the public affairs of a political order. We Americans live in a republic, whose laws are made by public officials in whom citizens invest power and authority, legitimating their power over the citizens who are governed.
Citizens vote for their representatives, but there is often little relation between what citizens vote for and what their representatives do. Johnson campaigned on a peace platform in 1964; George W.