Most United States citizens would
call our form of government a Democracy. Really, like the ancient Romans, we
are considered a Republic. In a Democracy, the majority rules. In a Republic,
the people voice their opinion by electing a representative to go into
government for them. A Republic has a constitution, is ruled by law, and the
minority groups are better represented. With a pure democracy, a minority group
can be ignored when the majority doesn’t care about them and the laws don’t
In a Republic, the constitutions
generally allow for freedom of religion, voting rights for all citizens, and
the representatives that are voted into office work together to create the laws
and regulations that govern the people.
In both Republics and Democracies decisions are made by voting, but in a
Republic, one vote does not always have as much weight as another. For example,
this is why Donald Trump was the Electoral College and Hillary Clinton won the
popular vote. In the case, Trump one more representatives as part of the
Republic form of government and Clinton won more votes. If we were a pure
Democracy, Hillary Clinton would be president.
Both the United States and Rome began with
overthrowing a different form of government. The United States went to war with
the British and won their independence from the Monarchy, and in Roman times
the Romans overthrew the Etruscans. When they set up their governments, all
males over the age of 15 were allowed a vote and considered citizens. In the United States, at first just white men
were citizens, and then later there were laws passed that eventually granted
all people born in the United States citizenship and the right to vote, plus
immigrants could become citizens.
In both the Roman and U.S.
governments, the representatives that were voted in could create laws, and
there were checks and balances for power. Usually, there were two sides. Like
in the U.S. we have Democrats and Republicans, in the Roman Republic, they had
Patricians and Plebeians. Both sides can have different ideas, but the idea is
to compromise so that the people each side represents get some of what they
want. The other similarity between the Roman Republic and the United States
government is that wealthier people are more likely to get elected because they
have the money to campaign and become well-known to the voters.
There are differences between the
Roman government and the United States government. The United States elects a
President, who is one person that is the Head of State for four years. The
Roman government elected two consuls that served a term of one year together.
Each month the consul would rotate as an “Imperium”, the person in charge.
Although, once an Emperor was in place in 27 BC, the Imperium didn’t have much
real power. The Roman government does allow for a Dictator to take power. The
United States does not.
The United States also has a
Judicial branch of government. The Judicial branch of the U.S. government makes
sure that the laws the representatives create are in line with the constitution
and then helps interpret the constitution when people disagree with what it
means. Our District Courts and the Supreme Court make sure that the rule of law
is followed and applied equally. They are nominated by the President.
Finally, one of the biggest
differences is that Roman Senators served their term for life. U.S. Senators
serve a term of only six years, and some people think that is still too long.
In the U.S. if you do not like your representative, you can vote them out of
office instead of being stuck with them for life.