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Democracy v Republic: Propaganda v Free Speech



by Patrice Johnson | July 31, 2023


If you search the word, democracy, on Michigan’s Department of State web page, the first two sentences sound defensive, even hostile:


Michigan citizens continue to be subjected to lies and misinformation about the state’s elections, as elected officials, candidates and others continue to profit politically and financially by spreading the falsehoods. By doing so they endanger American democracy, and the factual information on this page is provided so that all Michiganders have access to the truth.


Strange that a statement professing to provide “access to the truth” contains factually incorrect information. To start, its reference to our system of government as American democracy is fundamentally inaccurate. The United States of America is a constitutional republic, or as the framers of the Declaration of Independence called it, a federal republic.

The word democracy appears nowhere in the U.S. Constitution, and this supreme law of the land explicitly states, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” (Article 4, Section IV)


But in every get-out-the-vote effort, in the All-in-Democracy campaign, in the American Democracy Project (ADP), or The Democracy Commitment (TDC) one reads the word, democracy. No mention is made in any of these campaigns or projects of the word, republic.


Now, even the Michigan Department of State (DOS) has gone so far as to refer to the American democracy, choosing not to say representative republic. Why? What could compel the Michigan DOS, replete with its more than 200 lawyers, to deliberately mislead, or to borrow its own expression, to “publish a lie and misinformation”?


To those who might feel tempted to reply, tomāto. tomɐto—think again.


Words matter. Words form thoughts and shape our attitudes. They affect behavior. So too, the structure of government shapes how we function as individuals and society. Free speech is a foundation of our Constitutional Republic, one which people champion.


On the other hand, Karl Marx, author of the Communist Manifesto and father of identical twins Marxism and Communism, described “useful idiots.” In a free society, where words become the foundation on which behaviors are built or changed, We the People are justified in casting a wary eye on a government that engages in overt or subliminal messaging. We have the right to put on our critical thinking caps and ask, “What's behind this shift in words?”


Part II of this article will point out the difference between a Constitutional Republic and a Democracy. Part II will demonstrate which political system protects individual rights and freedoms.


 

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