Should Majority Rule?

I've been incubating an idea.

It's not an executable idea. It's not something that once I decide whether it's good or bad, I can implement it. It's one of those ideas about the way a person views the world. It's a decision I'll make, and it affects some pretty big things about how I think, how I work, how I vote, and how I grow.

When I incubate ideas, sometimes subconsciously over a period of years, I give them names. Key words. This one I think of as faith and leadership. When I conceive of something like this, have the idea for the very first time, I kind of tuck it away in the back of my mind and set it there to simmer. To incubate. Think of it like a Google news alert. Google allows a user to receive e-mail alerts based on a keyword. So If you put in "Barack Obama," not only will your inbox explode, Google will e-mail you every time their search engine returns news results that mention Barack Obama. In the same fashion, every time I come across something that adds to, contradicts, or reaffirms this idea conception I have, the idea itself becomes deeper, more complete and I understand more about it.

This idea, faith and leadership, started probably six or seven years ago. I was a part of an internet community that featured a mailing list, a website, chats, and other interactive activities. The girls who organized it all tried to keep their growing community in order, but some of the members seemed upset. Why was this not done faster? Why were they not allowed to do this? Why was this person not accepted into the group? Why was this thing not done fairly? One of the girls who organized it all got fed up and sent an e-mail out to everyone that basically said, "Listen, it takes a lot of planning, organization, and time to run this, and we do it for fun, and so you can have fun. We made the choices we made for a reason, and although we realize that you are all valued members, we are the ones who can see the whole picture. So sometimes you're just going to have to trust that we're making the right decision."

Hm, I thought to myself. Sometimes you just have to have faith in leaders. And the idea was conceived. It popped up again from time to time in fantasy books I'd read, where kings and queens made difficult, sometimes unpopular decisions. The leaders were valiant and wise, and the people, who would then experience better conditions, would soon see that their leader had made the correct choice.

In other things, I'd realize that blind faith, following leaders who are not in fact making wise choices, is not desirable at all. Consoling oneself with my idea, with the rationale "well, he must know more than I do," to justify political apathy isn't acceptable. It isn't very American. In America, the people insist on being heard. All affairs are not up to the leader. It is not considered wise to simply have faith.

To bounce back like a bouncy ball, I recently saw this article: Bush says he didn't compromise soul to be popular. He says, "What do you expect? We've got a major economic problem and I'm the president during the major economic problem. I mean, do people approve of the economy? No. I don't approve of the economy. ... I've been a wartime president. I've dealt with two economic recessions now. I've had, hell, a lot of serious challenges. What matters to me is I didn't compromise my soul to be a popular guy." Which to me, is a valid sentiment. I mean, in many of my classrooms I've seen a banner: "What is right is not always popular, what is popular is not always right." And certainly, just because many of my contemporaries are running into a busy street doesn't mean that I'm not assessing the situation for myself.

But we've been taught that majority rules. Our country is built on this principle. Every person has a voice, every person has a vote. Beyond voting, we can contact members of congress. We have freedom of press, we can gather supporters. We can impeach leaders we don't approve of. We have a lot of say.

But for the same reason that we need to trust our leaders to make decisions, the idea that they have a wider view of a decisions effects, are we qualified to have this vote? The majority rules: what if the majority rules badly? What if the majority is not qualified to rule? How on earth would we know? Think of the world as a cosmic game of chess. If we can only see one or two of the chess pieces near us, but there is one person with a vantage point who can see the entire board, even if there are more people with limited vision, wouldn't you trust the person who can see?

Perhaps not. Perhaps the person who can see could lose on purpose. Perhaps the person who can see won't relay truthful information. Perhaps the person who can see is a great climber, but not a great chess player.

I think the answer to this is the answer to most of the conflicting ideas I have: There must be a middle ground. In the chessboard analogy, perhaps the game could be played if the many on the board who have limited views all shared their views and made a sort of conglomerate image of the game. Perhaps the answer is not blind faith in a farther-seeing leader. Perhaps the answer is a responsible majority, who work together.

No comments:

Post a Comment