America started out as a republic where political enfranchisement wasn't universal but instead exclusive to what were in effect a landed aristocracy of responsible property owners. Originally, America was a nation of settlers and frontiersmen hailing from maybe five different nations abroad. Instead of inheriting much land, they claimed it, cleared it and built upon it from scratch.
It was only between the grown men of this group for which the constitutional idea of political equality and liberty were designed to function in the new nation. Hence, I usually refer to this form of government not as a representative democracy but as an aristocratic republic where the politically enfranchised each could legitimately claim an objective, long-term interest in the land and its lawful inhabitants.
The universally enfranchised of today need not bear the burden of such an interest except perhaps to register for the draft. In other words, one's provable interest in the nation is sometimes merely compulsory, obligatory and state administered. It doesn't in many cases come from the heart for love of family, homestead, neighbors and extended kinships; things people will gladly die for. That should be (and was) the standard for authority and liberty in a human society.
We've settled for far less instead in our mass democracy of today. Any warm body will do, with practically any motive. This low standard is reflected in the general moral character and intellectual condition of the nation of equals today.