March 25, 2015

What’s Gone Wrong With Democracy?

Walter Williams: “The ideal way to organize human conduct is to create a system that maximizes personal liberty for all. Liberty and democracy are not synonymous and most often are opposites. In Federalist Paper No. 10, James Madison explained, ‘Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.’ Democracy and majority rule confer an aura of legitimacy and respectability on acts that would otherwise be deemed tyrannical. … Would you want the kind of car you own to be decided through a democratic process, or would you prefer purchasing any car you please? Ask that same question about decisions such as where you shall live, what clothes you purchase, what food you eat, what entertainment you enjoy and what wines you drink. I’m sure that if anyone suggested that these choices be subject to a democratic process, we would deem it tyranny. … The Founders of our nation recognized that we need government, but because the essence of government is force, and force is evil, government should be as small as possible. The Founders intended for us to have a limited republican form of government where human rights precede government and there is rule of law. Citizens, as well as government officials, are accountable to the same laws. Government intervenes in civil society only to protect its citizens against force and fraud, but does not intervene in the cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange. By contrast, in a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. The law is whatever the government deems it to be. Rights may be granted or taken away.”

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