It is true that there are certain individual rights that are considered inalienable and which can bring the State to account.
However, it is vital to recognize that those rights themselves, their status and application are born out of the foundation and fundamental processes of majority rule. “A set of independent necessary and sufficient conditions for simple majority decisions”, pp. 1 Mark Fey, “May’s Theorem with an Infinite Population”, Social Choice and Welfare, pages 275–278. On Liberty, The Library of Liberal Arts edition, p.7 Democracy is by far the most challenging form of government – both for politicians and for the people. While the minority is not being indirectly represented by the politician like the majority, the minority still retains their basic rights and expects the majority to show consideration for those rights as well. The Library of Congress, page 113 Majority rule is a means for organizing government and deciding public issues; it is not another road to oppression.
A hot topic right now, the issue of same-sex marriages, is a perfect illustration of this model of government.
The majority of the nation feels that same-sex marriages should not be permitted in the United States.
In sum therefore, there are individual rights capable of ‘trumping’ state powers, but those rights are themselves born of the democratic process and therefore ultimately subordinate to that overarching mechanism, concept and power. The term democracy comes from the Greek language and means “rule by the (simple) people”.3 Democracy is a political form of government in which governing power is derived from the people, either by direct referendum (direct democracy) or by means of elected representatives of the people (representative democracy).4 We vote for our representatives and the one with the most votes goes on to act for the majority; the majority being the collective people who voted for the representative. The minority also knows that while they may not be in the majority at this time they will not always be in the minority on every issue. Just as no self-appointed group has the right to oppress others, so no majority, even in a democracy, should take away the basic rights and freedoms of a minority group or individual.
That representative speaks on behalf of the majority who voted him in and votes in such a way as to embody the will of that majority. The minority accepts that in order for our government to work competently the will of the people, in the case the majority, must be fulfilled.5 The framers of the Constitution insisted that an indirect democracy approach to government would be the best methodology in creating our new nation. The notion of majority rule with respect for minority rights guarantees that no political power will ever be more dominant than the other.6 It also makes certain that while the majority may have the obvious power the will of the minority will also be considered.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Law Teacher.
A basic principle of democracy is majority rule and the protection of individual and minority rights, which, although seemingly contradictory, are the very foundation of democratic government.
However, in respect to the minority opinion (that same-sex marriages should be legal), many of the citizens in the majority group feel that same-sex couples should be allowed civil unions.
As a form of government democracy requires adherence to the basic principle of majority rule, given that this is the only way to determine the will of the people as an entity.