The illusion of majority rule

By , James Chappell is a public school teacher in a large urban school district.

The United States presidential campaign has not responded to an important part of the American people's frustration with their political system. Majority rule is losing out to minority thinking, and this frequently erodes an effective handling of America's needs. Minority influence is not a new problem in national politics, but it has gripped the nation too long and left the people politically lethargic. National polls and voting patterns indicate that the people believe the federal government is either incapable of dealing with majority wishes and serious problems, or it simply does not care.

Almost everyone now thinks of himself as part of some minority, struggling to effect a change in the government that will benefit his narrow view or goal. During the last 20 years, persons and groups representing a minority view or issue have been able to master the national political process. This has resulted in the development of many laws, benefits, and regulations for their special causes. Imaginative solutions to our national problems become restricted because of the influence of minority thinking.

The tremendous growth of varied lobby groups and government consultants is ample evidence that minority government is the dominant movement in national politics. A minority viewpoint is clearly expressed in our tax laws, court-ordered busing, and auto emissions and occupational safety rulings, to list only a few examples. Our schools, television, advertising, and magazines directly support the psychology of being part of some minority. We have all been so victimized by minority viewpoints that urgent national issues such as energy, inflation, conservation, health care, crime, and old age are not adequately met by our federal government.

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The Congress is composed of persons who feel a strong pull to represent the views of their districts or states. I am not suggesting that this congressional bias is always bad for America, but it does reduce the opportunity for decisions that benefit and reflect the majority.

The White House is the focus of the majority, yet candidates for president are forced by our electoral system to "minority campaign." Campaigning from one minority to another contributes to a diminishing majority perspective.

The growing federal encroachment on people's lives and businesses frequently reflects a minority viewpoint and constantly stirs resentment among the people. The people react by voting against the incumbent president, hoping the new president will provide the leadership necessary to right many years of wrongs.

The American people need the national government to recognize that many of their problems can be solved locally without federal coercion and interference. Most people have come to realize that, as the federal government attempts to solve a single problem, it increasingly creates new problems.

"I'm from the federal government and I'm here to help you" is usually good for a quick laugh. But sober reflection leaves the people wondering how much more help they can stand.

The presidential election next Tuesday will probably give one candidate an electoral majority. But the winner may only receive a minority of the votes cast. Among those qualified to vote, less than 100 percent will have registered , and of those eligible fewer will actually vote. This is partly the fault of Congress. We need a national holiday on election day because many potential voters are either at work or commuting.

The people are anxious, almost desperate, for their president to provide leadership and guidance toward rule by the majority. Whoever enters the White House next January must be bold and full of courage. He must "become the people" and guide our nation away from government by the minority and toward a new federalism that permits less governmental interference and more trust in the people's own ability to solve problems.

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