James Madison and his colleagues believed that by deviating from theoretical majority-rules principles, the American republic would benefit from more stability, a better protection of rights, and generally a higher quality of person in positions of authority. But ironically, it is precisely where minority rule bites deepest that this promise is revealed to be most false.

Instead of upholding law and order in the states, gerrymandering has proliferated terroristic armed gangs that try to impose their will by intimidation. The Senate filibuster, as it has evolved over time, leads to wilder gyrations of public policy than would Senate majority rule. And the Electoral College elevated the most corrupt demagogue in the history of the presidency—who was installed not by the unpropertied urban mobs feared by the founders, but by wealthier voters in more rural places. (People who earned more than $100,000 a year were likelier to vote for Trump than for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and they swung even further toward Trump in 2020.)

Policy continuity, the security of public debts, the peaceful transfer of power by legal means: These are upheld by the American majority. But a political minority is pushing the country toward the evils supposedly associated with pure democracy: extreme ideologies, the normalization of violence, and the insecurity of public debts.