Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Tyranny Of The Minority

I've been spending a bit of time this morning wondering whatever happened to American democracy.
What? It's missing?
We never really had it, when you come right down to it. In fact, I think the word "democracy" ought to take offense that America has laid claim to the mantle of being it's most famousest advocate.
Now, I'm not talking about splitting hairs like "republicanism vs. pure democracy." I'm taking it for granted that we live in a republic which is a form of democracy.
Let's face facts: if we had to put every issue up to a vote of 330 million Americans, it would be cumbersome and ultimately nothing would get done. Sort of like Congress only messier.
But in truth, republicanism is a bad form of democracy on its face. Let me throw out a metaphor to explain why I think this.
Let's say you have two digital cameras. One produces pictures 330 million pixels in depth, the other 535 pixels. Which is going to give you a more accurate picture?
Indeed, at the margins, Congress means that close issues are never really going to be decided by a majority vote. See, true democracy means that issues are decided by 50% of the voting population, plus one vote. But winnowing down the voting population from 330 million to 535 people is going to mean an awful lot of decisions are getting lost in the rounding down.
For instance, in one district, let's say 53% of the population agrees with a bill. In another, 60% oppose it. Both districts have equal populations (by definition). In a true democracy, the bill would be defeated. In a representative democracy, the vote is tied assuming the representatives vote according to their constituencies.
We have what I like to call the "tyranny of the minority."
It gets worse.
The Senate, for example, can effectively vote a bill down with the filibuster. The filibuster means that if only 40% of the Senate disagrees with a bill, it's gone. It doesn't matter if 70% of the people would vote for it, all you need are 40 Senators who refuse to even consider it.
Talk about a tyranny of the minority!
Even at the state level, we see this. California, for instance, can't even raise taxes without two-thirds approval by the legislature. That's democracy? That's unAmerican, is what that is: the legislative process is held hostage by a small minority of radicals who legislate strictly on ideology, with no consideration of rationality or even practicality.
Keep that in mind when you cast your vote for President this election cycle. It's about as close to democracy as even America will ever get.