Majority Rule Cannot Suffice

“The writings of the Founding Fathers of the American Union indicate that these political architects approached democracy with a spirit of reservation. Though revolutionaries by historic circumstance, they were capable enough of philosophy to see these dilemmas. The Federalist authors especially were aware that simple majority rule cannot suffice because it does everything without reference; it is an expression of feeling about the moment at the moment, restrained neither by abstract idea nor by precedent. They therefore labored long and with considerable cunning to perfect an instrument which should transcend even the lawmaking body. This was the Constitution, which in the American system stands for political truth. It is not an unchangeable truth, but the framers placed special obstacles in the way of change. It was hoped that the surmounting of these would prove so laborious and slow that errors would be exposed and the permanently true recognized. In this way they endeavored to protect the populace of a republic against itself. Their action is a rebuke to the romantic theory of human nature, and this will explain why the Constitution has proved so galling to Jacobins. They regard it as a type of mortmain, and during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt its interpreters were scornfully termed, in an expression indicative of the modern temper, ‘nine old men.'”

– Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences (pp. 47-48)

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4 thoughts on “Majority Rule Cannot Suffice”

  1. Throughout the Federalist Papers, the reasons behind making the U.S. a Republic instead of a Democracy are explained, with historical references to examples from ancient Greek city states, etc. A democracy is mob rule which can quickly transition to dictatorship, whereas a republic is a representative government based on a rule of law. The differences can sometimes be subtle, and often exploited for political gain in our modern society of short attention spans.
    The subject you are touching on with this quote is expertly explained at greater length in Thomas Sowell’s book “A Conflict of Visions.” I highly recommend it.
    -Ben

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