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What are the basic principles and values of a republic?

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Ryan Wellman eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The most basic principle of a republic is that the power is vested in the people of the country. The key example of this is the electoral process. The will of the people is the lifeline of a republic.

A republic creates a constitution that outlines the rule of law within the country. It is important to remember that, in terms of the United States, the republican form of government is a balance between the monarchy our Founding Fathers faced and a direct democracy.

Another principle of a republic is that representatives wield the political power. (In a direct democracy, the people have the power in all situations.) James Madison was a key proponent of "filtering" the popular voice before it came to power. This is where the importance of elected representatives is found.

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There are a number of defining principles of a republic.

  • A republic is a self-governing state or country in which members of society have the power to elect officials who represent them in government matters. This differs from a pure democracy in which individual people cast votes directly on the issues of importance to society.
  • The officials are elected to serve at the will of the people, and to vote according to the values they are chosen to represent
  • In a republic, there is generally one elected official such as a president, chosen to represent the entirety of the population. This person is not a sovereign ruler such as a king or queen, nor is his or her position based on blood lineage.
  • In addition, in a republic there are different levels of elected officials such as local, state, and national, who represent different groups of constituents. Voting on those who represent the different populations takes places at regularly set intervals.

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