The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

One of the most resonate criticisms of democracy is the so-called “tyranny of the majority” meme and its numerous variants.  Simply put, it asserts that the general population is either too ignorant, too stupid, too impulsive, or too immoral to be entrusted with the governance of a nation.  As a vigorous proponent of democracy, I readily admit that good democratic governance is dependent upon an educated, enlightened, and engaged populace.  However, this overblown fear of the “unwashed masses” is an authoritarian idea, concocted and propagated by aristocratic sentiments.

Although the American and French revolutions dealt heavy political blows to the world’s aristocracy in the late 18th century, the many nations which were subsequently built on its profound principles still incorporated this wariness of empowered populism into their governmental structures.  The U.S. Constitution, for example, mandated representative democracy, the separation of power, and an independent judiciary.  The…

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