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The American System?

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So, I am reading a book about the American political system, and it refers to the American system as a "constitutional democracy". I thought we were a "republic", not a "democracy". Do they mean the same thing? I thought democracy meant every person gets a vote on everything, whereas we elect representatives to go to DC and vote for us (ie: represent us). Where am I off base here?

Hot Lava Mama

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Just so I have it straight in my head.... we're a 'constitution-based federal republic' meaning we have a constitution that the federal government (who is made up of representatives we elect) has to follow and keep in mind the will of the people when voting. The 'strong democratic tradition' is derived from the right to vote for the majority of local issues and electing representatives for larger, broader issues.


Did I explain that correctly?



Not exactly.


For one thing we don't elect members of the Supreme Court (which sits at the top of one of the three "branches" of government).


Second, elected representives are under no obligation to "follow and keep in mind the will of the people when voting." They may (or may not) follow what they believe is "the will of the people." Representative who are too out of touch with their constituents may not be re-elected, so that can be a moderating influence, but they are not duty-bound to vote according to their perception of the public will. In fact, many legislators believe it is a mark of leadership to follow their own sense of right and wrong when making their votes.



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