Passions of the Majority
Seven people are sitting around a dinner table at a restaurant.
The discussion turns to ordering. Six people are in complete agreement that they should all order the fish. One poor patron is allergic to fish and says that she will opt out and order a steak. The six look at her in disgust and explain that she MUST order the fish. She points out that since she is paying the bill separately she has the economic power to order, or not order, anything that she wants.
They decide to hold a vote to decide if she should be forced to order the fish.
As you can imagine, the vote is six to one that she must comply with their demands.
She points out that while the vote may very well have been compliant with the rules of parliament, her ability to purchase has not been mitigated. She still has the dollars in her purse, and she can spend them on literally whatever she wants at the restaurant.
That is the power of minority rights.
In ancient Greece, Plato articulated the concept of democracy… and he was not particularly thrilled about the idea. In a democracy, the majority dictates the direction of the polity… and if the majority wants to steal and kill a minority to “get their stuff,” that, theoretically, would be completely acceptable.
Our Founders also understood the downsides of democracy, and instituted a glorious solution that transcended the basic principles of a republican form of government. They fundamentally recognized minority rights. This is enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
The majority has no inherent power.
They are not a mob that can use violence to ensure societal compliance. They can only seek to control the levers of governmental power to advance their social and political agendas. Once the power of the government has been invoked, it is constricted by the Constitutional limitations set forth in the Bill of Rights.
The majority can set the course of government policy… but they can never use the government to harass or decimate a minority. This minority is expansive. It clearly includes racial minorities, but it also includes minorities of thought. Disagree with me, and I cannot use the power of the State to limit your ability to speak, or to associate, or even to arrest you.
The Bill of Rights serves as our bulwark against the passions of the mob… the majority. It has kept our Republic intact for over 200 years. It also faces one of its biggest assaults right now.
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This last week, President Trump made two extraordinarily disturbing statements. First, he suggested that due process should take place after the powers of the State had seized weapons from someone suspected of being mentally incompetent. This actually implicates multiple Amendments. First, and obviously, the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, and second, the Fifth Amendment, “… [no person should]…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
President Trump’s argument is that sometimes, well… that darn “due process” just takes too long.
Establishing probable cause, and getting a judge to grant a warrant can happen literally in seconds. Now if probable cause does not really exist, it is the check and balance of the judiciary to ensure that the executive is not becoming tyrannical.
That is the whole friggin point!
The fact that those who have been calling Trump a despot since the election are now completely comfortable allowing him to essentially ignore the Constitution and expand executive power at the direct expense of the people is both disingenuous and disgusting.
Then he dropped this little gem:
When addressing Senator Pat Toomey he said, “You are afraid of the NRA.”
Afraid of the NRA?
What the hell does that mean???
The NRA is the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
Yes… you read that right… CIVIL RIGHTS organization.
Just as the ACLU is supposed to check the powers of government when it comes to abuses of the Constitution, so does the NRA. They conveniently choose to ignore that pesky 2nd Amendment when it comes to litigation. The NRA fights on behalf of the people in ensuring that the government does not abrogate the rights of the people.
Who, that has sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, could possibly be “afraid” of an organization that has, as its charter, the mission to ensure that elected representatives do not violate their oath?
The passions of the mob are aligned against gun owners, conflating legal and illegal gun possession into a single group. The mob does not have the fortitude, nor the extended passion, to organize and begin non-governmental confiscation of firearms. They do seem to have the ear of the President and Congress though. The bulwarks against their passions are the rights granted by the Creator and codified in the Bill of Rights.
When one is abolished, all are in jeopardy.
Then tyranny wins.