The concept of democracy dictates power arrangements and balances in countries that promote the political model. This framework allows members of the population to engage in an electoral process that results in equal representation. The voted leaders will join different houses and parliaments to help formulate policies that resonate with national interests. This governance system also allows the people to maintain authority when it comes to the major issues they face. The political framework is also known to promote majority rule in many countries. Despite the strengths of democracy, it allows majority groups to elect leaders who guide them to pursue their goals, a practice that could lead to tyrannical tendencies against the minority.
Why Democracy is Tyranny of the Majority Over the Minority
Many scholars and analysts have presented numerous views that support the strengths and capabilities of democracy as a suitable governance model. For instance, Eisen et al. believe that such a system allows members of the population to pursue national interests more frequently through established policies (6). However, various challenges have emerged within the past decades that render this governance model inappropriate. In most of his works, Alexis de Tocqueville examined democracy from different perspectives in an effort to expose its prejudices, opportunities, and weaknesses (Jacobs et al. 13). From such studies, he managed to identify the system as inappropriate and capable of promoting tyranny of the majority while ignoring the plight of the minority.
The first argument in support of this claim is that democracy creates the necessary environment for promoting public opinion and domination. In most cases, some leaders could rely on the model to seize power and eventually command a huge following. This outcome is associated with a strong political force that focuses on the best experiences for the leader and his or her followers. In worst-case scenarios, the ruling majority could capitalize on their power to terrorize other groups that are deemed marginalized or unpopular. The case of Nazi Germany is plausible since Adolf Hitler rose through the leadership ladder to become the country’s chief commander (Hett 12). With many Germans behind him, he went further to institute different policies intended to support the extermination of minorities in the country, including the Jews.
The second key concern arising from this form of governance is that it promotes a sense of omnipotence. Those in power realize that democracy is supportive of their goals and expectations. In most cases, those occupying elective positions tend to come from dominant racial groups. After gaining power, the majority can formulate constitutions and policies that have the potential to increase their opportunities and control. The emerging laws and legislation tend to support their demands (Durlinger 7). The established judiciary checks the nature and applicability of that power in line with the omnipotent authority of those in leadership positions. This analysis could explain the manner in which African Americans in the United States have missed out in most of the social programs and efforts aimed at improving people’s lives. Their engagements in the Civil Rights Movement (CRM) were a clear indication that democracy was incapable of supporting the less privileged in society.
Under democracy, the level of checking and controlling powers remains in the hands of the few. While being aware of their goals, they allow loopholes to exist in different organizations and systems. This attribute forms the third argument to support the outlined thesis. When those in power are not properly checked, new opportunities emerge whereby such individuals and their respective communities crush the existing minorities (Schedler 11). Consequently, American society continues to present numerous cases whereby the views, demands, and expectations of the minority might be crushed whenever they emerge. The historical injustices against Latinos, African Americans, and LGBTs in the United States fall under this argument.
The fourth argument revolves around the notion that democracy creates specific situations whereby majority groups to trample the liberties and rights of the less privileged. In the United States, the established democratic process allows individuals to elect leaders who eventually formulate laws and support the Constitution. The use of initiatives remains a model that allows those in power to promote laws capable of disadvantaging minorities (Solomon et al. 2). A good example of trampled rights is the manner in which the LGBT community has remained disempowered and discriminated against in the context of the American society. To address this problem, experts have proposed the adoption of local ballot initiatives. Some of these efforts have led to increased levels of affirmative action and alcohol desegregation.
Finally, the public choice theory offers a powerful model for explaining why democracy promotes tyranny against minority groups. Under this framework, it becomes possible that political actions might take the course of individuals who are stronger and have the much-needed resources. This development means that the less fortunate and without adequate resources will be unable to pursue their aims to the very end. The presence of a minority group opposed to their goals could disorient the entire process (Schedler 13). Consequently, the promoted democratic procedures will become tyrannical in nature and affect the experiences of minorities.
The proponents of democracy still believe that it is the best system of governance capable of promoting equality and empowering more people to achieve their objectives. These experts have gone further to present detailed analysis and counterarguments against the notion that this system is tyranny of the majority over the minority. To begin with, Kolstad indicates that most of the democratic processes resulting in tyrannical tendencies against the underrepresented members of the society adopt the majoritarian model (17). The analyst indicates such an approach will only allow communities and populations with more people to pursue their goals and dictate the experiences of others.
