One of the biggest fallacies of the American political system is the idea of rule by majority. Both the ideas that the majority does in fact rule and that it is right for the majority to rule are untrue.
Democracy is one of the most dangerous and irrational methods by which to govern. One of the biggest misconceptions of modern political thought is that the United States was a nation founded on the ideal of democracy.
Fortunately it wasn’t, but unfortunately popular opinion is pushing it in that direction.
Majority rule does not occur in the United States simply because of how the first-past-the-post election system works.
Consider a scenario in which there are five candidates running for a position. Say the GOP nomination to run for president.
Assume that four of the candidates each win 15 percent of the votes cast for them, while the fifth one wins 40 percent. He may have won more than the other individual candidates, but that means that 60 percent of the people voting did not want him to win.
The minority trumped the majority, and now the nominee for the Republicans is someone like John McCain, and nobody really wants to be represented by John McCain.
Democracy is based on the principle that if most of the people want it, it has to be right. This idea is an example of the logical fallacy of appealing to popularity.
Just because lots of people support something does not prove that it is what is right.
An example of how democratic rule does not lead to moral decisions is the United States prior to the Civil Rights movement.
Segregation was enforced through local and state laws because the majority desired this.
The minority was taken advantage of despite that what the majority was doing was blatantly wrong.
To use an analogy to illustrate this further, democracy is like two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
Those who founded this country and drafted our Constitution knew of the dangers of democracy. This is why they formed two houses of Congress.
Originally, Senators were elected by state legislatures and were to serve as the voice of experience in the national government.
Representatives in the House were selected by popular vote in each state, and they were meant to serve as the voice of the common man at the federal level.
Both houses had seemingly equal power, so both those who were experienced and those who represented the opinions of the people had equal clout, hopefully avoiding the dangers of both oligarchy and democracy.
Unfortunately, the 17th Amendment changed the way in which the Senate is elected.
This amendment made it so that senators were chosen through direct election, just like House Representatives.
This effectively defeated the purpose of having two different houses.
Two houses existed and were selected in different ways in order to slow down the law-making process, as those who drafted our Constitution were aware that laws only limit personal freedom and allow for governing officials to take advantage of the powerless, the minority.
In order to truly defend minorities and preserve individual liberty, it would be wise of our leaders to call for a repeal of the 17th Amendment, lest we suffer the tragedy that is democracy.
Comments or concerns about this column can be emailed to [email protected]