Our Republic is dependent on our Representatives in Washington D.C., listening to and abiding by the will of the majority. It does not work when the will of the people is ignored and denied.
The last several years has witnessed a complete breakdown of majority rule. Respect for our institutions has diminished substantially and Congress in particular has seen its approval ratings at an all time low
Those individuals who helped form our government during the days when our Constitution was written and debated, were concerned by the prospect of a tyranny of the majority.
In the “Letters of Agrippa,” the author stated that, ” a bill of rights serves to secure the minority against the usurpation and tyranny of the majority.”
Alexis de Tocqueville posed the question of what is worse a tyranny of the majority or a tyranny of the minority.
Any form of tyranny is unacceptable, but I would argue that a tyranny of the minority is worse, especially if your form of government is based upon republican principles where the rule of the majority is critical in keeping the governed happy.
Thomas Jefferson spoke to this issue when in speaking to the citizens of Annapolis in 1809, he said, “When the law of the majority ceases to be acknowledged, their government ends; the law of the strongest takes its place, and life and property are his who can take them.”
When this happens and we see it happening today, anarchy, despotism and totalitarianism are the possible result. A minority now argues that their way is the only way. Their actions or inactions say that unless you do things my way, we will close down the government and extort concessions from the majority. Our system of government can not function if the majority of our citizens is not listened to or heeded in their wants and needs. A minority dictating to the majority is no longer a democracy or a republican form of government that the Greeks or the founders of our nation would recognize.
In a letter to J. Sullivan in 1807, Thomas Jefferson said,” Without union of action and effort in all its parts, no nation can be happy or safe.” Who among us can claim that there is any union of action when laws are passed that the minority disagrees with and even though the law is now the law of the land, a minority of our government continually works to sabotage the ACA. How can government function if a minority in Congress acts in such a manner, that whatever law is passed the minority’s actions or inactions are to ensure that the laws are not faithfully executed? Is this nothing but a tyranny, a tyranny that if it is allowed to continue will end our Republic?
Government, our government derives its power from the consent of the governed. For our government to work well, those who consent need to be informed and educated sufficiently in knowing and understanding their rights. We can not blame the government for the failure of the electorate to be adequately informed. A good education is key to our being able to carry on our traditions of freedom. For without an understanding of what our rights are how can we know when an attempt is being made to take them away? One wonders how many of our fellow citizens has ever read the Constitution, let alone understand what it means.
Jefferson in a letter sent by him when he was in Paris in 1787, said ” The people can not be all, and always, well-informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceived. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.” “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
Today, I believe, we are seeing a tumultuous struggle between those who believe in majority rule and a vocal and all-knowing, minority who claim to be fighting for principle.
This is, as a nation, our moment that Jefferson talked about when he mentioned that the tree of liberty would need to be refurbished and perhaps replanted to grow anew. In essence we are fighting now to refresh the tree of liberty against the forces who would deny the majority their rights.
Reason can never justify accepting a government ruled by a minority. We fought for our independence against such a tyranny when the British sought to rule by their minority, their royal minority.
We see the wish of the Tea Party to exert their will in areas which our Bill of Rights protect us against. Some would seek to have a state religion. Our first amendment sets up a wall of separation between church and state.
Religious zealots claim that Insurance companies should not cover contraception, while these zealots find nothing wrong with insurance companies paying for pills that would allow a man to be able to function. This insistence on a particular religious view, the view that an insurance company paying for birth control pills is somehow against their religious principles is a tyranny imposed upon women who should be able to choose whether or not to use contraception.
In poll after poll, citizens want sensible gun safety laws. The numbers are staggering, as between 80 to 90% want gun safety and seek to close gun show loopholes so that we reduce the chances that felons and individuals with mental problems have a harder time buying a gun. But no, the wishes of we the people go ignored and the senseless acts of violence go unanswered.
Alexander Hamilton in Federalist # VI wrote about how we should choose to be disunited or not. We are a nation. When states seek to nullify federal intent by deciding not to cover their citizens who are impoverished by not using Medicaid, they are exerting a tyranny of a minority on those who are sick.
Thomas Jefferson once again, spoke of the importance of majority rule when he posed the question,” And where else do we find the origin of just power, if not in the majority of society? Will it be in the minority? Or in an individual of the minority?” Thomas Jefferson to J. Cartwright in 1824.
When a minority makes the rules to fit just themselves you no longer have a democracy but rather you have oppression, and the suppression of the rights of the majority.
When considering the ACA or Obamacare, think of what Jefferson said in a letter to W. Duane in 1811. He said, ” If the measure which have been pursued are approved by the majority it is the duty of the minority to acquiesce and conform.”
The ACA was pretty much a re-written Nixon proposal in the early 1970’s. During the early moments of the Obama administration, some Republicans in the Senate were supportive, until the Minority Leader and other Republicans leaders decided to be against all of the legislative initiatives that President Obama would propose.
The ACA was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. It was then challenged as being unconstitutional, but the United States Supreme Court affirmed it’s constitutionality. But no, in contrast to Thomas Jefferson’s wise counsel of how our system is supposed to work, we are witnessing an all out effort to make sure that the ACA fails. The right-wing refuses to acquiesce to the will of the majority.
Elections have consequences, and President Obama won the election. One of his key campaign promises was to bring health insurance to millions of Americans who did not have it. Republicans lost the election and they lost the vote in Congress and in the Supreme Court but that does not seem matter as they refuse to accept the will of the majority.
America wanted the security of being insured against illness, and the removal of pre-existing conditions and they still want to be insured against the possibility of a financial disaster if someone got sick and they did not have health insurance.
As Thomas Jefferson so wisely said, “Majority rule is the first principle of republicanism yet it is the last which is thoroughly learnt.”
The use of political extortion and the failure to accept the law of the land puts all of our rights in jeopardy. Laws exist to help maintain our equality. Montesquieu, once said, that men are born equal and that society makes them lose it. Well, it is up to us, the citizens of the United States to keep the tree of liberty watered and well fed. We must repudiate the tyranny of the minority that we are now experiencing. We only have one choice and that is to re-affirm majority rule and to vote out of office those who would seek the end of government as we know it.