The fiction of majority vote
by Fred Schnaubelt
Who Speaks For You? – Who Speaks For The American People?
The “American people” want compromise says the New York Times. The “American people” want a balanced budget say the Republicans. The “American people” want free medical care, free college tuitions, free contraceptives, free food stamps, free mass transit, free immigration, and free or partly free housing say the Democrats (and Democrats want Republicans to go along to get along). Everyone with an agenda claims to speak for the “American people” — or is it the “American peepul?’
The founding fathers opposed compromise, which is why they set up a system of “Checks and Balances.” Today we call it “Gridlock.” It’s almost working as planned. The intention was to “pit ambition against ambition… [in order] to control the abuses of government,” so wrote James Madison. Too many compromises already have gotten us a $15.8 trillion national debt, compromises have gotten us a $16 billion California deficit, and compromise has gotten San Diego a pension mess, all things motivating the TEA Party to resist further compromises. TEA Party adherents are the first to recognize fewer and fewer taxpayers are paying for more and more compromises.
A Taste of the Forbidden Fruit of Elections
Who really speaks for the American people and what about politicians claiming a majority mandate to speak for the people by pointing out their own elections?
Barack Obama was elected President with 32.6% of the votes from the voting-age population and 41% from those registered to vote. Does he honestly speak for 2/3 of the adult population that did not vote for him? No President has ever received a majority vote! Hence, the forbidden fiction that majority vote rules.
Governor Brown received 5,428,149 votes from 23,551,669 eligible California voters, a so-called mandate to impose his will based on the 23% approval of Californians aged 18 or older. You probably have never seen these figures reported in the media which obviously would question the legitimacy of politicians imposing their costly “visions” upon the rest of us. Those visions which justify taking money from people who earn it to give to people who don’t earn it.
Locally in the June 5th Primary Election (not yet certified):
Carl DeMaio received 75,502 votes from 632,937 registered voters or 12%.
Bob Filner received 73,197 votes from 632,937 registered voters or 11.5%.
Greg Cox received 41,839 votes from 234,151 registered voters or 18%.
Dianne Jacob received 87,254 votes from 323,760 registered voters or 27%.
Steve Danon received 33,089 votes from 304,716 registered voters or 11%.
San Diego City Council Primary…
Ray Ellis, District 1, received 14,132 votes from 105,978 registered voters or 13%.
Todd Gloria, District 3, received 24,469 votes from 75,214 registered voters or 32%.
Mark Kersey, District 5, received 24,866 votes from 84,894 registered voters or 29%.
Scott Sherman, District 7, received 15,571 votes from 73,527 registered voters or 21%.
Marti Emerald, District 9, received 10,103 votes from 53,647 registered voters or 19%.
Prior General Election (2010):
Ron Roberts, District 4, received 78,541 votes from 318,488 registered voters or 25%.
Bill Horn, District 5, received 86,102 votes from 284,154 registered voters or 30%. San Diego City Council…
Tony Young, District 4, received 9,628 votes from 62,947 registered voters or 15%.
Lorie Zapf, District 6, received 22,869 votes from 80,606 registered voters or 28%.
David Alvarez, District 8, received 13,014 votes from 55,855 registered voters or 23%.
Jerry Sanders, Mayor (2008) — 116,527 votes from 647,372 registered voters or 18%.
(Current 2012 registration figures above may be greater than in the 2010 election and of course if calculated as a percentage of eligible voters over 18), the win percentages would be about 25% less.)
What is the legitimate purpose of elections? Elections are used for selecting the people who will administer governmental affairs and are one of several possible methods for filling such positions. Other methods used elsewhere have been by drawing straws, by aristocracy, heritage, or ruling caste.
Our Constitution is intended to restrain acts of a majority and insure that numerical minorities will not be oppressed. Majority vote is the antithesis of individual freedom. The Bill of Rights was devised to protect you and me against, who do you imagine? A fictitious majority acting through the government! Thomas Jefferson wrote, “An elective despotism is not the government we fought for.”
A related but different question is what should be the legitimate functions of government? We must not conflate majority vote with the indispensable functions of government — or illegitimate functions. The role of a legitimate government is to act as an umpire that enforces rules and creates a fair field without favor. Majority vote today however is devolving into anything but a fair field. Those who claim to act in the name of a majority make the rules — even though they never represent an honest majority. As a result our government is becoming an instrument of plunder, a means for selling economic privileges to a few while diffusing the cost among the many.
In America the basic assumption has been that our government is limited in what it can and cannot do. Government, for instance, cannot by majority vote pick our spouse, our religion, or what media we can see, hear or read. It cannot tell us what jobs we can hold or where to live as governments have in other countries. We don’t rely on majority vote to determine 2+2 = 4, or 3 feet = a yard, or that the Earth revolves around the Sun.
When people ask don’t you believe in majority vote? The correct response is, “For what?” Granting privileges?
You can argue the points but the main thing to remember is politicians don’t and never have spoken for the majority of the people. They merely represent the best organized minority groups in exchange for votes and campaign contributions.
Schnaubelt is a former member of the San Diego City Council