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The Super Majority Amendment

Democracy has a flaw.

The minority in a democracy is an outcast – legally rejected and coerced by those around him. Sooner or later everyone is in the minority on a major decision, and thus a wedge is repeatedly driven into society. Such a burden continuously threatens to rip our nation apart. There must surely be a better way.

Certainly 51% can organize and use their own resources to build a monument, to attack another country, or to give each other “free” healthcare. Why must they force the other 49% to help them?

Is it right for 51% to make the other 49% pay higher taxes, to pay most of the taxes, to use only government schools, to drive only hybrid cars, or to use only government healthcare? Is it OK for the 51% to impose its will on only 10%? What about 1%? Is it OK for the majority to impose its will on you? Was it OK in Nazi Germany or the Confederacy?

Even if you believe that you must obey the majority, does the US government truly represent the majority?

Let’s fix democracy’s flaw. Let’s fix the tyranny of the majority.

We need a way to limit the tyranny of the majority (whether a majority of citizens or a majority of Representatives), and one way to do that would be to require a 60% majority to pass a law instead of only 50%. We should not go higher than 60% at first only because it takes 67% of Congress to propose Constitutional amendments. Also, 60% will be more acceptable to most people than a higher percentage and will still be high enough to prove the benefits of requiring a super majority.

If only a super majority can pass a law, then only the best ideas will become laws.

A super majority should be tailored to a government’s proximity to the people, not just because a local government is more in touch with the needs of the people, but more importantly, because it is easier for an individual to move from one local jurisdiction to another; whereas, one must leave an entire nation to if one dislikes the national government.

The further removed the government is from the people, then the higher the majority required to pass a law should be. Therefore, let’s require a 60% majority at the federal level, a 55% majority at the state level, and a 5% + 1 majority at the local level.

Such a change would require another Freedom Amendment, which I first conceived in the mid 1990’s, and which I call the Super Majority Amendment.

The Super Majority Amendment

Any vote by the United States Senate, the House of Representatives, or any other federal government body shall require a majority greater than or equal to 60% of the entire membership of that body to be considered passed and binding by that body.

Any vote by a state legislature or any other state government body shall require a majority greater than or equal to 55% for that vote to be considered passed and binding.

Any vote by any local government body shall require a majority greater than 50% for that vote to be considered passed and binding.

10% of any government body described in this article may demand a repeat of any previous vote that was passed by that body more than one year prior. The repeat vote shall be performed within 10 days. If the repeat vote fails to pass with the majority required by this article, then the previous vote shall have been repealed by the repeat vote.

The federal, state, and local governments shall have the authority to increase the minimum percentage required to pass a law to a percentage greater than that required by this amendment. Such an increase must be passed by a majority equal to the new percentage.

Once people see how well this works, then they will be less resistant to higher percentages.

This solution could have worked in 1776 as easily as now. So you may be asking, “Why didn’t the drafters of the Constitution adopt it?” The reason is that the Constitution granted such limited power to the federal government that requiring a super majority was irrelevant. Congress simply didn’t have the power to make a bunch of bad laws. Of course, the Congress no longer feels constrained by the Constitution, so a super majority amendment is long overdue.

Why Super Majorities Work

When you think about it, the Constitution is nothing more than federal laws that can only be passed by a super majority. (Amending the Constitution requires both a 67% majority in Congress and a simple majority in 75% of state legislatures.) Therefore, when federal laws require 60%, they will be closer to the quality of the Constitution, closer to the infrequency of Constitutional amendments, and closer to the brevity of constitutional amendments. While it is true that I have some criticisms of the Constitution, I think we can all agree that it is infinitely better than the usual laws generated by Congress.

For the same reasons, we will have fewer and better state laws.

With fewer state and federal laws, there will be more diversity between the laws in different cities and counties. If you don’t like your current local laws, you can simply move to a town where the people think more like yourself. If you don’t like your current state laws, you can simply move to different state where the people think more like yourself. If you think this is too much trouble, consider that many people already relocate to find better jobs or better schools for their children. Wouldn’t you at least like to have the choice?

Imagine what would happen if supporters of “global governance” or “transnationalism” – like Obama – succeed in establishing any kind of world government, which, of course, would only grow in size and power – like all governments. Certainly you would want that world government to require a super majority, or would you rather be subject to the will of 51% of the rest or the world? Do you think the rest of the world will let you keep your wealth, your land, your car, or your firearms?

