GOP REP. GIVES AL SHARPTON A CONSTITUTIONAL LESSON DURING ON-AIR BATTLE — BUT WAS HE RIGHT?
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Al Sharpton clashed on MSNBC Thursday night while debating Republican-led efforts to defund Obamacare. While much of the conversation was characterized by the typical partisan bickering on the health care front, one point of contention in the back-and-forth stands out.
At one point, Sharpton asked how defunding efforts square with democratic ideals. The congressman responded by attempting to correct the “Politics Nation” host — he said the U.S. government is actually a republic.
“What people don’t understand, congressman, is how we pass laws the Supreme Court upholds and you guys come in and say, ‘We’re not going to fund it and even worse, if money goes there, we’ll shut the whole government down,’” Sharpton said. “We thought we lived in a democracy. … Come on, congressman. That’s not what the country is supposed to be about.”
So, who’s correct?
Let’s take a brief look at how Encyclopedia Brittanica defines democracy: “literally, rule by the people. The term is derived from the Greek dēmokratiā, which was coined from dēmos (“people”) and kratos (“rule”) in the middle of the 5th century bc to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens.”
And Dictionary.com defines it as “a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.”
A republic, in contrast, is defined by Brittanica as follows:
form of government in which a state is ruled by representatives of the citizen body. Modern republics are founded on the idea that sovereignty rests with the people, though who is included and excluded from the category of the people has varied across history. Because citizens do not govern the state themselves but through representatives, republics may also be distinguished from direct democracy, though modern representative democracies are by and large republics.