Rule by Pure Democracy, one man one vote.
"...that democracy is almost always nothing but the rule of the ephemeral emotions of the mob. The “rabble is just as tyrannical as one man,"
Is that a universal truth? Do you think us enlightened modern folks can change that truth?
But, GA, wouldn't you prefer the rule of the rabble as a consensus over that of one person or a select group of elites?
In my mind,as a progressive, one man's vote is as good as another's. I avoid the idea that some are more equal than others. The idea of "one man, one vote" keeps everybody humble
So, I disagree, it is not a universal truth, while the opinion of the consensus could well be flawed, it is surely a superior option to any alternative.
Hi Cred, that you can see both can be tyrannical means you are just choosing your tyrant.
The point is that a proper mix of government can prohibit either of those tyrants from taking control.
The man behind that quote thought, (considering his time), the proper mix was a tripartite government of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, (the people). For our times that would equate to Executive, Senate, and legislature/democracy, (the people)
So, what are we driving at, GA?
Are you dissatisfied with the protections already built within our current structure?
Outside the protection of basic rights, i accede to the will of the majority as expressed through the ballot. How does the will of one man or a few supercede the desire of the majority, how is that preferable?
I have no problem with the current arrangement of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches of Government and their perspective roles.
The "people" ultimately hold accountable the Chief Executive and the Legislative branches. I don't see a correlation between monarchy, aristocracy as compared with our Executive and Legislative Branches, as the former are not held accountable by the "people" in any way. Why should the former have any say beyond that of the man in the street?
My point is directed at the recent times push for pure democracy as our governing rule.
To your point that the author's components wouldn't be accountable to the people, I think they would be because neither segment would be absolute. Each would be influenced by the other two.
An example might be Britain's monarchy, (the Queen), and aristocracy, (House of Lordss), and House of Commons, (the people), components of their government.
And to your question; "Why should the former have any say beyond that of the man in the street?", I can only say; "Really"? That man in the street could just as easily be one of those "unenlightened" folks you have spoken of as it could be an educated voter like yourself.
Nope, rule by the "man in the street" would not be my choice.
But, we know in democracies the monarchy has more a traditional and ceremonial role.
The idea it does not sit well having people to rule over me that I, (the people), did not put there.
Why should a monarchy or aristocrats be entitled to special representation? I don't like either one. How do they rate? I loved the French Revolution.
When it comes to the ballot, we are all equal. If you are a citizen over the age of 18, your opinion is just as valid as mine. There are no "better" people when it comes to basic rights.
Would rule by divine Right of Kings, a benevolent dictator or a "selfless" self appointed aristocracy really be your preference?
Geez Cred, you are stuck on this monarchy/aristocracy thing, aren't you?
I wasn't pining for them, I was referring to to the philosophy of a tripartite government, a blend of those three components. Our modern model uses that same blend except for us it is the Executive, Senate, and democracy, (people), and I am fine with that.
My point was to argue against this recent years' trend towards pure democracy. The references I have quoted were from Cicero's time, and the point was that even then the thinkers of the time recognized the dangers of pure democracy.
Does that explanation help? The same support could be shown by quoting our Founders if that would be less confusing.
I too agree that when it comes to the ballet all voices should be equal, but I think we would differ on where and how that ballot is used. For instance, I am against abolishing the Electoral College. It serves as a protection for a minority. Would you support removing that protection?
With all these centuries of wisdom advising against pure democracy isn't it a bit of hubris for us to think we know better?
I was waiting for you to reveal that this is at least partially about abolishing the electoral college. But I am curious, what other proposals or actions are out there that you see as a "trend" toward a pure democracy?
Edit: I don't support a pure democracy, but I also don't think abolishing the electoral college, in and of itself, would substantially change our system from a republic toward a pure democracy.
Damn, just had one of your lost to cyberspace moments. Lost a really good reply. Oh well.
You are on target PrettyPanther. The Electoral College, (EC), was the first thing that came to mind when I read the quote I put in the OP.
I have been reading a series of essays on Cicero's On the Republic and the EC so dominated my first thoughts that I didn't stop to consider others, but as a from the hip shot, I would toss out some red meat by saying something about what I think of the Constitutional amendment that changed our Senate elections from a legislative vote to a popular one.
