The Need for Real Majority Rulernby Clyde WilsonrnDemocracy, Churchill is supposed to have said, is a very unsatisfactoryrnform of government—only it’s better thanrnany other kind that has been tried. If man cannot be trusted torngovern himself, Jefferson wrote, how can he be trusted to governrnothers, which was a definitive reply to the elitism of Hamiltonrn(and all of Hamilton’s successors). C.S. Lewis defendedrndemocracy in the same way as Jefferson, from a Christian perspective.rnThese sentiments reflect conclusions based upon commonrnsense and common decency. All things considered, it is betterrnfor the community to choose those who exercise power; andrnonce chosen, it is better for the rulers to exercise power in accordancernwith the sense of community than against it. But, givenrnthis sensible agreement upon proceeding, there is no need tornindulge in the too common American proclivity of sanctifyingrnthe democratic process. Majority rule is a good thing, but thernvoice of the people is not neccssarih’ or even usually the voicernof God.rnMore seriously, majority rule is not as clear a concept as mayrnat first appear, and there are many problems in its definitionrnand application. Like making war, love, or monc, and all otherrnimportant human activities, making a majorit. the realrnthing, is an art, not a simple utilitarian matter of counting papersrnin a box.rnOf course, politicians have been busy distorting and discreditingrnmajority rule ever since it was invented, and the meaningrnof “democracy” has been hopelessly compromised b’ bad usagernin this centurw Nearly every state in the world is now arn”democracy,” except for our masters, the Kuwaitis. Justice WilliamrnBrennan believed it was “democracy” when he issuedrnClyde Wilson is a professor of American history at the Universityrnof South Carolina.rnorders defined by himself, to be obeyed by all, even though theyrnwent against not only the will of the majority but against law,rntradition, history, and reason as well. Far better to stick with thernold American concept of republicanism, which means simply arngovernment resting on the consent of the people.rnBut what do we mean by “people”? What do we mean bvrn”majority”? Americans appear to concentrate lately muchrnmore on the choosing of our rulers—the counting of ballots—rnand much less on whether, once chosen, they rule in accordrnwith the sense of the community. But what was heinous aboutrnthe totalitarian dictatorships of this century was not so muchrnthe wa’ their leaders were chosen as the unrestrained powersrnthey exercised in office.rnIn fact, in our federal goernment, even when decisions arernnot made by judges and bureaucrats (as they often are), theyrnare made by coalitions of interests, not by the sense of the majorityrnof the people in any way our Founders would recognize.rnDeliberation was essential to the Founders—debate that, if itrndid not lead to complete agreement, educated all sides and promotedrnunderstanding and concession and a higher consensus.rnThe intended design of the Constitution was to check and refinernmajorities—not to defeat them but to insure that theyrnwere real and solid and not mere temporary expressions of passionsrnor selfish interests. And every controlling majority in thernConstitution was federally weighted to give recognition to thernsmaller states.rnThis was a rather different thing, and a better rendering ofrnmajority rule than the counting of heads queued up by partyrnwhips and lobbyists. Our Congress is not a deliberative or eenrna legislative body—it is only a continually shifting bipartisanrncollection of successful pork-barrclers. True debate and deliberationrndisappeared long ago, when the goernment becamernchiefly a matter of dispensing favors to some at the expensernNOVEMBER 1996/21rnrnrn