Republic vs. Democracy?

Anyone who has listened to my Podcast or read my material knows I am hard on most “establishment” historians, and for good reason.

They don’t do much that is worthy of any accolades, let alone the prestigious awards some of them are handed annually.

You might say to yourself, “McClanahan, you are just jealous they aren’t reading your stuff.” Nope.

Most of these people are careerists, and by careerists I mean that they will say whatever is fashionable to get people to publish their deconstructionist garbage.

I won’t play that game.

Some of these historians become media figures and write for popular publications or appear on popular news shows and other programs.

Lindsay Chervinsky fits this category. She has written a well received book on George Washington’s cabinet and has labeled herself an “expert” on presidential history and the founding period.

She also writes a weekly column for The Hill along with her own newsletter on Substack, and she has a fairly popular social media presence.

She is popular because she is good at “peopleticking”, but her “scholarship” isn’t that grand.

In fact, it’s downright awful in most instances, particularly from someone who claims to be an “expert.”

She recently scribbled a piece for her newsletter on “democracy” where she attempted to clarify the “republic vs. democracy” debate common among American politicos.

But as usual, she flubbed the entire question. It’s almost as if she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

You see, Chervinsky hasn’t figured out that the “republic vs. democracy” debate is the wrong dichotomy. The United States government is a “federal republic” with delegated or enumerated powers, a republic of republics so to speak. To classify it as a singular “republic” would make it like France. It has never been so.

Americans do enjoy more direct democracy at the local level, but most of our governments are representative. That was her point. Representative does not mean anti-democratic. I agree, but it is also misleading to think that the United States central government is anything other than a federal republic.

Chervinsky is part of the educational problem in America. If we are going to “fix” American political culture, we need to ditch the Lincolnian understanding of the founding period and embrace what the founding generation actually called the general government, a “confederation.” Hamilton himself used that term in the Federalist, as did other members of the founding generation.

I discuss this incorrect “republic vs. democracy” dichotomy on episode 550 of The Brion McClanahan Show.

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