In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature.
Democracy, which began by liberating man politically, has developed a dangerous tendency to enslave him through the tyranny of majorities and the deadly power of their opinion.
To include freedom in the very definition of democracy is to define a process not by its actual characteristics as a process but by its hoped for results. This is not only intellectually invalid, it is, in practical terms, blinding oneself in advance to some of the unwanted consequences of the process.
Tyranny seldom announces itself … In fact, a tyranny may exist without an individual tyrant. A whole government, even a democratically elected one, may be tyrannical.
Democracy arose from men thinking that if they are equal in any respect they are equal in all respects.
And what sort of philosophical doctrine is this — that numbers confer unlimited rights, that they take from some persons all rights over themselves, and vest these rights in others … How, then, can the rights of three men exceed the rights of two men? In what possible way can the rights of three men absorb the rights of two men, and make them as if they had never existed … It is not possible to suppose, without absurdity, that a man should have no rights over his own body and mind, and yet have a 1/10,000,000th share in unlimited rights over all other bodies and minds?
If men use their liberty in such a way as to surrender their liberty, are they thereafter any the less slaves? If people by a plebiscite elect a man despot over them, do they remain free because the despotism was of their own making?
The disposition of all power is to abuses, nor does it at all mend the matter that its possessors are a majority. Unrestrained political authority, though it be confided to masses, cannot be trusted without positive limitations, men in bodies being but an aggregation of the passions, weaknesses, and interests of men as individuals.
When a legislature decides to steal some of our rights and plans to use police force to accomplish it, what’s the real difference between them and the thief? Darn little! They hide behind the excuse that they’re legislating democratically. The fact they do it by a majority vote has no moral significance whatsoever. Numerical might does not constitute right, no more than a lynch mob can justify its act because a majority participated.
The merit of our Constitution was, not that it promotes democracy, but checks it.