Democracy is not necessarily mob rule

There are a lot of people who incorrectly assume democracy is only mob rule. Democracy is not that limited a form of government. Like many words, it has more than one definition rather than an either-or meaning.

According to Merriam-Webster, democracy is defined as:

“1a : government by the people especially : rule of the majority

b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

2 : a political unit that has a democratic government

3 capitalized : the principles and policies of the Democratic party in the U.S. from emancipation Republicanism to New Deal Democracy— C. M. Roberts

4 : the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority

5 : the absence of heridtary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges”

By definition, mob rule is one form of government, but not the only form when it comes to democratic governments. It is one of many forms of democratic governments, including republics.

The American republic is a form of democracy. When the Constitution was created, it was done with limited democracy as the intent, which is where the House of Representatives comes in to play. The rest of the government was free from democracy.

Senators were selected by state legislatures and presidents by the Electoral College. Only the House was intended to be democratic in any way, since there were known dangers of being too democratic, as the French Revolution proved.

As a republican form of government, it is important to know how republic is defined, since there are those who deny republics are democracies.

According to Merriam-Webster, a republic is defined as:

“1a(1) : a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president

(2) : a political unit (such as a nation) having such a form of government

b(1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law

(2) : a political unit (such as a nation) having such a form of government

c : a usually specified republican government of a political unit the French Fourth Republic

2 : a body of persons freely engaged in a specified activity the republic of letters

3 : a constituent political and territorial unit of the former nations of Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, or Yugoslavia”

Since a republic includes a government voted in by citizens to represent them in government, democracy is a crucial part of having a republic. Without democracy, there can be no republican form of government. There must be some democratic underpinning for a republic to exist.

Yes, democracy can be mob rule, but not having mob rule can still be a democratic government. The American republic is one form of democracy. Just like with many other words, democracy is not an either-or situation. There is no mob rule or no democracy, but mob rule as one form of democracy.

Words have meaning with clear definitions. One should understand the full meaning of a given word before assuming something to be true, such as democracy. Mob rule and republics are different forms of democracy. One does not exclude the other.

Bob Ryan is the pen name of a writer who has an MBA. He is an American Christian Zionist who staunchly supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. He has been a weekly blogger at the Times of Israel since 2019.

Graphic credit: Robert Couse-Baker CC BY 2.0 license


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