There is a widespread belief that the political system must be responsive to the demands of the electorate. But it is not clear at all. Consider the following statement The Wall Street JournalReport on the adoption of the Congress gun control bill (“House Expected to Approve Landmark Song Act,” June 24, 2022):
The House was expected to pass a comprehensive firearms law within decades on Friday, hours after the bipartisan package was approved by the Senate, clearing the way for President Biden’s signature and giving supporters hope the country’s political system could respond to gun violence.
Suppose most of the voters are in favor of slavery or at least they are willing to accept it in exchange for something else as part of political bargaining. Should the political system be responsive to this? Many people, including libertarians, classical liberals and your humble bloggers, will not answer. When other people say that the political system should be responsive, that is what it should be responsive to They I want
Liberals and classical liberals believe that the political system should No. Must be responsive to majority demands on certain issues. A constitution, written or unwritten, should aim to protect individual rights in an automatically regulated social order, no matter what the political majority wants. Some are “constitutional” principles Out of politics.
But what should and should not be done outside of politics? To answer this question, it is useful to be aware of James Buchanan’s “constitutional political economy.” In this context, what should happen outside of politics is the general rule that can possibly meet the consent of each and every individual – the “constitutional” rule that governs and restricts everyday politics. Under these constraints, politics is a bargaining chip for non-dissenting collective choices of citizens that are deemed necessary for efficient social cooperation. (In this way, you may want to check out my Econlib review of James Buchanan and Gordon Tulak’s classics Calculus of consent; And my review of Buchanan Why am I, too, not a conservative Inside Regulation.)
The impact of this abstract theory is not always obvious. They need reflection and analysis. To take a current example, the Second Amendment to the American Constitution guarantees the country’s residents the “right to bear and carry arms,” which cannot be revoked or abbreviated by common politics. The Supreme Court has only reaffirmed the supremacy of the second argument over politics (although it still allows political regulations that reasonably contradict policy. Imagine if the First Amendment was subject to constant political interference. Citizens may want to change the constitution unanimously, but it is not crystal clear). That is how we will ensure that the reform process does not become a victim of political instability.
It is very clear that there can be no consensus on repealing the Second Amendment or weakening it in the evening, in which case constitutional rule will stand and stay out of politics. In reality, of course, if authoritarians or fanatics become a huge and stable majority and cannot persuade minorities, the Constitution will probably be bypassed. Yet, the longer it lasts and the more gridlock it creates, the more it will be unable to revoke the independence of the temporary majority minority.
It should be out of politics but there is another answer to the question of how to preserve the rules devalued by politics. It is a complete escape from politics. Anthony de Jase thus took a position Against politicsIn his book with this title (Against politics, Routledge, 1998). In this regard, one believes or expects that a system of individual liberty will work better without an irresistible state (see my review of Michael Hummer’s defense of anarchy Regulation) If anarchy can work, any person must be free to carry and carry a weapon, or not, as he (or she) wishes.
One thing is quite certain: a system where politics, defined as collective choices without consensus, cannot be trusted to protect individual rights. The political system should not be responsive to every wish. And it Can’t Responsible for every wish as long as individuals have different preferences and values.