Saturday, September 11, 2010

p. 230 A New Birth of Freedom, Jaffa

The South argued against majority rule, or "tyranny of the majority." Lincoln opposed this as well. What's the proper northern answer?

My answer: Today, people boil down the Civil War to state rights v. the Federal government. Modern progressives will put themselves on what they think is the side of Lincoln as they assert that the ever growing power of the Federal Govt is somehow in the tradition. Libertarians often do the same and fall into the trap of denigrating Lincoln. Looked at this way, "the tyranny of the majority" as seen by modern progressives and Libertarians is a disagreement over states v. the Federal Govt. Progressives see the Federal Govt as good, Libertarians see it as bad.

But Lincoln, and I hope most modern conservatives, see both modern progressives and libertarians as wrong in their interpretation. Lincoln did not see "the tyranny of the majority" as having anything to do with the preference of the Federal govt over the states or vice versa. Lincoln understood "tyranny of the majority" as it related to "all men created equal" by God as it is described in the Declaration. That is to say, Lincoln firmly believed in majority rule as long as it preserves the compact of the Declaration that all men are created equal.

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