Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Divisiveness of the Minority

Many of us in the U.S.A. are relieved by the general election results, and no doubt many are distressed by the outcome.

Amidst talk of "healing" the political divisions in our society and of the need for the majority to avoid being "divisive," it would be helpful if the minority recognized its own role in creating divisions in our society.

The reaction of many Democrats to the decisions made by the majority has been the principal source of the divisiveness about which those same Democrats have complained in the past several years.

Rather than agree to go along with the decisions of the majority, they have impugned the motives of the Republicans and generally behaved as though the Republicans are at best ignorant, if not stupid.

All forms of democratic government depend upon the minority's consent to abide by--or at a minimum, the minority's acquiescence in--policy choices made by the majority.

Decisions about public policy are necessary. If they weren't, we wouldn't need any form of government.

Since decisions are necessary, and since decisions require a choice among alternatives, there is rarely a way to avoid choosing an alternative which differs from the one desired by either the majority or the minority. Few important matters can be resolved with unanimity.

Without an agreement by all parties to accept the decisions made by the majority, then no democratic form of government could function for long. The participants must agree on the essential rule: Once the debates are over and the votes are cast, everyone will accept the decision as the choice of the group.

The minority has a duty to abide by the decision made by the majority in most circumstances. After all, the need for rebellion doesn't arise from each policy decision made in a republic.

Our own government includes limits on majority rule to protect the basic rights of those who find themselves in the minority at any particular time or regarding a specific issue, but that doesn't eliminate the need for consent. Few laws are even proposed, much less enacted, which abridge the natural rights of the minority, but most laws involve choosing between two or more ways to achieve an objective. By definition, the minority's preferred alternative isn't the one selected, so their consent to abide by the decision is needed.

Rather than react angrily at the majority's decisions, then blame the majority for the divisive nature of the minority's anger, the Democrats should accept the decision until they have--through the electoral and legislative processes--persuaded the majority of our citizens to agree with them.

Rather than assume that they are the political party of those with a superior intellect, the Democrats need to consider the possibility that they are so incompetent regarding some issues as to be unable to perceive their own incompetence.

Human nature includes a tendency to divide into groups of "us" and "them," and it seems evident that too many Democrats have allowed that tendency to have too strong an influence on their thinking and behavior.

Prejudice affects how we all perceive the world. We tend to notice and remember events which are consistent with our preconceived notions, and conversely we tend not to notice or remember events which may cause us to reassess our preconceptions. By our very nature, we tend to reinforce our prejudices rather than reexamine them.

Too many Democrats have succumbed to their own human nature, and have become bigots who can no longer understand the points of view of their political opponents, much less reexamine their own dogma.

Probably, there is no easy way to change, now that they have sunk to such a low; but losing enough elections may eventually cause them to step back and take a fresh look at the world around them and attempt to open their closed minds.

We wish them a speedy recovery, since our republic would probably benefit from their having regained the ability to avoid adolescent behavior and to participate fully in arriving at the group's decisions.

We are all "us," and they need to take that idea to heart.

Update 5 Nov. 04: Thanks to Instapundit the advice "To My Fellow Democrats" at The Backseat Philosopher received quite a bit of attention regarding this same subject.

Update 6 Nov. 04: The Washington Post reported today that the Democrats are debating "whether to seek any common ground with Bush or to be implacable in opposition." Read the article and test your ability to perceive that the minority party may continue to be the principal source of divisiveness.


Blogger Al Hedstrom said...

So, you're saying the tactics of the Republicans for the past 15 or so years while they were in the minority were wrong? Are you then saying the Republicans can dish it but they can't take it?

November 08, 2004 7:44 AM  
Blogger John Clifford said...

No Al, he's saying that our government is rule by the majority with respect to the rights (not opinions) of the minority.

If the majority wants to paint the Capital building blue, then it will be painted blue, minority be damned.

If the majority wants to eliminate the right to be free from unreasonable searches, then the courts are supposed to step in and straighten things out (that's why we want non-partisan judges who don't evolve the Constitution but use it as a standard to weigh laws against).

As Americans, we have a duty to abide by the rule of law, and to recognize the legitimacy of our leaders, be it Bill Clinton or George W. Bush. Our form of government can't work if the losers refuse to abide by the results of free and fair elections.

The Democrats need to learn how to be members of the LOYAL opposition, and things like calling for more military deaths, or wishing we fail in Iraq, or hoping that someone pulls a Lee Harvey Oswald because they are opposed to George W or his policies ain't cutting it.

January 01, 2005 7:08 PM  

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