Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Final Solution: Majority Rules?

The Bill of Rights
Democracy functions on the notion of majority rules, but there are all kinds of interventions. For instance, the constitution allows everyone one the right to vote, but the Bill of Rights provides for inalienable rights--moral imperatives that transcend the will of the crowd. Here is where populism runs aground. It takes its impetus from democracy’s mandate of the majority, but places little value on the individual. If Congress were an energy company then the due process usually a function of the judiciary would be  regulation. In a polarized political maelstrom like the near civil war in which the United States finds itself, it’s hard to abide or even hear the call to principles amidst the din and fury of restless factions. In fact, this very situation was the one which the original founders were legislating in their writing of the early documents of a fledgling democracy. The idea of an electoral college which ironically brought Trump to power when he had less than a majority of the vote, is an attempt to protect against the abuse of democracy. The energy metaphor can also be literally applied. When you think of it the deployment of millions of people through elections was very much like unleashing the power of the atom, but atomic power plants have famously suffered from meltdowns like the ones at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. However rugged, down home or grass roots the electorate, democracy insures that power will go to right places by way of a delicate and often subtle latticework of mechanisms that act like car insurance to provide both for liability and collision. It's these protections that are threatened in the kind of populist uprisings which have threatened democratic institutions and processes not only in the United States, but in England and Europe.

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