Democracy vs. Republic

Contributor: Jodi Powell. Lesson ID: 10722

"Democracy!" "Constitutional Republic!" "Democracy!" "Constitutional Republic!" Watch videos, read articles, write, and create a poster to settle the question of which identifies the U.S. government!


United States

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands..."

We pledge our allegiance to the Republic, but haven't we always been taught that the United States is a democracy? Actually, the word "democracy" is not found once in the U.S. Constitution!

What's the difference between a republic and a democracy anyway? Let's dive in, so we can knowledgeably answer questions about our country's system of government.

Democracy vs. Republic

If you're a little confused by the differentiation between a republic and a democracy, you're not alone!

Most Americans are perplexed by this as well. So, what's the answer? Is the United States a democracy or a republic? First, let's define each.

Democracy defines democracy as follows:

  • "A democracy is a government run by the people. Each citizen has a say (or vote) in how the government is run. This is different from a monarchy or dictatorship where one person (the king or dictator) has all the power." 

Read the rest of the article "U.S. Government: Democracy" for a more detailed description. Then watch the video Democracy - A short introduction (below):


Ok, now that you have a handle on what the concept and ideals of a democracy are, lets take a look at republic.

Republic defines republic as

  • "a form of government in which the people elect, or choose, their leaders. In most countries with a republican government, the people elect the head of the government, such as a president. They also elect other people, called representatives, to make laws." points out an important distinguishing fact about a republic:

  • "[A republic is a] government using some kind of charter or constitution. This document would state the limits of the government and the basic rights of all people. You would do this to make sure that the rights of a few people are not overrun, or taken over, by a majority, or greater number of citizens."

For a side-by-side comparison of the two, read the article "Democracy vs. Republic" ( Read through the whole article because it contains a wealth of information. Don't miss the great videos provided in the article as well!

Finish by watching one last informative video, Republic vs. Democracy:


Let's summarize what we've learned.

The United States is not a pure democracy. In a pure democracy, majority rules. The U.S. is referred to as either a representative democracy or a democratic republic. In a republic, it is the law that rules rather than the majority. In a republic (the U.S.), citizens do not directly vote on laws. Citizens vote for representatives, who will in turn vote on the laws for the people.

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