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Subject: Minority rule in the US rss

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Ben Foy
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Several months ago, I mentioned the problems of minority rule. Some conservatives seemed mystified about the comments and asked me to show them evidence to support my claims. Well, I am busy and I am only now getting around to providing that information.

The United States was the first modern democracy. Given the problems with the Greek democracy, our founding fathers were very worried about pandering and populism. They set up a system where elites would have some control over the masses. Remnants of that system still exist in our Constitution today.

The President of the United States is NOT elected by a popular vote. People in each state vote for electors which meet in an Electorial college to choose a president. In 2000, Gore lost to Bush, even though he got more popular votes. In practice, this antiquated method has usually worked. It is also extremely hard to manipulate this system.

The people in less populous states were worried that their votes wouldn't count. So in a compromise, the Senate was born. Each state gets 2 senators regardless of population. I tabulated the numbers from the last 3 elections and there were around 3M more votes cast for the Democratic candidates for Senate than the Republicans. Yet the Senate is 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats and 2 independents.

In the 2012 elections for the US House of Representatives, almost 2M more votes were cast for Democrats than Republicans. Yet the results were 231 Republicans and 201 Democrats. This is due to advances in statistics and computing technology that our forefathers could never have predicted. Though Gerrymandering has existed for hundreds of years, it is now incredibly detailed and accurate. It affects the federal House of Representatives and State level legislatures.

Here are the sources of my data:

http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2012/federalelections2012.pdf
http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2014/federalelections2014.pdf
http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2010/federalelections2010.pdf

This is a complicated subject and I am going to stop here for now.
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Ben Foy
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At the state levels everything gets more difficult because data (while available) isn't frequently aggregated in useful ways. There are also significant numbers of uncontested elections which skew the numbers.

Though much is made of Maryland's gerrymandered congressional districts, the data shows the districts for the state legislature aren't gerrymandered. Maryland also has competitive, robust elections at the state level.

Even though we know the Texas state legislature is very gerrymandered in the past (see 2003 redistricting). It's almost impossible to determine trends now. In the last election, over 2/3rds of the Texas house elections were unopposed and almost half of its Texas senate elections were unopposed. Also only around 1/5th the candidates face a primary challenger. My theory is the past gerrymandering has discouraged people from running, leading to politicians who can do almost anything and are unaccountable to voters.

Out of time. More later.
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Daniel
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Majority rule is equally terrible. I think the founders of the US feared democracy too. You can't have rule of law for very long if everything is subject to majority vote.
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Sure you can. If the law says that a majority vote on any issue becomes the law of the land then you have rule of law right up to the minute. It's not necessarily a good way to run a country, but it's not incompatible with rule of law.


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Daniel
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SPIGuy wrote:
Sure you can. If the law says that a majority vote on any issue becomes the law of the land then you have rule of law right up to the minute. It's not necessarily a good way to run a country, but it's not incompatible with rule of law.




Rule of law means some or most things are not in the purview of the State. That the State is restrained and limited. Having a "rule of law" being majority rule decides everything is pure chaos and unlimited in scope.

rule of law:
the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.
 
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Daniel
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Thomas Paine wrote, ""in America, the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other."

Pure democracy, majority rule, means the majority of the people are king. Not necessarily the Law (an absolute standard to which lawmakers, enforcers, and people alike are all subject equally).
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Shane Yeager
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I'd like to see that data, Ben! In red Carroll County, I hear grumbles all the time about gerrymandering.

Also, glad to see you weren't washed away in the recent flood.
 
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BFoy wrote:
Several months ago, I mentioned the problems of minority rule. Some conservatives seemed mystified about the comments and asked me to show them evidence to support my claims. Well, I am busy and I am only now getting around to providing that information.

The United States was the first modern democracy. Given the problems with the Greek democracy, our founding fathers were very worried about pandering and populism. They set up a system where elites would have some control over the masses. Remnants of that system still exist in our Constitution today.

The President of the United States is NOT elected by a popular vote. People in each state vote for electors which meet in an Electorial college to choose a president. In 2000, Gore lost to Bush, even though he got more popular votes. In practice, this antiquated method has usually worked. It is also extremely hard to manipulate this system.

