Saturday, March 26, 2016

Defining mob rule

Last week, I was talking with my friend Sunil about ways to improve our democracy, a task that seems particularly important to both of us in this toxic time. 

We got on the subject of direct democracy, its attractions and its pitfalls, and why it appears to be a better solution to our public dysfunction than perhaps it is. I argued that a representative government - where elected representatives are empowered to make decisions on behalf of a larger voting public - is a preferred choice, for a host of reasons. Highest  among these is that the voters get the elected official's judgment, which is of great value especially in the toughest calls. Next, we acknowledged the difficulty of effective executive action in direct democracies. Somebody has to try to make the trains run, and generally the will of the people alone is not sufficient.

All of this got us onto the subject of "mob rule", the thing that procedure and due process are designed to protect us against. This led me to thinking, how would I define "mob rule"? Here was my go at it, and so I offer it:

When the majority opinion of those speaking fails to take into account the full array of that community's interests.