Lacey Smith

Democracy at its worst

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Every time I hear someone call America a democracy, I cringe. America is not a democracy and people’s assertion that it is one shows me how uneducated our citizenry are.

In fact, our Founding Fathers were very apprehensive about democracy. A quote frequently attributed to Thomas Jefferson asserts that “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”

Whether Jefferson said it is questionable but if it’s true is undeniable. Democracy has no respect for the minority.

But democracy is more insidious than that. It does not simply take away the rights of any minority. In fact any small minority when gathered together can take advantage of democracy to hold the majority hostage.

This happened last night, and was democracy at its worst.

This photo was taken by KSL of the protesters yesterday.

A small group of people – a few hundred – gathered yesterday in support of a man who committed a crime. He was practicing civil disobedience and was arrested and charged for it.

Yesterday, he was sentenced to two years in prison. His supporters didn’t think that was fair and so they gathered on the sidewalk near the courthouse.

When they were allowed to continue protesting, these people forced a confrontation with officers: they spilled off the sidewalk and onto one of the busiest, and narrowest, intersections in downtown Salt Lake right during rush hour.

They stopped traffic and, worse, the Trax trains from coming and going through the hour. For nearly an hour the police allowed them to hold up hundreds of others before giving them the option to move or be arrested. 23 people chose to go to jail.

Now I was more than a little annoyed that my 5-7 minute commute (which is already longer than it should be thanks to UDOT’s inability to program lights), took at least twice that long. More than that, I was annoyed at these people’s utter disregard for anyone else.

These people had no respect and no care for anyone else. Their agenda was more important than anyone else.

Later last night, I heard one of the members of the group explain that he hoped the people they had delayed appreciated what his group was trying to accomplish.

He said they were trying to restore our democracy and that his group was trying to do something for all of us.

There are legitimate reasons to protest. I’m currently organizing a rally. It’s one of our rights – to peaceable assembly – and it’s one of the things I love about America.

But we lose that right when we cross the line into harming other people.

And this post is not about peaceable assembly. It’s about democracy.

What that group did yesterday was democracy. The riots in Egypt was democracy. The guillotining in France during the French Revolution was democrcay.

There are so many bad aspects to it and I am glad we live in a republic.

It’s an important distinction we should know  by heart and be able to explain and defend. Whenever someone talks about democracy it should make us really uncomforable.

Democracy is mob rule. Last night I experienced it at its worst.

Thank goodness for the republic!


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