Risk of tyranny
caused by ratifying this Amendment is compared with the current risk. It focuses only on the relative degrees of tyranny and avoids
digression into the voluminous and contentious philosophical issues of tyranny
in general. The practical objective is to determine if
this Amendment will make tyranny more or less likely.
The fundamental importance of liberty is evident by from the words "secure the
Blessings of Liberty" in the first paragraph of the
Constitution. Though tyranny is discussed widely in writings connected to the
Constitution—e.g., Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers—the word "tyranny" is not mentioned in the Constitution. However,
tyranny is the antithesis of liberty.
Consequently, the avoidance of tyranny is a general constitutional requirement.
Tyranny is most often defined as dictatorial power
of tyranny by a minority—e.g., when a nation comes under the rule of a dictator,
surrogate plutocracy or
and a minority forces its will upon the majority. There have been many
examples of kings, emperors, dictators, plutocracies and oligarchies throughout history.
However, it can also be created in republics or democracies when
tyranny by the majority
subordinates a minority—e.g., in recent years ethnic subjugation leading to
ethic cleansing has occurred in a number of nations such as the Bosnian-Serb
Republic 1991-1992, Republic of Rwanda 1994, and Republic of Sudan 2003-ongoing.
In these cases the tyranny appears to have been a desire of a large portion of
the people. And tyranny by the majority was the pervasive norm during
earlier times, including in the United States where we did not abolish:
slavery until 1865,
until 1920, and discrimination until 1964.
Avoidance of risk of tyranny by the majority or a minority is therefore a key constitutional issue and
resurgence of tyranny is an ever-present danger.
In addition to analysis of numerous examples of tyranny throughout history, controlled
experiments on the causes and mechanisms of tyranny have been conducted—e.g.,
at Stanford and Exeter Universities. In plain words and simplifying the issues, the
conclusions of various studies by Haslam
Fox and Kloppenberg,
Connor et al. show that tyranny generally has the following
Tyranny can be implemented and exercised by
Tyranny is more likely when
people are competing for insufficient resources.
Tyranny is more likely when the
tyrants have little empathy for the tyrannized.
Tyranny is more
those in power than by coup.
Tyrants usually need an early
stoke of good luck to establish great public credibility.
Tyrants tend to overestimate
their power to control events and the public tends to overestimate the
Tyrants often fear those they
Tyrants are afterwards often
found to be rather ordinary people.
A group is more likely to
tyrannize when it is vigorously led.
Early success of a tyranny causes
average people to join and to justify their subsequent actions as a norm of
The existence of a powerful
majority does not necessarily lead to tyranny.
Weak leadership of democracy can
lead to chaos and subsequent tyranny.
key to avoiding tyranny is to
detect it early and defeat it before it can enforce permanence.
Proposed initiatives will undoubtedly include some attempts (intended and
unintended) to advance both types of tyranny. There are three sequential
safeguards protecting against an initiative permitting some form of tyranny:
Members must vote their own independent un-coerced opinion
after open-minded deliberation. Moreover, they cannot participate in voting
by any group affiliation, vote trading, sale or favor. Hence, it is
very unlikely that a tyrannous Initiative might be selected and qualified
by the Boule—this is discussed in more
Next, Initiatives must be approved by
double majority vote of the nationwide Electorate.
It is in the run-up to the election that the fight to protect against tyranny will be aired totally in the
open and everyone can weigh in on the debate without constraint.
Finally, the U.S. Courts are the guardians of
constitutional rights and protection against
tyranny. Laws passed by Initiatives are subject to the same judicial
review as laws passed by Congress. Laws that contravene the Constitution can be
overturned by the courts. This will be and has always been the U.S. Citizens'
basic protection against tyranny, and is unaffected by this
Citizens' Initiatives Amendment.
The second and third procedures are known to most voters. The major question is will a
Boule (i.e., U.S. Citizens’ Initiatives Assembly) select and qualify proposed initiative
involving potential tyranny?
