Where did the "America is a republic, not a democracy" argument come from, and how much truth is there to it?
The manifesto put out by these kooks
is just the latest example of an idea I've been encountering more and more often: that the United States is not actually a democracy, but a republic.
It's something I've heard before -- usually put forward in a smugly superior/nitpicking sort of way, the same way one might correct someone who uses the phrase "I could care less."
Lately, though, I've been seeing this bit of semantics trotted out in an explicitly political context, almost always by hardcore Tea Party types. Here's just one example, from 2002
. It draws a pretty clear semantic distinction between Democrats and Republicans, by contrasting the "mob rule" of small-d democracy unfavorably with the "constitutional conservatism" of small-r republicanism.
My question: where did this idea come from? Was there a pundit or an op-ed that first put forward the politicized version of this argument? Also, in a historical context, how accurate is it? Is the U.S. really not technically a democracy, or is that just a bunch of sophistry?