The Shrinking Majority in a Democracy

If you are in a world of Kings and Monarchies, you might take it for granted that Royalty is in place for (perhaps) Divine reasons. God made it so, and so it must be. And if Royalty misbehaves, that’s God’s will and we should be clever in not being noticed by them, lest we incur their displeasure.

If you live in a colony founded by Royal Decree, and you are far away from the displeasure of the dreaded Royals, you might start to Think Differently. It seems arbitrary and capricious that people, of highly variable talents and character but who are of a particular bloodline of someone who won a war a long time ago, get to be rulers Just Because.

You might, if you were a somewhat Deep Thinker, wonder about what gives a Government the Right to Govern. And you might conclude that it is the Consent of the Governed.

Okay. And that gets us to the Enlightenment and the Age of Revolutions.

Now, say you live in a World of Democracies. You are a member of an Ethnic or Cultural Group and it seems to you as if the Interests of your Ethnic or Cultural Group keep being ignored or denigrated by the Democratically elected Government. If you are in the Minority, you try to get everyone in your Group to vote. If that is not sufficient, you try to persuade members of other Ethno-Cultural Groups to vote with you. Perhaps you need to increase suffrage, perhaps you need to persuade disenchanted members of your Group to have Hope and to behave Optimistically. Perhaps you need to tell your Story in such a way that other Groups see themselves in your Story.

So far so good.

Let’s say you are in the Majority while this is happening. Normally, things Go your Way because you’re in the Majority. You have the Power to dictate How Things Go. Any Minorities that want to Live a Good Life can vote with you. You get to decide which Minorities are OK and which are Not-OK.

But a new consensus is forming and your numbers are shrinking and suddenly Democracy seems to bring other people’s and groups’ interests to the fore.

What is the Former Majority to think about Democracy now? Suddenly it doesn’t look so obviously Good.

In many countries, Syria and Russia, for instance, minorities govern. There are sham Elections, because Elections Are Good, but those who support the interest of the Minorities Always Win. Right-thinking people scorn those systems. The Sacred Vote! One Man One Vote!

As someone clever said about the Arab World: One Man, One Vote, this one time.

In America, far-Right White Supremacists have always been deeply suspicious of our Sacred Constitution. After all, it never mentions White people. It does have the 3/5ths business, so, OK, but it does not guarantee that White Men shall always be In Charge.

Looked at that way, from the Point of View of disenchanted White Men, Democracy and universal suffrage could be seen as an insult, just a sneaky way to take their (God-Given) privilege away and give it to the Less-Deserving.

Yes, it all sounds depressingly familiar.

If you are a member of an Ethno-Cultural Group that enjoyed Dominance in a Democracy, but your numbers are dwindling, it is conceivable that Democracy might seem to have Worn out its Welcome. Yes, it was a wonderful, and Philosophically Satisfying, way to have power in the land, but now there must be Other Ways. So maybe deny others the vote, make it harder to vote, have Judges who declare that maybe “voting” is not something absolutely everyone needs to do. Get Intellectuals to Opine on the topic.

After all, nobody is being oppressed by a King, that’s a long-ago battle. Now we are just grasping at power.

And that’s how it ends.

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