The people in less populous states were worried that their votes wouldn't count. So in a compromise, the Senate was born. Each state gets 2 senators regardless of population. I tabulated the numbers from the last 3 elections and there were around 3M more votes cast for the Democratic candidates for Senate than the Republicans. Yet the Senate is 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats and 2 independents.

In the 2012 elections for the US House of Representatives, almost 2M more votes were cast for Democrats than Republicans. Yet the results were 231 Republicans and 201 Democrats. This is due to advances in statistics and computing technology that our forefathers could never have predicted. Though Gerrymandering has existed for hundreds of years, it is now incredibly detailed and accurate. It affects the federal House of Representatives and State level legislatures.

Here are the sources of my data:

http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2012/federalelections2012.pdf
http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2014/federalelections2014.pdf
http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2010/federalelections2010.pdf

This is a complicated subject and I am going to stop here for now.


Deeply disappointed in this, which yet another rehashing of the tired "electoral system is bad" and gerrymandering-NO!!!

What I was hoping for was a discussion on voter turnout, which I have seen here, although in the past. Voter turnout is strongest in a presidential ELECTION, not a presidential election YEAR. Primary and run-off vote totals never match the general election. And that's for the president. The farther down you go in political offices -- say Congressman to city council member -- vote totals go down. And in off-year elections, it's even worse. But worst of all are local elections held every year where 10 percent turnout is considered "heavy."

Yes, a minority does run the US, but only because they get off their ass and vote instead of sit at home and bitch while waiting for the next Bachelor/Bachelorette episode. Until you solve that problem, the rest of it is rearranging deck chairs on the Titantic.
 
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remorseless1 wrote:
BFoy wrote:
Several months ago, I mentioned the problems of minority rule. Some conservatives seemed mystified about the comments and asked me to show them evidence to support my claims. Well, I am busy and I am only now getting around to providing that information.

The United States was the first modern democracy. Given the problems with the Greek democracy, our founding fathers were very worried about pandering and populism. They set up a system where elites would have some control over the masses. Remnants of that system still exist in our Constitution today.

The President of the United States is NOT elected by a popular vote. People in each state vote for electors which meet in an Electorial college to choose a president. In 2000, Gore lost to Bush, even though he got more popular votes. In practice, this antiquated method has usually worked. It is also extremely hard to manipulate this system.

The people in less populous states were worried that their votes wouldn't count. So in a compromise, the Senate was born. Each state gets 2 senators regardless of population. I tabulated the numbers from the last 3 elections and there were around 3M more votes cast for the Democratic candidates for Senate than the Republicans. Yet the Senate is 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats and 2 independents.

In the 2012 elections for the US House of Representatives, almost 2M more votes were cast for Democrats than Republicans. Yet the results were 231 Republicans and 201 Democrats. This is due to advances in statistics and computing technology that our forefathers could never have predicted. Though Gerrymandering has existed for hundreds of years, it is now incredibly detailed and accurate. It affects the federal House of Representatives and State level legislatures.

Here are the sources of my data:

http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2012/federalelections2012.pdf
http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2014/federalelections2014.pdf
http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2010/federalelections2010.pdf

This is a complicated subject and I am going to stop here for now.


Deeply disappointed in this, which yet another rehashing of the tired "electoral system is bad" and gerrymandering-NO!!!

What I was hoping for was a discussion on voter turnout, which I have seen here, although in the past. Voter turnout is strongest in a presidential ELECTION, not a presidential election YEAR. Primary and run-off vote totals never match the general election. And that's for the president. The farther down you go in political offices -- say Congressman to city council member -- vote totals go down. And in off-year elections, it's even worse. But worst of all are local elections held every year where 10 percent turnout is considered "heavy."

Yes, a minority does run the US, but only because they get off their ass and vote instead of sit at home and bitch while waiting for the next Bachelor/Bachelorette episode. Until you solve that problem, the rest of it is rearranging deck chairs on the Titantic.


I'm not going to say much as I come from a country where you are required by law to attend a polling booth and stuff a piece of paper in a ballot box. (Personally I think this is a great system.). What I've always found strange is that Americans vote during the week. Has it ever been proposed to move voting day to a weekend? Would that help increase turn out?
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Gerrymandering does amplify the issue, but having Democrats packed into major cities also would cause the issue to an extent even with completely non-partisan (such as computer generated) redistricting.

