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Tyranny of the Majority

Federalist #63:

"so there are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn."

Democracy has two facets, one brilliant and one vile:

  • The brilliant aspect of democracy is Wisdom from the Many. The book, The Wisdom of Crowds, provides many examples of how the aggreated wisdom of all of us, with each of us acting in our own self-interest, is wiser than the wisest of us at choosing between choices.
  • The vile aspect of democracy is Tyranny of the Majorty. In America, this characteristic accounts for slavery, annhilation of the American Indians, Jim Crow Laws, and mortgaging the liberty and labor of every child in America to $59,734 (July 16, 2016) in Federal debt without consent.

Following is a 30 minute presentation on:

  • How the Constitutiion was written to use Wisdom from the Many while limiting Tyranny of the Majority.
  • How the 17th Amendment unleashed Federal consolidation of power and Tyranny of the Majority.
  • Civilization Killers created by violating the Constitution.
  • How the Constitution can be used to mitigate these Civilization Killers.

Illustration of the Constitution's Divided Sovereignty

The 17th Amendment unleashed Trynnay of the Majority to create Civilization Killers.


Federalist #45 (Madison):

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State."

Federalist #51 (James Madison):

"It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure."

Factions forming a majority and imposing tyranny on the minority was viewed as the greatest threat to the survival of republican, popular government.

Benjamin Franklin: "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"

Thomas Jefferson: "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."

John Adams: "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."

John Quincy Adams: "Democracy has no forefathers, it looks to no posterity ; it is swallowed up in the present, and thinks of nothing but itself."

Many factions in a large republic, having diverse commercial and other interests in the internal functioning of the States, was deemed essential to protecting Liberty from the ills of factions and the tyranny of the majority. It was in fact the adding of States that finally broke the corruption of slavery.

Federalist #10 (Madison):

“AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.”

“Hence it is that democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths... A republic, by which I mean a government in which a scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking."

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