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"Tyranny of the majority" ?

 
 
Reply Sun 20 Feb, 2011 11:52 pm
Does the US senate has a partial solution to the "tyranny of the majority"?...If so hoe??
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 04:53 am
@preetamb,
Can you be more specific.

0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 06:40 am
Yes. The Senate was created to assuage the fears of the "small" states (in those days, lead by New York and New Jersey, and meaning small in terms of population--Virginia was the most populous state in 1787). They were opposed to a legislature based on population, because they then felt that they would be overwhelmed by states with large populations, lead by Virginia and Massachusetts. The compromise of the Senate was that all matters significant to national sovereignty--the ratification of treaties and the appointment of executive officers--would be dealt with by the states on the basis of an equality of representation, each state appointing two senators (senators were appointed by the states at that time, rather than elected). This was a crucial compromise to keep the constitutional convention alive--many states had given their delegates instructions not to discuss legislative representation by proportion based on population, and some delegates had even been instructed to withdraw from the convention if it were mooted. This was due to a fear of majoritarian tyranny. The delegates were skilled in public discourse, negotiation and the procedure of legislative bodies, so they immediately resolved themselves into a committee of the whole, which allowed them to "informally" discuss such matters without violating their instructions, and to give delegates time to contact their legislatures in order to have their instructions changed or voided. The Senate comprise resolve the first major impasse which theatened the constitutional convention.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 06:42 am
@preetamb,
Yes, the US Senate has the obvious solution.

It is called "Tyranny of the Minority". It has been used all too often in the Senate over the past couple of years where the minority party has blocked hundreds of important bills and judicial nominations from the Minimum wage to defense spending.

Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 06:57 am
@maxdancona,
That is a completely meaningless response.

******************************************

Preetamb, it occurs to me that unless you are familiar with the text of the constitution, my response may not register with you. Only the Senate can ratify treaties, and the President can only appoint officers of the executive branch with the "advice and consent" of the Senate. Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed on the same basis. This means that all the states, each having two senators, have an equal say in those matters, without regard to the population of each state. Therefore, a majority cannot necessarily impose its will on the nation in such matters.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 07:04 am
@Setanta,
Ive always called it one of our better ideas, up there with Bill of Rights.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 07:05 am
@farmerman,
I agree (of course) and i also believe in a very unpopular institution--the electoral college--which has the same effect.
RABEL222
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 10:58 am
@farmerman,
A really good idea if it wasent populated by crooked politicians.
0 Replies
 
H2O MAN
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 11:16 am
@preetamb,


Are you talking about liberal progressive democrat mob rule?
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 12:59 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
I agree (of course) and i also believe in a very unpopular institution--the electoral college--which has the same effect.

I agree as well. Aren't these things part-and-parcel of why the US is considered a Republic instead of a Democracy?
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 01:58 pm
@Setanta,
Great addition to my background knowledge. Thank you.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2011 04:34 am
@rosborne979,
In a sense, you're comparing apples to oranges, Roswell. A republic means a government of laws, it doesn't stipulate how the government is chosen or organized. So, for example, the Roman Republic was an oligrachy--rule by an elite class. But it was a republic because that oligachy was constrained by the law. We have (ostensibly) a democratic republic. We are governed by laws, and the government is chosen by the people. I'd only modify that to say that we are a republic with a restricted democracy--if for no other reason, than the existence of the electoral college.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2011 04:44 am
@roger,
You're welcome, Roger. The only delegation which arrived with a plan was the Virginia delegation, and the Virginia plan called for a legislature chosen on the basis of the proportion of population, which, if mooted, would have torpedoes the convention on day one.

The Virginia plan would also have had a plural executive, a committee rather than one chief magistrate (the President). The point of that was to keep the executive weak. It was a bad idea. In the Continental Congress, the executive was a President chosen by the members from among their own ranks (each state could send a many members as they chose, but had but a single vote). Essentially, that executive was only an executive in the way that a middle level manager is an executive--simply enforcing (or trying to enforce) policies determined by others.

Seeing Washington sitting in the President's chair day after day during the convention strongly influenced the powers accorded to the President in the constitution. The executive imagined in the constitution had great powers, because the image before the public man was of Washington, a true paragon of integrity. In respect of personal probity and selfless devotion to the ideals of the republic, the whole shootin' match went down hill beginning with president number two, and has not improved since. Washington did not, however, get everything he wanted--he wanted a provision that bills the President vetoed would require a three fourths vote for Congress to override--but by and large, he was happy with the result.

I can't recommend a single book which describes the convention and its deliberations well, unfortunately. It takes a lot of reading to get a good sense of what actually went on. That's because most writers descriptions of the significance of persons and events is strongly influenced by the political opinions they hold when they begin the endeavor.
0 Replies
 
 

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