Essay:Republic and democracy
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Some people make a big deal out of this being a republic with lots of checks and balances rather than a democracy based strictly on majority rule. I guess the idea is that if you have a lot of supermajority requirements and veto-wielding politicians that could thwart action from being taken, it will prevent tyranny. However, the ultimate supermajority requirement, unanimity, is the voting threshold used in jury trials, which gives every juror an absolute veto on conviction. Nonetheless, the jury system hasn't been a particularly effective bulwark against widespread oppression. Many of the freedom fighters who took their cases to a jury trial have had most unpleasant experiences.
Anyone who has been to school knows that it is not just those in formal positions of authority, but also your peers who will consent to your persecution. That lesson is taught not only during civics class but in all the other class periods of the day, and during recess, at the bus stop, etc. There are usually only a few particularly grievous bullies, but that's all it takes, when everyone else is willing to be a passive bystander. The same dynamic plays out in the political system.
What to do in such situations? Most people's answer is, go with the crowd so as to avoid being the next target of persecution. If everyone else is taunting the eccentric kid, throw taunts along with them. Or if you can't stomach that, then be silent and act like you don't see it.
There was a campaign that told high-schoolers not to kill themselves because "it gets better." Why does it get better? Because when you get out of high school, you can finally secede from your persecutors. You don't have to keep company with them; you can choose from a multitude of colleges or workplaces, and find a culture where you fit in better, and people who are friendlier toward you. You're not forced to be around those who don't appreciate you.