Haycraft: ‘Tyranny of majority’ argument may be overreaching


Rep. Bryan Shupe’s, R-Milford, recent Opinion raises concerns about the potential for a “tyranny of the majority” in Delaware, should the Democratic Party gain supermajorities in the state’s legislative chambers (“2024 elections could create political ruling class,” Oct. 27). While it’s essential to acknowledge the importance of checks and balances in our democracy, the arguments made in his piece overlook some crucial aspects of the political landscape in Delaware. Let’s examine these issues to offer a more balanced perspective.

First and foremost, it’s essential to clarify that democracy inherently involves majority rule. The electoral process is designed to determine the will of the people, and the party that gains a majority of seats in a legislative body typically has the authority to enact its agenda. This is a fundamental principle of democracy, not a “tyranny.”

Shupe expresses concern about the potential for constitutional amendments to be passed by supermajorities, thus binding future generations. However, it’s important to remember that amendments to a constitution are not something that can be done lightly. The process usually requires significant consensus and support from both major political parties. These checks are in place to prevent hasty or partisan amendments to the constitution.

Furthermore, the fear of “tyranny of the majority” is not unique to any one party or political ideology. Both major political parties have, at times, expressed these concerns when they were in the minority. It’s a recurring theme in American politics. In a democracy, shifts in power are a natural part of the process. Those who worry about majority power today may find themselves in the majority tomorrow.

Shupe also criticizes the passing of bills along party lines and claims that this will lead to “narrow-minded extremist initiatives.” While it is essential to encourage bipartisan collaboration, it is equally important to recognize that many issues, especially those related to party platforms, will naturally align along party lines. This is not necessarily a sign of “extremism” but rather a reflection of the different philosophies and priorities of the two major parties. As Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky once said, “Elections have consequences.”

In conclusion, while Mr. Shupe’s concerns about the balance of power and checks and balances in Delaware’s political system are valid to some extent, it is crucial to frame the issue within the broader context of democratic governance. The idea of “tyranny of the majority” is a complex and recurring theme in politics, and it’s vital to consider these concerns from a balanced and nonpartisan perspective. Ultimately, the health of a democracy depends on the electorate’s ability to hold its elected officials accountable, regardless of party affiliation.

Jeffrey Haycraft


Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at civiltalk@iniusa.org.

Members and subscribers make this story possible.
You can help support non-partisan, community journalism.