Argue your case, not semantics
At the behest of Ann Mitchell (letter, Sunday), I read Walter Williams’ column “Confusing our republic for a democracy” (Opinion, Sept. 10). I am not impressed. Williams is making the argument I see a lot of conservatives make against proposed changes to how we elect a president.
He makes the semantic argument that we are not a democracy but a republic. This is bad because words can mean whatever anybody wants them to mean.
When conservatives make this argument they usually define democracy as a system where the people are directly involved in making the laws. Or they define it as a system where the majority can vote to violate your rights. Neither describes the government of the United States completely.
“Democracy” is defined as a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. This is usually what I mean when I use the word democracy to describe the United States, and it may be how a lot of people use the word. I would challenge conservatives to tell me this definition of the word democracy does not describe the government of the United States.
My advice to people who use this argument is that if you want to defend things like the electoral college, then just defend it. Please don’t use semantic arguments.
— Noble Thomas, Jefferson