Monday, October 03, 2005

Wherefrom the liberal agenda

Nicholas Kristof begins his New York Times op-ed today by stating:
The main mode for seeking a more liberal agenda should be the democratic process, not the undemocratic courts.
Unfortunately, the rest of the article is on Times Select and I haven't found the content worthy enough to pay for. But that shall not hold me back from taking issue with that one flawed statement.

I do not believe a majority vote can ever be relied upon to create fundamental human rights. If the constitution of nations had been drawn up solely by majority vote, I'm willing to bet that slavery would be omnipresent. As recently as fifty years ago, a majority of Americans in many states thought that desegregation was a terrible idea as well. And, of course, children in the USA would be required to learn creationism in science classes, since 55% of Americans want it that way.

The whole point of liberalism, or at least my idea of it, is to endow each individual with the right to pursue their own lives in any manner of their choice, so long as it does not interfere unduly with anyone else's fundamental rights. The democratic process equips the majority with the ability to mandate away the rights of the minority, thus conflicting with the goals of a liberal society. The only way to pursue the liberal agenda is to enshrine these fundamental human rights in the constitution and control the courts interpreting this constitution, until that far-away day when they can rely on an enlightened public. This is also the reason that constitutional amendments are designed to require a significant majority to be approved -- it should not be easy for a partisan majority to rob the minority of these fundamental rights.


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