Is the United States a democracy?

· Politics

Many people, including Americans, refer to the United States of America as a democracy. However, this is not technically true, although of course the ideals of the Founding Fathers are democratic. An example of America’s commitment to democracy is George W. Bush’s implementation of the Freedom Agenda, a platform dedicated to the spreading of democracy throughout the world. Still, the States collectively represent a limited constitutional republic, as opposed to a democracy.


In 1776, the War of Independence was fought so that the States could free themselves from Great Britain’s George III’s rule. The Founding Fathers wanted a meritocracy, where people rose through society based on merit, rather than as a result of the class into which they were born. They did not want a King. In fact, George Washington was offered a kingship for the new country, but he refused. The Founding Fathers had principles. Washington and his colleagues wanted a republic, not a monarchy, but a republic framed by the democratic philosophy.


And now we come to the electoral college, a perfect example of the moderate course upon which the Founding Fathers embarked. Contrary to popular belief, and how things are usually phrased, Americans do not vote directly for the President. They vote for the electors in each state who will then in turn vote for the Presidential candidates. The reality associated with this is that a candidate could receive more general votes but still lose the election to the candidate who receives more electoral votes. The number of electors representing individual states depends on how many representatives in the House of Representatives has. This system of course is roughly similar to how Canada’s elections work, although they are not identical. One similarity is that some states have winner takes all, where the candidate receiving the most votes gets all electoral votes for that state. Other states’ rules decree that the number of electoral votes is proportionate, rather than winner take all. Each candidate, then, receives a percentage of the electors in proportion to how many overall votes they obtained. The Congress has the responsibility of counting or tallying all of the votes, and the Vice President subsequently announces the results.


All of this is just a very long way of saying that democracy in the United States is a real principle, but it does not exactly describe their system of government. The main controversial issue about the electoral college is that the candidate with the most votes does not necessarily win the election. 

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