Is the U. S. a true democratic country?

I take this question to mean, "Is the U. S. governed, as Abraham Lincoln famously said, by the people?". I will answer from that point of view. It is a vexing question because reality differs from perception.

Many Americans perceive the U. S. to be democratic. For those who believe, that perception is their reality. They don't want to hear they are wrong, in part because the belief is gratifying to those who hold it. There is pride in saying "My country is democratic." More than that, the perception is embedded in our people with innumerable tentacles of habit and myth that have a firm grip on their minds - but that does not make them right.

For those who believe America to be democratic, they are merely accepting 'facts' that 'everyone knows'. Many, particularly those injured by such a belief, will say they (those who hold the belief) should have known better. That's silly. It's like saying Nebuchadnezzar should have known the earth was round. Eradicating incorrect beliefs requires knowledge and reason; two hard-earned qualities.

I am as prone to incorrect beliefs as anyone. When I am able to overcome them, it's because I've made a conscious effort to apply reason to my experiences. One instance involved conquering the belief that the party-based political system in the United States is democratic. Not only is that incorrect, it is a powerful belief that lets a few people control our nation.

It took me a long time to realize that, when partisan groups tell me who I can vote for, they deny me the right to help select my own representatives in government. Gradually, I learned that by controlling the choices I could make, the parties controlled my destiny. Finally, I understood what George Washington meant when he warned us that political parties would become "potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government".

When the so-called "people's representatives" are controlled by the party that enables their election, it is foolhardy to think they represent the interests of the people who elected them. Our early political leaders created the illusion that letting the people vote for one partisan power-seeker or another was a democratic process. That myth has become one of the most destructive tools in the bag of political manipulation.

No, the U. S. is not a democratic country. Democracy is a bottom-up concept and party-based systems are always top-down. The U. S. won't be democratic until we find a way to let the people select the issues they want resolved and choose the representatives they believe best able to resolve them. That will be government by the people.

For those who wonder about the feasibility of a truly democratic government, I have described one possible way to accomplish it. It is built on the work of prominent academics, like Jane Mansbridge, Archon Fung, Stafford Beer, Daniel Ortiz, Robert Michels, Drew Westen, Mostapha Benhenda, John Rawls and a multitude of others. It's called Practical Democracy and is available at:

Your criticism of the concept will be welcome.