The People are fairly
represented in the Boule as compared with Congress. It is composed of a great many minorities and a few
SEX, RACE, OCCUPATION CATEGORIES
106th CONGRESS PERCENT
third of their
Arguably 1.8 times their fair share
Hispanic or Latino of any race
||Less than half of their fair share
Black or African American
||Two-thirds of their fair share
American Indian or Alaska Native
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Arguably 100 times their fair share
There are a few principal majorities in the Boule, but each majority breaks down
into many minorities of race, religion, sex, socio-economic group, age, origin,
etc. that are unlikely to hold the same views as others in the majority group:
Women by a two-percent margin.
White Americans by about a 69
Home property owners by about a
69 percent majority.
Members who are religious by
American born citizens by about a
The low proportion of lawyers in the Boule may at first sight be seen as a
legislative disadvantage. However, the Initiative process will only create about
of the number of laws passed by Congress, and Initiatives cannot be excessively long or involved
because they must be readily comprehensible to the voters. Consequently, the
Boule can rely on outside legal assistance and does not have to have a
disproportionate number of lawyers.
Finally, Candidate Initiatives have to be passed by the Boule on
separate occasions with somewhat different Membership composition, giving a
second chance to redress any initial unfair decision.
is far harder for the majority to attempt to tyrannize a minority that is vocally and
empathetically present for an extended period as equals (as in the
Boule) than those who are not
present (as in Congress). This personal presence is of great importance in
plenary session and when the
Boule breaks into small randomly selected groups of about 15 Members to
debate issues before returning to plenary session. Any attempt to advance an
initiative that tyrannizes a minority will cause resistance by that minority and
gain support from majority Members from an innate sense of fairness.
Every Member is part of several minority groups and will tend to the position
that fairness must be encouraged as a win-win strategy, or they will all loose.
By comparison, voting on important congressional legislation is often controlled
by the political parties. This can be seen clearly by the partisan voting on key
issues. Thus, it can be argued that the majority party is behaving as a
tyranny by the majority in these cases. Even when the parties permit their members to
vote freely, the representational inequalities shown in the
table above indicate a higher risk of tyranny by the majority in Congress than
It is reasonable to conclude that tyranny by the majority is less a problem
in the Boule than in Congress and that
this Amendment will result in a
reduction in the risk of tyranny by the majority.
Tyranny by a minority is made virtually
impossible in the Boule by a combination of unassailable operational
techniques. For example: the strict limit that a Member can be
chairperson of the
Boule for only one month or hold
other positions of
authority for long, prohibitions against group voting,
the limit of one-year
terms, secret voting, etc. Consequently, a brief minority
tyranny of the Boule is conceivable, but even then it should not last more than a month. The requirement that all Candidate Initiatives must be approved in
readings separated by several months (i.e., assuring a somewhat different
membership) is an additional guarantee that a minority tyranny of the Boule will not be
able to force an initiative onto the ballot.
An initiative that proposes a minority control would not be to the benefit of
the majority of the Members. Consequently, without minority tyranny of the
Boule, an Initiative proposing a
minority tyranny of the
People would not be advanced to the ballot.
Tyranny by a minority is where Congress has developed its greatest
and is an important reason why this Amendment is urgently needed as a constitutional
check-and-balance. Excessive special interest contributions to congressional
campaigns results in excessive influence on legislation. These special interests
are a minority, and their excessive influence creates clear and present risk of
tyranny by a minority. It is feared that as their influence
inexorably grows, Congress will soon
become a surrogate plutocracy of
permanently re-elected representatives controlled by special interest groups.
Return from surrogate plutocracy to a republican
form of government is unsure once the surrogate plutocracy become firmly entrenched.
It is reasonable to conclude that tyranny by a minority is less a problem
in the Boule than in Congress and that
this Amendment will result in a
reduction in the risk of tyranny by a minority.
Because the Boule will qualify Initiatives that do not increase the risk of
tyranny by minority or majority as compared to Congress, the nationwide
Electorate cannot increase that risk whether they pass or reject the Initiatives.
Thus, the risks of creating any tyrannical results by this Citizens'
Initiatives Amendment are less than the risks without this Amendment.