Honestly, what I hate the most about Gerrymandering is that it doesn't make sense. Some people have a polling place much further from them just because someone wanted to include some odd sliver.

Article showing some examples:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/13/this-...

I feel that if we take the politics out of redistricting, then we wouldn't have to worry and fight about all those political details (minority balancing, etc). You just have to make sure that the program used is the same everywhere so someone can't write programs that intentionally game the system.

Redistricting currently helps the party in power to assist in making our districts as less democratic/representative as possible, which seems against the spirit of our nation. Take the politics out of it. Draw the lines to be simple and make sense. Yes, the link I made may be a bit simplistic, but even adding in accounting for a couple more variables (city bounds, etc) is still very simple.

We have the data, use it to make our nation more democratic and more representative and reduce overhead costs (and legal fights involving it)
 
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dandechino wrote:
SPIGuy wrote:
Sure you can. If the law says that a majority vote on any issue becomes the law of the land then you have rule of law right up to the minute. It's not necessarily a good way to run a country, but it's not incompatible with rule of law.




Rule of law means some or most things are not in the purview of the State. That the State is restrained and limited. Having a "rule of law" being majority rule decides everything is pure chaos and unlimited in scope.

rule of law:
the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.

That's one definition. Here's another:

"The principle that all people and institutions are subject to and accountable to law that is fairly applied and enforced; the principle of government by law."

So "Socrates must die" as the result of a majority vote is rule of law in action. It's not very good law, as the ancient Greeks eventually discovered, but it's rule of law nonetheless.

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Damian
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SPIGuy wrote:
dandechino wrote:
SPIGuy wrote:
Sure you can. If the law says that a majority vote on any issue becomes the law of the land then you have rule of law right up to the minute. It's not necessarily a good way to run a country, but it's not incompatible with rule of law.




Rule of law means some or most things are not in the purview of the State. That the State is restrained and limited. Having a "rule of law" being majority rule decides everything is pure chaos and unlimited in scope.

rule of law:
the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.

That's one definition. Here's another:

"The principle that all people and institutions are subject to and accountable to law that is fairly applied and enforced; the principle of government by law."

So "Socrates must die" as the result of a majority vote is rule of law in action. It's not very good law, as the ancient Greeks eventually discovered, but it's rule of law nonetheless.

When the law is "the majority does what it wants" it's not a law in any meaningful sense. That is literally mob rule, which no one would consider a lawful society.
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Even though I got distracted as I think political gerrymandering is dumb, the main point was that major cities will cause many Democrats to already be compacted even if done redistricting was done in a more logical fashion.

And, as others have stated, certain offices are impacted by the fact that more Republicans vote in years without Presidential elections than Democrats, on average.


I do not think this means that we should continue the practice of making our system less democratic/representative though just because there are other factors causing it.

I feel we should always strive for better even if it isn't perfect.
 
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petegs wrote:
remorseless1 wrote:
BFoy wrote:
Several months ago, I mentioned the problems of minority rule. Some conservatives seemed mystified about the comments and asked me to show them evidence to support my claims. Well, I am busy and I am only now getting around to providing that information.

The United States was the first modern democracy. Given the problems with the Greek democracy, our founding fathers were very worried about pandering and populism. They set up a system where elites would have some control over the masses. Remnants of that system still exist in our Constitution today.

The President of the United States is NOT elected by a popular vote. People in each state vote for electors which meet in an Electorial college to choose a president. In 2000, Gore lost to Bush, even though he got more popular votes. In practice, this antiquated method has usually worked. It is also extremely hard to manipulate this system.

The people in less populous states were worried that their votes wouldn't count. So in a compromise, the Senate was born. Each state gets 2 senators regardless of population. I tabulated the numbers from the last 3 elections and there were around 3M more votes cast for the Democratic candidates for Senate than the Republicans. Yet the Senate is 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats and 2 independents.

In the 2012 elections for the US House of Representatives, almost 2M more votes were cast for Democrats than Republicans. Yet the results were 231 Republicans and 201 Democrats. This is due to advances in statistics and computing technology that our forefathers could never have predicted. Though Gerrymandering has existed for hundreds of years, it is now incredibly detailed and accurate. It affects the federal House of Representatives and State level legislatures.

