Define 'Democracy' Before You Begin To Argue

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Editor:

Terry L. Putnam of Young asks, "Why democracy?"

It is, on the surface, a good question, but only on the surface.

To begin with:

  • What is a democracy?
  • Are there different kinds? How many? Describe these. (Bring lots of paper and a new pen).
  • What is a republic?
  • Are there different kinds? How many? Describe these. (Bring lots of paper and a new pen).
  • What system do we actually have in the United States? If not belonging to either, what is our system?

There is a lot of confusion he world over concerning these two ideas, perhaps humorously epitomized by the name the North Koreans apply to their particular government, namely "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea." Since their government is a totalitarian dictatorship, "Do it my way or hit the highway (to the firing squad)," neither term seems applicable.

Alas, these two terms have become more-or-less simply "hot-button" labels, substantially meaningless unless defined on the spot in which they are used, which happens very infrequently, if ever.

With this clarification, I ask Mr. Putnam to kindly and briefly define what he means by these two terms and to give two current examples of each, if possible.

I hate to spoil the party, but defining terms prior to embarking on an argument usually deflates and exhausts the contenders well before they can strike the first righteous blow for their cause.

Quoting dead people regarding such elusive meanings is not fair, for we cannot inquire any more of them over the details, the crucial details.

Allen N. Wollscheidt, Payson

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