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Tyranny of the Majority and Unaccountable Minorities

Our voting patterns are in most cases very close to fifty-fifty.  The percentage of voter turnout compared to the voting age population in presidential elections during the period from 1968 to 2008 has ranged from a high of 60.8 percent in 1968 to a low of 49.1 percent in 1996.  Apart from these two numbers and discounting the effect of the electoral college, the percentage has ranged between 50.1 and 56.8.  These elections have been won or lost by the votes of not more than 5 percent of the voters and sometimes by substantially less.  What does this mean for those who do not vote or are too young to vote?


The party that wins claims sanction to impose its views on the whole despite being in office because of only a small margin of approximately half of the voting age population. The losing party makes countervailing claims, but, since it is not accountable, makes them more appealing to obtain popular support in the next election. This dynamic polarizes the political parties and their leaders because potential power is valued more than the best interests of our country.  Statesmen trying to do the right thing do not have a chance.  They become stereotyped and predictable and are shunted to the side, leaving power brokers with their capacity for compromise to have a larger share of power.  This problem can be remedied by requiring a super-majority vote which means that disagreeing factions must come together to get anything done.


In many cases, minorities end up ruling the country.  They have great passion, attend meetings, write letters to the editor, and have ways of taking advantage of the apathy of the majority.  It is time for all of us to be alert and take an interest in the consequences of poorly managed government and balance the tyranny of the majority with unaccountability of the minority.