Saturday, January 26, 2019

Minority Rights are the key to democracy

This is a cliche for many people, but too many of us need reminding.  Democracy cannot grow without minority rights.

Madeleine Albright. from "Fascism"  states "in a true democracy, leaders respect the will of the majority, but also the rights of the minority.  One without the other is not enough."  More about her book,

With every election, we expect everyone to accept the result.  That is how our decisions are made.  However over history we have countless examples of how the majority can be wrong and even sometimes come to regret their decision.  Donald Trump got in without a majority with a platform that seems against minorities as well a big part of what he calls his base.  Too often politicians will set majorities against a minority to win an election.

My concern in this blog post is with minorities, the ones whose vote did not translate directly to power.  The majority/minority split can be in almost every category. (race, sex, age, political preferences).  Ideally every individual should fit into society and contribute to it.

However many minorities are not respected and are even commonly discriminated against.  But examining the concept of a minority any individual can be considered a minority.  There are considered a number of races and even more ethnicities and religious affiliations.  then there are education and employment status.  Sexual preferences are achieving greater public awareness.  We can go further--short or tall (or in between). age, there are more females in a society than males are a minority, although females may feel they are because they have in effect less political power. 

The point is any one person can be discriminated against, but society is only optimized when every individual is allowed to make a contribution.

Minorities have fought back violently.  Other forms of resistance are not so obvious, but nonetheless impact all of society.

John F. Kennedy quote--"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Nelson Mandela was very realistic after his years in prison.  He knew the majority blacks needed the educated whites and found ways to alleviate criticism.  Gandhi understood that Hindus were stronger with the support of the Muslims and worked to ally them (and others) to fight the British.  India today has more Muslims than any other nation, although conflicts are still there.

The American constitution and others have tried to give rights to the minorities.  The separation of church and government is crucial.  Although in Lebanon they have achieved some stability by holding some positions of power to specific minorities.  The trend today seems to be to expand minority rights such as for sexual preferences.  The majority normally resists losing their privileged status, but with more contact increase their acceptance.

Proportional voting gives a strong voice to minorities.   One complaint against it has been that too often power is split,  That is true, but when it happens it is more difficult for one party to discriminate against the minority

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