By Anthony Gregory | Friday May 18, 2012 at 4:28 PM PDT
“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” — H. L. Mencken
Mass democracy and individual liberty do not mix, despite the propaganda. Surely, if a majority can vote against the rights of the minority, the libertarian case against democracy becomes clear enough. This is why so many who favor democracy embed within its definition the concept of certain basic civil liberties of the minority protected against mob rule. Thus 60% of the population voting to exterminate a small minority would be considered “anti-democratic.” Yet if 60% vote merely to loot the minority, it would be considered undemocratic to stand in the way. Who it is who decides which rights are up for majority vote and which are not is always a difficult question to resolve.
In practice, you cannot have true majority rule for everything. The reason is obvious. Everyone would be voting all the time on all matters, no matter how trivial. So who decides what is being voted on? A democratic system cannot help but result in a power elite in practice. Mass democracy must be filtered through some sort of legal and political structure—and what results is essentially a ruling oligarchy.
Nor is the idea of a “republic” as being distinct from a “democracy” nearly as meaningful as is often assumed. Many will protest that the United States is not a democracy. It is a republic—or, it should be. The two words share much in etymology and meaning. A republic is a “state in which supreme power rests in the people.” That’s essentially what a democracy is.
Continued @ The Independent Institute
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