I disagree with your thought that losing the EC wouldn't substantial affect our Republic. I think it would be disastrous. It would rob small states of their voice in presidential elections. Its effect would be nothing less than to diminish certain members of our republic. That doesn't square with all this equality talk about all votes being equal.
If pure democracy proponents can knock off the big boy, (the EC), imagine how easy it will be to knock down any lessor targets they set their sights on.
I should link you to those essays. They are really good, (and a much easier read than the books themselves). I think you would especially like and agree, (I did and do), with another of Cicero's primary determinations; that a citizen has a moral and reality-based responsibility to their state/society to behave morally and to be both physically and materially supportive to their state/society.
Ok, the idea of a triparte government is fine, as long as the will of the people indirectly controls the occupants of at least 2 branches.
The thinkers of Cicero's time also needed to contemplate the danger of dictatorships and tyranny that comes with the lack of any democratic process. It is not hard for me to recognize which poses the greater danger.
While the founding fathers were learned and far sighted men, by today's standards they would be considered hopelessly elitist.
Good question on the Electoral College.
I support the Electoral College, reluctantly, I might add for two reasons
1. I believe that the idea at conception was a good one as a compromise toward smaller, sparsely populated states.
2. Such a change would require a Constitutional convention, and there are too many red states that stand to benefit in the current system to get the 3/4 of the states approval.
We are just going to have to defeat the Rightwinger and their plans for the country with overwhelming numbers.
But the "red meat" associated with any suggestion of a change to the direct election of Senators is a non starter.
Why am I going to go along with a governors appointing oligarchs, aristocrats as Senators in charge of the more powerful chamber of Congress? My requirement that they answer to the people they represent is absent, or not rigid enough.
Whose interests are these sort really there to serve?
I accept the idea of appointment for the judiciary only due to the fact that their function is performed better in an apolitical environment. That is not so for legislators.
"I accept the idea of appointment for the judiciary only due to the fact that their function is performed better in an apolitical environment."
A competently acting judiciary can ONLY be seen in an apolitical environment. Which we do not have and are not even close to - one has only to look at the 9th circuit court and the percentage of their decisions reversed and to the extreme concern and politicizing over the makeup/appointment of the SCOTUS to see that.
Any suggestions as to how to correct that problem (I don't have any)?
Well, from my perspective, Wilderness, a more egregious example of politicalization was the fact that Senate Majority leader McConnell denied Barack Obama his right as President to fill the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia.
Presidents have the prerogative to appoint justices to the Supreme Court and Circuit court judges.They are going to take into consideration the ideological bent of the nominees, that is to be expected.
The rulings of the 9th circuit court are only disturbing to conservatives. I may well agree with most of their rulings. I may have just as much trouble with other Circuit Courts as being too conservative. These jurors were properly appointed and make rulings based on their interpretation of the Constitution, and as people vary, so do the nature of the decisions. That can apply across the spectrum fro one ideological pole to the other.
It looks like we got that monarchy/aristocracy confusion out of the way, good.
You say you know which of the two tyrannies pose the greatest danger. I take your inference to mean you think the tyranny of the dictator is the worse of the two.
History has shown us what usually happens to dictators and their tyranny, what has it shown us about the tyranny of the Democratic mob?
You spoke earlier of "liking" the French Revolution, how do you feel about the tyranny of those revolutionaries after they ran out of aristocratic heads? When there was no more Blue blood to fill the streets, they began to run with the French blood of folks they declared weren't revolutionary supporters. Then they went for foreigner blood, (particularly the English).
Then the mob's bloodlust was followed by the dictatorship of a Revolutionary Committee, which was followed by another dictatorship of a Directorate, which was then followed by the dictatorship of Napolean.
It is true that there were major reforms and benefits achieved during those times that benefitted the French nation to this day but look at the cost to the citizens and the dictatorial intervals that occurred in that process.
That was the tyranny of the mob. It was supposed to be a democratic movement, but it turned out the only democracy involved was the democracy of mob members. Everyday Jacques had to be as concerned for their heads as the aristocracy had earlier.
Yet, you like that Revolution and think their tyranny was less harmful than that of a dictator.
