Walter Williams on Democracy

Walter Williams has an interesting article up looking at the nature of democracy, what relevance it has to the founding fathers and why it isn’t really the idea people seem to think it is. It is worth the read and he makes some excellent points.

The Economist magazine recently published “What’s gone wrong with Democracy … and what can be done to revive it?” The suggestion is that democracy is some kind of ideal for organizing human conduct. That’s a popular misconception.

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.

Let’s look at majority rule, as a decision-making tool, and ask ourselves how many of our life choices we would like settled by majority rule. 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.

Read the rest

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