The United States is not a democracy at all: rather, it is a republic. The majority of its voters cannot rule to enslave the minority: democratic decision-making is relegated to mundane matters while the core values are closed to voting. Even if the majority of Americans were to vote tomorrow to amend the Bill of Rights with a clear permission of slavery and remove some of the most obvious protections against it, the Supreme Court would amass circumstantial legislation to overturn the citizens’ decision. And if it did not, then it would no longer be America as we know it. Not incidentally, communists changed the official names of the states they took over: a country with a drastically changed social order is no longer the same.

The American values guarded by republicanism are far from universal or self-evident. So far are they from self-evident that a little more than a century ago slavery was rather popular, and only decades ago the blacks were discriminated against and women had no voting rights. Nor are their economic values universal: Swedes and communists chose social guarantees over private enterprise. The exact balance between social and private needs is a matter of societal preference. Even in the Soviet Union, private enterprise lingered in cottage industries, and even the wild capitalist societies of the early nineteenth century had basic welfare programs.

Religious values play an important role in most democracies. Some, such as Britain, do not even separate church from state. The United States’ legislation appeals to God rather than to the idols and deities of America’s indigenous population. In Sweden, which is now full of Muslims, holidays still follow the Christian canon. A significant portion of the United States’ citizens are polytheists (Hindu), given to ancestral worship (Chinese), or idolatry (Puerto Ricans), but it is still inconceivable for an American president to erect idols in the White House just like he pompously celebrates Jewish Pesach.

The ethnic-blindness of modern democracies is a fiction. Many of them have ethnic repatriation programs: Japanese, Greeks, Germans and other nations welcome back their compatriots on terms highly preferential compared to other ethnic groups. Many countries perform low-profile discrimination: the United States has different immigration quotas for various parts of the world; as you can guess, the African quota is low. Interestingly, many countries substitute economic for overtly ethnic discrimination; thus, Canada admits immigrants of particular professions not common in sub-Saharan Africa or among African immigrants in the West in general. The EU strenuously opposed Turkey’s bid to enter the union: naturally, Europeans resist being swarmed by Turkish migrants, although they are okay with Polish hordes.

Liberalism similarly has its boundaries, at least for the time being. Perfectly consensual polygamy and bestiality are banned, though their functional equivalents, adultery and homosexuality, are allowed. Courts won’t uphold someone’s right to sell himself into slavery or commit assisted suicide. Public nudity, a harmless activity, is universally prohibited. Wartime censorship abounds, terrorists are denied due process that would make conviction impossible for the lack of firm evidence, and hate-mongering against hostile states is pervasive.

Democracy and liberalism are both viable and convenient if we consider their practical implementations rather than academic varieties.