Should Majorities Decide Everything?

In this video, Professor Munger reminds us of the difference between democracy and majority rule. Democratic constitutions establish not only the process by which decisions will be made, but also the limits on kind of things can be voted on. This prevents the majority from deciding everything. He warns, however, that these limits on what can be decided democratically have been slowly eroded in American courts of law.

Using the example of the 2005 Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. New London, Professor Munger explores how a lack of protection for individual rights can lead to the tyranny of the majority.

8 Comments

  1. Matt Wavle

    Our elected representatives really do NOT represent the majority of the people living in their respective districts.  A significant percentage are not eligible to vote, by age or legal status.  Of those who are eligible, a large amount of those are not registered, and of those registered voters, the great majority of them do not vote on voting day.  Then split who shows up almost evenly down the middle and narrow in on the undecided voter.  Now what percentage of the population is the "undecided voter" represent?  Some studies have said, between 3 and 10%.
    This 10% has no right to decide, even by "representative" proxy, what the other 90% do, or don’t do, especially as it relates to individual liberties.
  2. txgsu43

    Democracy, from the Greek δημοκρατία, δῆμος (people) and  κράτος (rule). Majority rule is not necessarily rule by the people, but the term seems to imply that the law is subject to the interpretation by "the will of the people" (or some other vague idea). According to Plato, democracy following the rule of law killed Socrates.

    I am not entirely sure that a system that is complicit with this understanding of the world will be able to protect freedom of the minority if the interest of the majority (or of the political elite) outweighs the benefit of the minority position. Socrates was leading the efforts to create the Greek enlightenment era, but was executed in the name of the people.

  3. Anonymous

    Then why are there smoking bans and anti-smoking regulations which completely discard a minority instead of not not only representing its interest?

  4. Grady Flanagan

    HAHA. We routinely convince our students that water is bad. All we do is tell them all the bad things that water does. They unanimously vote to eliminate H2O. So, no, majorities should not decide everything. Very rarely should they decide anything.

  5. Anonymous

    If majority always wins – then even two people trying to get her property would be able to do so because two people want it demolished and only one does not. This is just absurd. 

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