Do you believe in majority rule?

My first experience with majority rule was as a member of my high school student council. Some question would be presented to us, we would discuss it, and if more than one solution was presented we voted. The solution with the most votes won and was enacted.

I’ve been on non-profit boards and company boards that operated the same way. Congress, in many instances, makes decisions based on the majority.

So does the Supreme Court, a fact sometimes regretted by the side that loses a case there.

Actually some of my friends who are Democrats have supported the idea of “packing” the Supreme Court. At the same time they have touted the idea of getting rid of the Electoral College so “the candidate with the most votes wins.”

Basically they love majority rule, as long as they are in the majority. Perhaps that is true for most of us.

A brief history

Majority rule was practiced as long ago as the ancient Greek democracy. A democracy is a system of government by the whole population of a nation or territory. Sometimes only certain members of the population participate, and that was true in ancient Greece.

Only adult male citizens could vote. In America today we have a similar structure. Wisely we have dropped “male” as a qualifier. Less wisely, perhaps, we have reduced “the age of majority” from 21 to 18.

Notice that phrase “age of majority.” In America when one turns 18 he or she is no longer a “minor” but is now a “major.” In fact in every state in America, there are far more people over the age of 18 than under.

The state with the “smallest majority” is Nevada, where 77% of the population is 18 or older.

In medieval times there was a movement away from majority rule toward the principle of unanimity. That a simple majority should make the decision was accepted slowly. Unanimity was the ideal, though much harder to achieve.

It was John Locke, an English philosopher, who in 1690 wrote about and promoted the practical benefits of majority rule. From there it has largely taken hold in governments and institutions around the world, but especially in America.

The rise of the minority

I say “largely” because there are many exceptions. In the world of golf clubs there are a few “benevolent dictators.” The members have no authority other than suggestion and persuasion. One such dictator, now deceased, was Jack Vickers. He said that rule by a board of members was “a guarantee of mediocrity.”

In some countries there have been dictatorships. Russia, essentially, is a dictatorship today. There have been monarchies, there have been theocracies, and there have been democracies.

All of those have faced the challenge of the will of minorities, and that is a challenge indeed.

I have witnessed the injustice suffered by some minorities in America from time to time. I’ve seen it in person and I’ve seen much of it in history.

Dr. Martin Luther King was a great champion for the racial minority he was born into, and he made a difference. In fact one member of a different minority assassinated him in order to still his voice. But he only magnified it.

This seems to be the age of the minority in America. Many minority groups have found sympathetic listeners among the majority. Some have also discovered that they can make at least part of the majority feel guilty, ashamed, or afraid. All of that gives them a kind of power, and some have, of course, abused it.

Can the majority be wrong? Yes, and so can the minority.

History is replete with examples of the majority being wrong.

But it is also wrong to believe that every member of every majority group — or minority group — is in agreement on all things. If one Black person is a racist, that does not mean all Black people are racists. If one White man is a neo-Nazi, it does not mean all White men are neo-Nazis.

For more than 100 years slavery was common (though still wrong) in the Colonies and then in America. The picture you may get when you think of that is a White slave owner and African-American slaves. But there were many Whites who opposed slavery, and not a few Blacks who owned slaves of their own race. American Indians also owned Black slaves. None of that makes it right, but it makes it multi-racial.

Likewise, abolition (the removal of slavery) was a multi-racial effort, led in no small part by a White man named Abraham Lincoln.

Earlier I said that the killer of Martin Luther King, was part of “a different minority.” I am not referring to his race, but to his belief that killing King was a good thing.

Everyone in that minority was wrong. And so was everyone in the minority who thought killing Jesus was a good thing.

Not majority rule, not minority rule. Morality rule.

I am constantly amazed at how many people choose a position based solely on who else holds it. Whether it is the majority or the minority, that is a very poor way to make a decision. Stick with the majority, and at least you won’t be wrong alone. Go with the minority and you can become a martyr for a cause you don’t really care about.

There is another choice: morality.

Where is the voice of morality? Where, on the campuses of our most celebrated schools, is the rally that condemns Hamas for the sheer evil of their attack and at the same time calls Israel to respond with moral and not just military force?

In Washington, where are the politicians who stand up for morality against both the majority and minorities?

If you want your life, your family, your business, your government to be better, ignore the numbers. Make good moral choices at home and at work. And please make morality a major factor in who you vote for.

When morality rules, good happens.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Mark Starley

    I feel morally obligated to respond to this week’s post.
    Keep doing good.

    1. Lewis Greer

      Ha! Morality does rule!!! 🙂

      Thanks very much, Mark.

  2. Randy Wolff

    So good Lewis. Be careful who we follow whether in the majority or minority, because we might wind up where our leader is going. Morality is a good one to follow but even the best have feet of clay and will stumble. It is so great that we follow Jesus no matter how many that is. I just desire to be a part of the remnant.

  3. Frank McArdle

    Another better than good post, Lewis. I hope I am in the majority with that opinion. The topic reminds me of a hat my employees gave me, in jest I hope, for one of my birthdays. It had two brims, one facing left, and one facing right. Emblazoned across the front was, “I AM THEIR LEADER… WHICH WAY DID THEY GO? We should pray that our leaders choose and use the moral compass to set their course, not just what the majority thinks. Glad Columbus set his sails that way. Thanks for all the good you do friend.

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