Correcting That Typographical Error In Your Brain 
     Everyone knows that the United States of America is a democracy. Right? You've been told that we're a democracy a billion fucking times by teachers, mass-media parrots and politicos. And because they all agree that this country is a democracy, then it must be true. Right? 
     Don't you even believe them. They are liars and/or fools. Keep reading and allow me to explain. 
     A democracy is a system of government where the people rule themselves by directly voting on every issue. Whatever gets the most votes gets put into effect. Sound idyllic doesn't it? The problem with it is that the people are never in agreement with one another about anything. On any issue, some are for it and some against. So what is democracy functionally? It is the rule of the largest group or coalition of groups over themselves and the dissenting minorities. The ruling group or coalition in a democracy gets to dictate laws to minority groups, who have NO PROTECTION and no recourse. THAT right there sounds scarily like Karl Marx's "Dictatorship of the Proletariat." The Proletariat is the working (blue collar) class -- always the largest percentage of any society not still in the Old Stone Age. Anytime one large fraction of society gets to run the society as a whole, it runs it the way it likes and to hell with others. Therefore -- ANY PURE DEMOCRACY IS A DICTATORSHIP BY THE MOST NUMEROUS GROUP. It is a dictatorship over those less numerous -- but whose rights are not any less real -- and whose needs, wants and freedoms inevitably get stepped all over by the majority. 
     Thankfully however, we do not live in a democracy. Instead we live within a system that permits a democratic choice of leaders (elections), tolerates limited direct democracy in order to bypass any neglect by those leaders (referendums), and GUARANTEES your freedoms and rights spelled out in a constitution. 
     There is a name for a system of government wherein people chose their own leaders, where the rights and liberties of citizens are protected by a piece of paper that is essentially a contract self-imposed by people on themselves and their leaders. Im not going to tell you that name just yet. That contract, called a constitution, lays out the duties of government, restricts government action to limited spheres, and specifically names a multitude of activities that citizens may engage in freely without fear of interference from anyone -- no matter how many citizens might wish to vote against those activities. The Bill of Rights especially prohibits government from interfering with such things as: our freedom to communicate with one another (freedom of the press), our ability to defend ourselves and each other (right to bear arms), protection from being forced to testify in court against ourselves (5th amendment freedom from torture), religious liberty to worship whatever we please (God, Madonna Louise Ciccione, etc), or not, as we please, etc, etc, etc. I'm sure you've seen that list of guarantees before. And even though there are continuous violations of the Bill of Rights by various government agencies -- everything from Waco Baco, to G. Gordon Liddys prison sentence for refusing to testify, to the entire system of drug law enforcement -- in the whole the constitution remains intact, if a little frayed 'round the edges. 
     Now do you know what sort of country the United States of America is? It is the sort of country which attempts to protect all groups within its citizenry -- no matter how small -- all the way down to individual persons. It attempts to protect them from each other, from the various levels of government and from foreign governments. And all of this protection is vested in a piece of paper that government officials swear to uphold and defend (the liars), a piece of paper that those clever men in Philadelphia 200 years ago deliberately made difficult to alter. It is a piece of paper whose guaranteed personal liberties and prohibitions on government action are legally superior to the whims of individuals and the passing fads of venal legislatures. 
     So what the hell are we if we're not a democracy? 
     We are a republic.

This article originally appeared in Censor This.