I must agree that in the end, (years and dictators later), the changes that occurred were good for their nation, but ... I can hardly see anything to like about that process, (could the same changes have been achieved without the intervals of citizen-rule tyranny), and I certainly can see that tyranny as worse. Was Napolean's dictatorship harder on their new Republic? Possibly, or maybe not.
I would hold the opposite position Cred. I can see the tyranny of a dictator as much easier to overthrow than the tyranny of the citizens.
Your comment about thinking the Founders were "elitist," in the context that it was a bad thing is a real bellringer for me. What the hell would you expect, that the farmers of the nation had the knowledge and moral fiber to create a nation with a foundation such as our Constitution? Geez, now look who is sounding elitist. You.
I would bet that it is Hamilton, (he did support aristocratic ideas), that taints the whole bunch for you. I think that idea might change if you looked a little deeper into where his actions showed his heart to be, and how his actions of compromise--when his ideas were not agreed with--benefitted the construction of our Constitution.
I just have to toss it out there one more time for you to consider bud;
"...that democracy is almost always nothing but the rule of the ephemeral emotions of the mob. The “rabble is just as tyrannical as one man,"
The most important thought to contemplate is what Cicero ended with: “The rabble is just as tyrannical as one man," Can you really disagree with that? Don't answer, just think about it.
I will leave that Senate question for a thread of its own. I just tossed it out to get the salivary glands pumping ;-)
Would you consider when there are 10 people and a topic is put up for a vote as to one course of action or another, if 8 out of 10 vote for a course, how is that tyrannical. If one person makes the rules for the other 9, that is another problem. Let's get this out into the open air, shall we? The issue is that conservatives are afraid of participation in the political process by increasing numbers due to this idea of "bread and circuses"? The Electoral rule by the majority is at the foundation of our system, why is it under attack by the Right?
I got carried away with my love for the period (French Revolution) and the characters that removed the heads of royalty, nobility and blood sucking clerics. The fact that things did get out of hand later was unfortunate, but the status quo was unacceptable and the time was ripe for change, and these that were relieved of their heads were not going to step down willingly.
I gave "founders" credit where it was due. Yet, they were not infallible. Why are we in disagreement, I have no beef with the current system and the separation of powers as a necessity for a working government?
Yes, Hamilton was the most concerned about too much democracy, but were any of these men prepared to accept how the meaning and its application was to change?
I resent the word "rabble" used to basically define the preferences of the majority, we all agree to abide by the rule of a majority of voters, how can that be improved upon?
The size and expanse of the republic tempers the vice of tyrannic faction.
Its all in the Federalist Papers. The republic should be not too large and not too small. The US is an example of a good size republic. That's all we have to do: Keep things as they are and put up with the electoral college. it is fair; it is just.
We also have to maintain the way we vote. No Fraud.
Democracies of any kind do not work without the willingness to abide by laws and morals.
Paper # 10
The inference to which we are brought is, that the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS.
If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution. When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens. To secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our inquiries are directed. Let me add that it is the great desideratum by which this form of government can be rescued from the opprobrium under which it has so long labored, and be recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.
By what means is this object attainable? Evidently by one of two only. Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time must be prevented, or the majority, having such coexistent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression. If the impulse and the opportunity be suffered to coincide, we well know that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control. They are not found to be such on the injustice and violence of individuals, and lose their efficacy in proportion to the number combined together, that is, in proportion as their efficacy becomes needful.
From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.
A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union.
The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended.
The Federalist Papers
If 8 vote to gang together, beat and rob the other two, is it tyrannical?
This is what we have seen over and over in our country, perhaps beginning with slavery. Prohibition is another example, gun confiscation is one, prohibiting abortions by some states yet another. My area of the country used to be heavily Mormon, and it was quite difficult to find work or even a place to live if you weren't of the majority religion. Gays still have no housing rights here. The Puritans, very early settlers, used the same method to ensure non-believers did not intrude, following in the same basic footsteps laid down by the Inquisition. Consider how minorities fare in Muslim countries or how native Americans were treated when mobs of Europeans overran their territory. Even how Jews were treated in Germany during the war.
When the majority rules without safeguards for the minority it will always become tyranny. Just ask those on the losing end, that suffer any and all whims of the majority.