Here are the sources of my data:

http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2012/federalelections2012.pdf
http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2014/federalelections2014.pdf
http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2010/federalelections2010.pdf

This is a complicated subject and I am going to stop here for now.


Deeply disappointed in this, which yet another rehashing of the tired "electoral system is bad" and gerrymandering-NO!!!

What I was hoping for was a discussion on voter turnout, which I have seen here, although in the past. Voter turnout is strongest in a presidential ELECTION, not a presidential election YEAR. Primary and run-off vote totals never match the general election. And that's for the president. The farther down you go in political offices -- say Congressman to city council member -- vote totals go down. And in off-year elections, it's even worse. But worst of all are local elections held every year where 10 percent turnout is considered "heavy."

Yes, a minority does run the US, but only because they get off their ass and vote instead of sit at home and bitch while waiting for the next Bachelor/Bachelorette episode. Until you solve that problem, the rest of it is rearranging deck chairs on the Titantic.


I'm not going to say much as I come from a country where you are required by law to attend a polling booth and stuff a piece of paper in a ballot box. (Personally I think this is a great system.). What I've always found strange is that Americans vote during the week. Has it ever been proposed to move voting day to a weekend? Would that help increase turn out?

It would increase turnout of poor voters so it is blocked.
Voting day should be a holiday given proof you voted. Or it should be on a Saturday with easy absentee voting.
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Daniel
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maxo-texas wrote:

It would increase turnout of poor voters so it is blocked.
Voting day should be a holiday given proof you voted. Or it should be on a Saturday with easy absentee voting.


On the Lord's Day? That would not sit well with the Sabbatarians among us.
 
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damiangerous wrote:
SPIGuy wrote:
dandechino wrote:
SPIGuy wrote:
Sure you can. If the law says that a majority vote on any issue becomes the law of the land then you have rule of law right up to the minute. It's not necessarily a good way to run a country, but it's not incompatible with rule of law.




Rule of law means some or most things are not in the purview of the State. That the State is restrained and limited. Having a "rule of law" being majority rule decides everything is pure chaos and unlimited in scope.

rule of law:
the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.

That's one definition. Here's another:

"The principle that all people and institutions are subject to and accountable to law that is fairly applied and enforced; the principle of government by law."

So "Socrates must die" as the result of a majority vote is rule of law in action. It's not very good law, as the ancient Greeks eventually discovered, but it's rule of law nonetheless.

When the law is "the majority does what it wants" it's not a law in any meaningful sense. That is literally mob rule, which no one would consider a lawful society.

Nonsense. For most of history, law has been "what the king decrees" or "the will of the Senate" or "the will of the people." It's been unconstrained by anything like the Bill of Rights, Magna Carta, or the like. You're conflating modern notions of what is proper law and proper government with rule of law.

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Ben Foy
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syeager wrote:
I'd like to see that data, Ben! In red Carroll County, I hear grumbles all the time about gerrymandering.


Well the 8 districts for the US House are definitely gerrymandered. O'Malley and Company blamed that on gerrymandering in other states.

My logic is if the percentage voting for each party is close to the percentage of legislatures representing each party then there is likely a low amount of gerrymandering. Now a mea culpa, I can't find the location of the data that gave me the voting percentages by party for the legislature. So I have to withdraw my assertion that the Maryland legislature is not Gerrymandered. The raw data is there. If I get the chance, I will crunch it.

syeager wrote:
Also, glad to see you weren't washed away in the recent flood.


Thanks. Fortunately I don't live in old town. But the scary thing is the fatalities were people driving through town which I used to do regularly. Now I have to go around using Rt 40 or Ilchester bridge when I go gaming in Oella.
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Daniel
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In the early days Senators were not directly elected by the people either but rather by the State legislatures. It's almost like the founders were expressly against majority rule.
 
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Ben Foy
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remorseless1 wrote:
Deeply disappointed in this, which yet another rehashing of the tired "electoral system is bad" and gerrymandering-NO!!!

What I was hoping for was a discussion on voter turnout, which I have seen here, although in the past.


Well that is on my list. I have to lay out the basics first. And I have avoided waving my hand and saying 'BAD!'. I am trying to point out discrete impacts. I should dig up the thread that prompted me to discuss this topic and link it here.