Federalist Fallacies

The tyranny of the minority would be the inevitable result of super majorities according to the political class, who claim that a minority could then thwart the will of the majority. On the contrary, if 59% of Americans wanted to do something, they could still do it. They simply couldn’t use the government to force the other 41% to also do it, and if the majority didn’t not want to do something, the other 41% couldn’t make them do it. Super Majorities are thus a clear and direct increase in freedom.

On the other hand, when a simple 50% majority rules, this is much more a tyranny of the minority because not only is a smaller percentage using the government to control the behavior of everyone, but it is far easier for the political elite to influence a vote. Simple majoritarianism is a double tyranny. It is a tyranny of the majority and the minority.

Even though I just proved that super majorities are not a tyranny of the minority, I have found that many people somehow miss this point, so I will say it again. The majority can still do anything they want. They simply cannot use the government to force the minority to also do it, and if the majority does not want to do something, the minority cannot make them do it.

The End of Social Programs will surely be the red herring promoted by the left, but the reality is that the Super Majority amendment allows greater experimentation with social programs.

The left will complain that whichever locality is wise enough to enact the most generous welfare and unemployment will be immediately inundated with the nation’s entire population of people who are poor because they were oppressed elsewhere. They will assert that the only way to prevent this is to force the rest of the country, to enact the same welfare plan. Right? But that’s exactly what we have now – isn’t it? And the left is firmly in control – aren’t they? And it isn’t working – is it?

The fact is that local governments could still have generous social programs if that’s what the people wanted. Here’s how:

Make handouts a percentage of local wealth. More wealth means more handouts.

Support only those who have held a job locally.

Give more to those who have been residents longer.

It is possible that the results of competition among localities may demonstrate that a locality having more diversity, more social programs, and more handicapped access also increases its overall standard of living. If the left opposes this amendment, then they must be afraid to find out the truth.

Greed is often cited as the cause of an inevitable downfall of any democracy. Here is a popular quote that allegedly demonstrates this.

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the Public Treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the Public Treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy always followed by dictatorship.”

— Alexander Fraser Tyler, “The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic”

Mr. Tyler used the Athenians as an example, but only a small minority voted in Athens. Of course, when the few can force the many to finance their goals, they will. However, if everyone votes, then the average person would pay as much as he receives.

A majority may try to heavily tax a minority, but these schemes are impractical because the enforcement of an unreasonable law costs more than can be extracted from an oppressed minority. This is especially true if the minority is really small as it would be if we used super majorities. If the majority persists, the result would be a revolt followed by a more egalitarian democracy – not a dictatorship. Slavery in America was an extreme example. It was impractical and was destined to be followed by a more egalitarian democracy whether the Civil War had taken place or not. In fact, I suspect that the Civil War, and then big government, actually delayed full equality for African Americans.

Majoritarianism is not only the best form of democracy, but the only form that can endure according to the following dubious quote of Thomas Jefferson. (Majoritarianism is where 50% plus one vote is binding on 50% minus one vote.)

“The first principle of republicanism is that the lex majoris partis is the fundamental law of every society of individuals of equal rights; to consider the will of the society enounced by the majority of a single vote as sacred as if unanimous is the first of all lessons in importance, yet the last which is thoroughly learnt. This law once disregarded, no other remains but that of force, which ends necessarily in military despotism.”

–Thomas Jefferson to F. von Humboldt, 1817.

How could any rational person state that anything but a 50% majority is rule by force. Government IS force. All government is force. Government is nothing but force. Thomas Jefferson knew that, George Washington knew that, and I suspect you also know it.

A New Country

We can ask ourselves a few simple questions to get a good idea of what America would be like with the Super Majority Amendment. Every question is really just this, “Would you rather live in a place that has more government or less government?” Another way of putting it is, “Would you rather live in a place that has less freedom or more freedom?”

Well …

  • more government or less government?
  • less freedom or more freedom?
  • more taxes or less taxes?
  • government schools or educational freedom?
  • more welfare or less taxes?
  • more quotas or less quotas?
  • outlawed abortions or legal abortions?
  • outlawed flirting or legal flirting?
  • government regulated parenting or parental freedom?
  • only government and criminals have guns or citizens own guns too?