Wilderness, you are preaching to the choir, I am a staunch supporter of the Bill of Rights which is designed to preclude abuse of those holding dissenting opinions or any sort of minority position by the majority
Which in turn means that the majority vote cannot be allowed to have total control. That was the point - total democracy, without safeguards, is a nightmare.
Philosophy such as "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" seems to have died in this country, with everyone voting and demanding what they see as good for them personally, and for how they wish to control others. Very few actually concern themselves with what others want or what the country needs; greed, control and selfishness is the name of the game today.
Speaking of getting something into the "open air" I am not approaching this as a "Conservative" principle. I am afraid of pure democracy, but it has nothing to do with increased participation. That you would hang it on that political hook betrays your bias.
Take your own example; What if the 8 were of the lynch mob and the one was the sheriff. Would you still side with the 8?
Also, the electoral rule by the majority is not part of our foundation. Our foundation is constructed to prevent that very majority rule.
The only electoral majority rule of the people is in our process of selecting our representatives. While it is true that our representatives also use majority rule to determine their decisions, their majority rule is prescribed and constrained by our Constitutional rules. Rules that were constructed to protect minorities from the tyranny of rule by the majority.
.Can you see the difference in those two majority rule concepts? The people, (or your lynch mob of 8), have no constraints on their majority rule actions, while both the sheriff and our representatives, (elected by the people's majority rule), have a strict set of constraints on thier actions. Can you point to any part of my comments that can be laid at the door of partisanship?
That "mob rule" mentality was heavy on the Founder's minds when they constructed our dual-house Congress with one house as the raw voice of the people, and the Senate as the more wise mentality of the state. Senators were/are intended to represent the voice of the state, even though they are now chosen by the people, the Constitutional design was for them to be the voice of reason and not passion.
Regarding the French Revolution, we were speaking of the tyranny of pure democracy, and your rationalization was that the consequences were "unfortunate? Geez.
Yes, we all do agree to the rule of the majority ... of our representatives. Of rule makers and deciders that are bound by rules. That is a lot different than rule by a popular majority - there are no rules except the one that says Might Makes Right when it is agreed that "Might" is defined by the number of votes.
Your comments repeatedly use terms clearly defining your majority as the majority of the popular vote. As I noted to your "8 of 10" example, and my legislative majority, the difference in your majority and mine is that I will only trust a majority that is constrained by rules. Your popular vote majority has no constraints. If the popular majority doesn't like a rule - they just gather a majority vote to change it.
So again, what if your 8 of 10 were the majority of a lynch mob, or a majority of wolves deciding on dinner, (obviously the other 2 were sheep). Would you still want rule by majority if you were one of the sheep?
You don't like "rabble," does that mean you think a popular majority acting on the passion of the moment, (remember Jacque?), is sage and wise?
The people have every right to get fired-up and passionate about an issue. And that passion is intended to be carried to the governing process by the House, but it is there that the passion is supposed to be set aside and reason takes over.
You don't get that with rule by a popular majority.
I bet you are still confused about what it is that we are arguing about. Simply put, it is your faith in the concept of a majority vote being the will of the people, and that will is what should be honored. I will point you back, one last time, to the majority will of that lynch mob. I'm with the sheriff.
Just as a side note to put this in your political arena, what label would you put on the majority of voices you have heard complaining about Pres. Trump's Electoral College win?
GA, as for the the will of the eight they are restrained by the bill of rights prescribing that life, liberty or property may not be taken outside of rule of law. So, a majority can not "vote" away basic rights, what else restrained Southern legislatures from simply legislating or a majority of the vote in ballot initiatives from simply voting away the rights of a minority. But, that can't happen.
I believe the system is designed to respond to the will of the majority as expressed through popular sovereignty as the determining factor as to the direction we asa society Want to go. I just say that safeguards must be in place to prevent abuse of that principle. I am like you, I trust a majority who are restrained by the Constitutional provisions, if that were not true the disaffected would have long ago toppled the cookie jar forcing a restart of everything.
I don't consider "the man on the street" as a component of rabble or a mob. Rabble has been used in a negative way to define those other than the "elites", that does not make them unwashed mobs.
We don't argue, GA, we debate.