I probably should also install Excel on this computer. Would make the data crunching much easier. But unfortunately, I can't post spreadsheets here.
 
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dandechino wrote:
In the early days Senators were not directly elected by the people either but rather by the State legislatures. It's almost like the founders were expressly against majority rule.


Unquestionably but some of the rules have been broken with modern computing power and state population imbalances larger than they foresaw.
 
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BFoy wrote:
remorseless1 wrote:
Deeply disappointed in this, which yet another rehashing of the tired "electoral system is bad" and gerrymandering-NO!!!

What I was hoping for was a discussion on voter turnout, which I have seen here, although in the past.


Well that is on my list. I have to lay out the basics first. And I have avoided waving my hand and saying 'BAD!'. I am trying to point out discrete impacts. I should dig up the thread that prompted me to discuss this topic and link it here.

I probably should also install Excel on this computer. Would make the data crunching much easier. But unfortunately, I can't post spreadsheets here.

You can convert them to PDF and post them to your gallery or to a file.

Then add a link in a reply here to take people directly to it.

 
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SPIGuy wrote:
damiangerous wrote:
SPIGuy wrote:
dandechino wrote:
SPIGuy wrote:
Sure you can. If the law says that a majority vote on any issue becomes the law of the land then you have rule of law right up to the minute. It's not necessarily a good way to run a country, but it's not incompatible with rule of law.




Rule of law means some or most things are not in the purview of the State. That the State is restrained and limited. Having a "rule of law" being majority rule decides everything is pure chaos and unlimited in scope.

rule of law:
the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.

That's one definition. Here's another:

"The principle that all people and institutions are subject to and accountable to law that is fairly applied and enforced; the principle of government by law."

So "Socrates must die" as the result of a majority vote is rule of law in action. It's not very good law, as the ancient Greeks eventually discovered, but it's rule of law nonetheless.

When the law is "the majority does what it wants" it's not a law in any meaningful sense. That is literally mob rule, which no one would consider a lawful society.

Nonsense. For most of history, law has been "what the king decrees" or "the will of the Senate" or "the will of the people." It's been unconstrained by anything like the Bill of Rights, Magna Carta, or the like. You're conflating modern notions of what is proper law and proper government with rule of law.

No, I'm definitely not. "Rule of law" is a specific and relatively modern concept. Through most of history we have not had rule of law. It came into popularity as an argument against the divine right of kings, which was the traditionally accepted way of things until then.

You can define "rule of law" however you personally like, but not only are you redefining it from the generally accepted definition, you're redefining it so far that there's no possible situation that cannot be rule of law. That's not very useful.

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Rule of Law : the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.


---

Nothing in the standard definition precludes a majority from passing laws following laws in place at the time.

The key aspect of the definition is the word Arbitrary.

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There's something deeply deeply wrong when parties are actively legislating policy that will prevent voters getting to the polling booth. In other words, they know that the majority of people don't want them, but rather than adjust their platform to accommodate the democratic will of the people and encourage more votes (which is what democracy is supposed to do - you represent the will of your electors), they stick rigidly to their ideology and try their darndest to prevent people who disagree from having a say.

I live in a country where:

Voting is compulsory
Elections are on a Saturday
If you are unavailable on the Saturday for whatever reason you can vote in advance in person, by post, or at any polling booth in the country, or any embassy overseas
Electoral boundaries are drawn up by an independent Federal agency with no political affiliation, according to a strict formula.
Enrolment is also handled by the agency, who tried really hard to enrol people. The day I turned up for my citizenship ceremony, they wouldn't let me in the room until I had filled in an enrolment form (since voting is compulsory...). Over 95% of the eligible population is enrolled to vote.

As a result, we routinely have turnout of over 93%, and the distribution of seats in the Senate in particular is pretty damn close to the proportion of the vote received.

Ok, sure we have our political problems, but the outcome of elections is a lot more concretely the will of the people than I've seen in most other countries.
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maxo-texas wrote:
Rule of Law : the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.


---

Nothing in the standard definition precludes a majority from passing laws following laws in place at the time.

The key aspect of the definition is the word Arbitrary.

You're just playing semantic games. Quoting a dictionary is not an adequate summation of a political philosophy. Start with wikipedia and follow some sources from there if you're still interested.
 
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