Some scholars have argued that the move allows some groups to support their goals while ignoring those of minority communities. However, such an outcome should not be the promise of any form of true democracy (Kolstad 16). This researcher goes further to argue that the emergence of tyrannical tendencies would only arise when those in leadership positions fail to uphold the rule of law (Kolstad 19). When such a gap emerges, chances are high that those belonging to minority groups will not achieve their goals. The implementation of progressive policies can, therefore, help minimize the chances of coercion and discrimination against minority groups.
The outlined thesis has also received some form of objection from different analysts. For example, Eisen et al. assert that democracy does not provide any room for promoting majoritarian rule (12). According to him, democracy functions efficiently when all people collaborate to identify and pursue the required national interests (Eisen et al. 17). Both minorities and the dominant groups will engage each other to make the best decisions and present policies that are progressive in nature. This evidence reveals that all people in a given society pursuing democracy will collaborate and support the delivery of much-needed outcomes. This assertion supports the notion that democracy is a powerful model capable of engaging all citizens to promote national development.
The case of the American Constitution emerges as another example of opponents of the presented this identity to challenge it. For instance, Jacobs et al. assert that the application of the most appropriate principles allows the government to support the formation of progressive decisions (12). The government further introduces and supports proper mechanisms for ensuring that all activities do not infringe on the outlined human rights. These attributes are in accordance with the true foundations of any form of democracy. The constitution goes further to prevent desirable safeguards for ensuring that the needs of all citizens are met.
Strong Case for Challenging Democracy
Despite the counterarguments different scholars and analysts present, it remains clear that this paper’s issues against democracy are strong and valid. Over the years, American society has realized that the promotion of democracy has triggered a number of disadvantages that affect minority groups negatively (Buril et al. 8). For example, the country has continued to grapple with increasing cases of underrepresentation and discrimination against different communities, such as people of African descent. The nature of these problems is detestable since they have continued to disorient the overall experiences of more citizens.
The examined case of Adolf Hitler exposes the gaps in democracy and how it can set the stage for authoritarian regimes. This occurrence worsens the scenario for individuals belonging to minority groups. The model of governance can, at times, empower bigger races to formulate policies that could affect the overall experiences of minorities. Without proper control mechanisms, it becomes impossible for individuals belonging to such groups to pursue their aims (Pineda 34). Those who view democracy as inclusive would, therefore, need to consider the trends recorded in different nations that associate with such a governance model.
These discussions show conclusively that democracy is problematic and capable of promoting the demands of the majority at the expense of the expectations of the minority. While focusing on the implemented Constitution and the rule of law, some leaders might consider the existing loopholes to attract more followers and formulate additional guidelines that might harm minorities. Under such circumstances, Landemore is convinced that leaders should consider the best approaches to maintain the highest level of order (67). National leaders should, therefore, focus on this issue to embrace proper safeguards to prevent the manifestation of these major challenges. The strategy will also help minimize the chances of appointing a tyrant president who might eventually promote additional policies to trample the rights of the less privileged in the wider society.
The above discussion has identified democracy as a governance model capable of supporting nations and taking them closer to their economic and social development goals. However, the model presents some loopholes for leaders from minority groups to promote discriminative policies that can disorient the less fortunate or underprivileged citizens. The presented cases and historical injustices support the outlined thesis. The nature of these predicaments and the capability of democracy to become a tyranny of the majority over the minority explain why national leaders should identify and put proper safeguards in place.
Buril, Fernanda, et al. Overcoming Challenges to Democracy and Governance Programs in Post-Conflict Countries CEPPS: Lessons Learned. Arlington: International Foundation for Electoral Systems, 2021.
Durlinger, Eva. The Tyranny of the Majority: A Case Study of the McCarthy Era. New York: MaRBLe Research Papers, 2017.
Eisen, Norman, et al. The Democracy Playbook: Preventing and Reversing Democratic Backsliding. Washington: Brookings, 2019.
Hett, Benjamin C. The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic. New York: Henry Holt, 2019.
Jacobs, Garry, et al. “The Future of Democracy: Challenges & Prospects.” CADMUs, vol. 3, no. 4, 2018, pp. 7-31.
Kolstad, Hans. “Human Rights and Democracy-Obligations and Delusions.” Philosophies, vol. 7, no. 1, 2022, pp. 14-34.
Landemore, Hélène. Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the Twenty-First Century. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Pineda, Erin R. Seeing Like an Activist: Civil Disobedience and the Civil Rights Movement. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021.
Schedler, Andreas. Tyrannies of Majorities: A Conceptual Reassessment: A Democratization Theory Research Cluster Paper. Notre Dame: Kellogg Institute for International Studies, 2019.
Solomon, Danyelle, et al. Systematic Inequality and American Democracy. Washington: Center for American Progress, 2019.