An individual would usually choose more freedom and less government because that is always in the best interests of any individual, and thus even local government, which would be the bulk of government, would be minimal.

This may seem true, but how can that be? Wouldn’t we already have more freedom and less government if that’s what people really wanted? Well, I hope by now you realize that the US government does not represent the people.

Now wait a minute! Some people, believe very strongly that some actions, such as abortion, are just wrong no matter how many people disagree.

Suppose that you were pro-life and that abortion were legal, which it currently is:

  • You could still choose not to have an abortion.
  • Another person’s abortion will not hurt you.
  • You certainly need no law to protect yourself from being aborted.
  • You need no law to protect anyone you know from being aborted.
  • If you changed your mind about abortion, then you could still have one.
  • An abortion could potentially make your quality of life much better than it would have been.

Therefore, if you were pro-life, the only reason you would outlaw abortion is to stop other people from having a better life so that you can live in denial about the true impact of abortion.

What about guns? Some people, believe very strongly that an armed citizenry is just wrong no matter how many people disagree.

Suppose that you were a liberal (or some other kind of statist) and that gun ownership were legal, which it kind of is:

  • You could still choose not to own a gun.
  • An honest person’s gun will not hurt you. (Criminals will have guns anyway.)
  • You certainly need no law to protect you from the mere ownership of guns.
  • If you changed your mind about guns, then you could still have one.
  • A gun can make a person’s quality of life much better. (Keeps criminals and government at bay.)

Therefore, if you were a liberal, the only reason you would outlaw guns is to stop other people from having a better life so that you can live in denial.

Surely taxes are different! Some people believe very strongly that taxes are necessary no matter how many people disagree.

Suppose that you were a liberal (or some other kind of statist) and that taxes were voluntary, which they most definitely are not (in spite of Harry Reid’s insistence that taxes are voluntary):

  • You could still give money to the government.
  • Those who pay no taxes are not hurting you. They simply may not be helping you.
  • You need no law to protect you from the non action of other people.
  • If you changed your mind about taxes, then you could stop paying them.
  • Zero taxes can make a person’s quality of life much better.

Therefore, the only reason you would enforce taxation is to stop other people from having a better life so that you can live in denial. Consider that no liberals give more money to the IRS than they are forced to give – even though they say they want to the government to have more money.

The ONLY reasons anyone would ever choose more government and less freedom is because they want to control the private lives of others or take their money. I’m not sure which is worse.

The part I really like about the Super Majority Amendment is that individuals would receive more of the benefits from their actions and suffer more of the consequences of their actions.

Jim
 

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Anonymous - September 29, 2010

Just look at the last 20+ months of pure obstructionism in the Senate against the attempts to breathe life into the middle class after being pummeled by the rich and tell me that a supermajority in all cases is a good idea.

You might convince me in matter of taxes and budget this helps drive consensus, but generally a supermajority justs helps the minority block progress; no matter how ridiculous the argument.

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Jim - September 30, 2010

"a supermajority justs helps the minority"
I find your lack of respect for minorities disturbing.

"a supermajority justs helps the minority block progress"
No. A supermajority helps the minority block oppression.

"obstructionism"?
You're blaming the Republicans … ?
Really … ?
The dems had a filibuster proof majority for over a year; whereas, the Republicans NEVER had that.

"attempts to breathe life into the middle class"
The Dems could directly transfer wealth to the middle class at any time, but they don't even try. Instead, they pass hugely expensive legislation opposed by the middle class such as bailouts, stimulus, Obamacare, and unemployment extensions. Until very recently, the Dems planned to raise taxes on the middle class by letting tax cuts expire. By Obama's own admission they planned to raise energy prices on the middle class through cap & trade. They already raised taxes on tobacco and gasoline. They appear determined to convert tens of millions of illegal immigrants into citizens. To say that the Dems are waging war against the middle class … would be less of an exaggeration.

I am curious where you get your news from.

Can you make a compelling argument against my original statements:

Certainly 51% can organize and use their own resources to build a monument, to attack another country, or to give each other “free” healthcare. Why must they force the other 49% to help them?

Is it right for 51% to make the other 49% pay higher taxes, to pay most of the taxes, to use only government schools, to drive only hybrid cars, or to use only government healthcare? Is it OK for the 51% to impose its will on only 10%? What about 1%? Is it OK for the majority to impose its will on you? Was it OK in Nazi Germany or the Confederacy?

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