Alternative Conceptions of and Corrections to the Tyranny of the Majority: A Synthesis of Perspectives on the American Dilemma

Dissertation, The University of Nebraska - Lincoln (1998)

In this study I provide a clarification and analysis of the conceptualizations of the tyranny of the majority from five different authors who have written about the American dilemma on four different points. James Madison, Alexis de Tocqueville, John C. Calhoun, Robert A. Dahl, and Lani Guinier are examined regarding their conceptualizations of the tyranny of the majority, their definition of tyranny, their perception of rights, and their corrections to the tyranny of the majority. From the synthesis of the four main points I identify and categorize the five main causes of the tyranny of the majority. The two root causes of majoritarian tyranny are the qualitative causes of individual and group interests. The remaining quantitative causes are the two-party system, winner-take-all districting, and the voting system. I conclude that the three quantitative causes of majoritarian tyranny can be nearly eliminated by the imposition of a proportional representation system. However, the qualitative causes can never be eliminated, only corrected by political means
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