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How did the founding fathers feel about the nature of majority and democracy?

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βˆ™ 2007-06-16 18:48:27

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Realize that Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and other Founders were very well-read in political theory at the time. They saw democracy as a vast improvement over British Monarchy, but had reservations. They did not believe there should be divisive political parties, hypocritically. They did not believe every man was entitled to a vote. They wanted to to build a nation with authority in "...the Republic, for which it stands...", not mob rule. They tended to trust legislatures, which had worked so well in the American Colonies for over a hundred years, as being superior to pure democracy or a near dictatorship.

They chose a loose Legislature as the chosen form of government under the Articles of Confederation. With the Constitution, they chose a mix of Authoritarian, Oligarchical, and Republican forms of government in the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches, respectively. This design was to prevent a majority of political power. They DID NOT INCLUDE DEMOCRACY because they saw it led to a rule by the majority, among other problems:

The will of the majority will not represent itself well. In a democracy (not an elected republic) the majority will more than likely be effectively lied to, intimidated, abstain or defer to a will that is not theirs. If 1,000 people are free to democratically express their will with, say, small clay disks, then that is a vote. Take for example the vote of Spartans, in the first large democracy, deciding whether to dispatch gifts to Dalmatia. Most citizens are of the opinion "No, don't send anything" while a minority wish to "Send something." The implications and details involved in the decision are huge, but most Spartans would not even think of them. (Sparta was militaristic, isolationist, and rustic to a fault.) Just as one oligarchy or individual cannot know what is best, the majority of a large group cannot decide by vote what is best either. The prime example is criminal behavior. With so many laws most citizens agree to, there will always be a small minority who disagree strongly enough to act them out. The larger minorities may not break laws, but become disenfranchised to the point that they lose respect for other individuals in the democracy. This lack of respect can lead to everything from an angry letter, petitions, protest, or rarely in democracies -civil war. Majority rule makes the minority the ruled in a lawful society. So the will of the majority may or should not make laws too harsh. The will of the majority should not take away the minority's right to debate and vote. The will of the majority should not decide to details: if a gift were decided on it would require some citizens to remain quiet or else debate for hours over how something will be given. The majority should also not elect unrepresentative Representatives, in a real democracy. Here are two Youtubes on modern manipulation of the majority's will: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24vvozhcsJY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnYZVNVqBgU

2007-06-16 18:48:27
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