Defining Democracy: Tyranny of the Majority

“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what they are going to have for lunch.”   —Benjamin Franklin Aristocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy, Tyranny. From best to worst, this is the order in which regimes degrade, as described by Socrates in Plato’s Republic. You’re probably thinking: I thought democracy was good! Why did Socrates, arguably the […]

Defining Democracy: Corruption

It’s your first day of work and you slept through all your alarms. You are usually a safe driver, but you decided this time that you would disregard the speed limits to avoid making a bad impression on your first day. Next thing you know, a police vehicle has signaled for you to pull over. […]

Defining Democracy: The Senate

The Senate

The Founding Fathers conceived of the Senate as a dignified, thoughtful body, unfazed by political pressures. However, today, that description seems laughably inaccurate. To most Americans, the Senate is characterized by naked partisanship and cavalier obstructionism. How did the world’s “greatest deliberative body” become so ineffective? From the beginning, the Founders saw the Senate as […]

Defining Democracy: Independent Judiciary

Independent Judicary

Imagine that you are a (relatively) young Supreme Court Justice at 56 years old. You began your career fresh out of law school as a lawyer in Silicon Valley, becoming a rising star in the legal world, specializing in the intersection of tech law and privacy rights. Fourteen years ago, the President tapped you for […]

Defining Democracy: Marketplace of Ideas

In his classic On Liberty, John Stuart Mill warned: “The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race… If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose the clearer perception of truth, produced by its […]

Defining Democracy: Equal Protection

“This guarantee… is that all citizens shall be forever equal, subject to like penalties for like crimes … It is to secure to the citizens of each State all the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States.” John Bingham’s words, written upon the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution in […]

Defining Democracy: Bill of Rights

In America, we have to work to achieve our goals. This is the basic rule taught to us in our country – and in a good many places besides. Sometimes, just sometimes, however, because of the sacrifices of those who came before us, merely by being alive, we are entitled to certain rights. A right […]

Defining Democracy: Criminal Justice Reform

Over 2.3 million people in prison, nearly a quarter of the world’s prison population. More correctional facilities than any other country, at a federal cost of $80 billion a year. These are startling statistics for a country generally considered to be “The Land of the Free.” What is more, despite violent crime rates falling by […]

Defining Democracy: Religious Freedom

In an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God … I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or […]

Defining Democracy: Electoral College

It is November 6, 2024, and you’re anxiously awaiting the results of the most transformative election in your lifetime. Over the past six months, the country has been gripped by an intense presidential campaign as the candidates have crisscrossed America, from Ohio to California, Maine to Kentucky, New York to Arkansas. Americans have followed the […]