Is the U.S. a Democracy?
The Texas Board of Education recently approved new social studies standards and, as you might have heard, they are controversial. I have been following the controversy, ahem, religiously, and I oppose pretty much everything they are doing.
But, I thought a couple of the changes they made were improvements. For one thing, they added Milton Friedman as one of the economists that the kids have to study. This makes sense given how influential he has been and given the amount of respect he gets from other economists (even Krugman has written good things about his work). The other point I agreed with was to refer to the U.S. as something other than a democracy. The term they chose, constitutional republic, is more accurate than simply referring to us as a democracy, and indeed that term has been turned into a blivet (ten pounds of sh*t in a five pound sack).
While there’s nothing wrong with referring to the U.S. as a constitutional republic, another term I would like to see is liberal democracy. Of course, when I use the phrase “liberal democracy” I mean liberal in its classical sense. Together, these two words would not only describe the U.S. well, but also most of Europe. It describes a government structured to effect the peoples’ freedom, without being too specific about the exact nature of the structures (parliamentary, federalist, etc.). I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this.
One last point on the Texas social studies standards: aside from these items (and perhaps a couple I’m not thinking of) the Texas standards are atrocious!! Removing Thomas Jefferson from the curriculum and replacing him with John Calvin? Saying that the U.S. was founded on Christian values rather than Enlightenment values? Those standards should have been issued with a laugh track.
Update (Rob): My apologies. As Boyd pointed out in comments, I made an error with regard to the science standards. I have removed it from the post.