Protect the interests of the State, how does that differ from the interests of the tax paying rabble that reside therein? I support direct election of senators because they too are to be held accountable to me, and not some set of principles which are not necessarily associated with Constitutional principles, but more a maintenance of a status quo as resistant to change as demanded from the people they are supposed to serve. As, I consider the interests of the "state" and its residents as one in the same. Being carefu and deliberative about change cannot become being resistant just to protect the status quo for its own sake, and my say as to whether they remain in office reminds them of that.
People are upset about the Electoral College as what was once a blue moon when a President was selected based on EC is now increasing in frequency. It is just a bad omen.
Ah, there is no such thing as "enlightened modern folks". We're the same as we've been for thousands of years. We're more advanced in tools, but we're no smarter or better than unenlightened ancient folks.
So my answer is we can't change that truth.
The romanticism of our ancestors, that demanded they put the nation and it's people above themselves, has died in our country - the only thing that matters with it comes to voting is "What's in it for ME?" Greed has overcome us and everything revolves around the "self" rather than the country.
As such, rule by majority without huge safeguards for the minority is untenable. Better a dictator that recognizes that if he goes too far it will crumble than a mob that wants what it wants without regard to anything.
Except for times of extreme crisis--like 9/11--I think you are mostly right Wilderness.
If you remember from an earlier thread the quoted author spoke of 'Liberty vs. License' As a nation, (and surely under pure democracy rule), we have confused the value of Liberty for the gratification of License.
Yes, extreme crisis brings out the best in most of us. Absolutely we have confused the value of liberty for the gratification of license - we have forgotten that there is a price to be paid for liberty, and while blood is often mentioned there it goes far beyond that.
I will offer that we don't debate either Cred. We have discussions. Debates, by nature, promote one side winning by proving the other side wrong. In discussions, both sides can win by achieving a better understanding, even if neither side is persuaded to change their perspective.
So that we don't continue to argue past each other, let me explain the intent of the OP and the point I have been hammering. I am not arguing that you don't abide our Constitutional rules, or that you are a proponent of rule by pure democracy.
PrettyPanther was right; it was thoughts of the Electoral College and the push to change our presidential elections to popular vote elections that got me rolling when I read that Cicero quote in an essay.
For me, it was an 1800-year-old validation of a driving thought of our Constitutional writers.
Think of the issue of rule by popular vote, (pure democracy), like the history of socialism. History has shown over and over that pure socialism doesn't work with humans, just as history--even from ancient times--has shown over and over that rule by pure democracy doesn't work.
It was just a philosophical discussion. I never thought you knowingly supported rule by popular vote. But ... I think anyone's support for changing our system of presidential elections is tacit support for that rule. Even if unknowingly so.
What I see driving this is a modern trend to view our nation as a nation of citizens, not a republic of states.
I thought of another example for you 'majority of 8' that would better tie in the concept of the wisdom of representative government vs rule by popular vote;
Say those 10 people were standing around a gunshot victim. The passion of the 8 says they must put the victim in a car and rush him, (is it always a "he"?), to the hospital. But one of that ten, (previously the sheriff), is a doctor and votes no because if you move him he will bleed out and die.
Still think the will of the majority should rule?
I think the same concept applies to our rule by representatives. The passion of the people, (you know, that rabble), is voiced through the House. Then that passion is tempered by reason with the address of the Senate and the consensus of the House representatives.
But I already know you agree with that. I am just taking small steps to get to the point of a presidential election by popular vote. Without the EC there is no inclusion of reason before the decision, (the rule). The passions of the majority would be the decider.
Now about your point that the interests of a state's citizens and the interest of the state being the same ... What if the passion of the popular vote majority demanded session? Would you consider it in the interest of the state to accede to that majority, or would you instead defer to a process of reason, (the state's legislature), to make the final determination?
It may seem contrary to that point, but I almost agree with you. We had this discussion a year or so back, and it was my contention that representatives are obligated by the very nature of their election to take the will and voice of their constituents all the way to the decision table.
It is only when the good of all is measured against the will of their constituents that they have the moral justification to not honor the voice of their constituents. In that example of session, it should be easy to see that session would not serve the good of all.
Speaking of that EC "blue moon" frequency, imagine how those less populated states that made the difference would feel if their voice didn't matter at all.
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