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The tyranny of the majority


John Adams, the second president of the United States, discussed the “tyranny of the majority” in his writings. So did the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville, and English philosopher John Stuart Mill. All of them feared an ochlocracy, or mob rule, which is why the US federal government was designed to have supermajority requirements for many types of votes in the legislature. A supermajority is either three fifths (60 percent) or two thirds (67 percent), depending on the legislative body and what the rules are.

Yesterday, Senate leader Harry Reid (Democrat from Nevada) overturned centuries of precedent by changing the US Senate rules to allow a simple majority vote of 50+1 to approve nominees for federal judges and for cabinet-level positions. This change allows a president whose party is in the majority in the Senate to “stack the courts” with his nominees for judges, which are usually lifetime appointments. This means that one president can steer the lawmaking of the country for decades after that president leaves office.

The supermajority rule accorded respect to the minority party in the Senate by giving them more power than their numbers would normally give them. Now that respect no longer exists. Changing the rules works well for the Democrats in the short run, since up to now their legislative efforts under the Obama regime have largely been stymied, and they believed they had to change the rules to advance their legislative and judicial agenda. Now, with the Democrats’ ability to appoint any federal judge they want, the courts will begin to rule in the Democrats’ favor more and more, under flimsier and flimsier circumstances. This will continue to erode what’s left of the population’s trust in the government and the courts.

Now the only hope for the United States is for the populace to force the Democrats out of power, while the Democrats will continue to try to change the rules so that they can stay in power.

Based on the Democrats’ actions in the Senate yesterday, what is happening in Venezuela now will happen in the United States sooner than I thought. Perhaps 20 years.

Maybe less.

One Comment
  1. 2013-11-24T19:52:04+00:00 19:52

    Do you honestly feel this way? What is meant when you say “Flimsier circumstances” exactly. Apologies, I just need more info.
    Thanks. And great post.


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