David Harsanyi lays out the case against majoritarian rule in the matter of gun control – an issue that just about perfectly illustrates why the Founding Fathers took a dim view of “democracy,” which they correctly interpreted as mob rule:
The Founding Fathers worried that “some common impulse of passion” might lead many to subvert the rights of the few. It’s a rational fear, one that is played out endlessly. Obama, who understands how to utilize public passion better than most, flew some of the Newtown families to Washington for a rally, imploring Americans to put “politics” aside and stop engaging in “political stunts.”
This is, by any measure, a preposterous assertion coming from a politician piggybacking tragic events for political gain. It would have been one thing, I suppose, if the gun control legislation written in the aftershock of a gruesome massacre had anything to do with the topic at hand. But what senators came up with would have done nothing to stop the shooter in Newtown — or the one in Aurora, Colo. Passions can be aggravated by events, but in this case, events have little to do with the policy at hand.
When people want to rush and “get something done” in a hurry, they should be working at the local level, not running national lobbying campaigns and trying to deform Constitutional rights from Washington. Fighting fifty state battles is obviously much less efficient, and glamorous, for those who wish to impose their vision on the entire nation, but it has the virtue of giving citizens a closer view of those stampeding politicians. Also, those who act in haste will become learning experiences for those who act more deliberately. This would, in turn, give us a more contemplative legislature in Washington.
Not that the gun-control zealots have any intention of learning any lessons from the practical applications of their theories – as you can learn by watching them frantically attempt to change the subject when they’re asked how things are going in the gun-free utopia of Chicago, or what effect the last “assault weapons” ban had on crime.
“If Washington internalizes the 60-vote threshold as a matter of routine, voters should be grateful,” David concludes. “Considering Washington’s propensity to politicize everything and its increasingly centralized power (what your health care looks like is now up for national referendums, for instance), this might be the only way left to diffuse democracy.”
One might go so far as to call it the only way to defuse democracy. The American system was never about forcing dissenters to do what “everyone else” supposedly wants, much less what some politically aggressive coalition with a big media megaphone demands.
Politicians are very good at portraying themselves as the point men and women for what “everyone wants,” especially when the media colludes with them to push a fashionable agenda. In truth, there is virtually nothing that everyone wants, beyond what was wisely enumerated in the Bill of Rights. I’ll see Barack Obama’s assertions that “everyone” agrees with him about some gun-control piffle or other, and raise him with the assertion that everyone truly does want the right to defend themselves.
That really is just about universal, and as with the rest of the Bill of Rights, it’s an imperative that can be satisfied without infringing upon the rights of anyone else. Even the most self-righteous gun control zealot would snatch up a nearby pistol to protect themselves, or their loved ones, in a tight spot. It is always worth remembering that virtually every high-profile gun control champion employs professional armed security for their protection, and they grow very upset at the suggestion they should live up to their philosophy by disarming their guards.