A majority taken collectively may be regarded as a being whose opinions and, most frequently, whose interests are opposed to those of another being, which is styled a minority. If it is admitted that a man possessing absolute power may misuse that power by wronging his adversaries, why should a majority not be liable to the same reproach? Men are not apt to change their characters by agglomeration; nor does their patience in the presence of obstacles increase with the consciousness of their strength. For these reasons we should not willingly invest any group of our fellows with that unlimited authority which we should refuse to any individual.
One social power must always predominate over others, but liberty is endangered when this power is checked by no obstacles which may retard its course and force it to moderate its own vehemence. Unlimited power is in itself a bad and dangerous thing, and no power on earth is so worthy of honor for itself or of reverential obedience to the rights which it represents that we should admit its uncontrolled and all-predominant authority. When the right and means of absolute command are conferred on a people or a king, on an aristocracy or a democracy, a monarchy or a republic, there has been implanted the germ of tyranny.
The main evil of the present democratic institutions of the United States does not arise, as is often asserted in Europe, from their weakness, but from their overpowering strength; the excessive liberty which reigns in that country is not so alarming as is the very inadequate security which exists against tyranny.
When an individual or a party is wronged in the United States, to whom can he apply for redress? If to the public opinion, public opinion constitutes the majority; if to the legislature, it represents the majority and implicitly obeys its injunctions; if to the executive power, it is appointed by the majority and remains a passive tool in its hands; the public troops consist of the majority under arms; the jury is the majority invested with the right of hearing judicial cases, and in certain states even the judges are elected by the majority. However iniquitous or absurd the evil complained about, no sure barrier is established to defend against it.
Question: Which of the following would be the most appropriate title for the passage?
- The Tyranny of the Majority
- Democracy: Triumph of the People
- Abuses of Power
- The Failure of Democracy in the United States
- Minority Rights
Question: Which of the following best paraphrases the author’s statement in the third sentence of paragraph 1 ?
- Individuals do not change their behavior when they act in concert with others who are likeminded, and, knowing they are acting as part of the group, they are not likely to show greater restraint when opposed than they would if they were acting individually.
- Groups are not different from one another, they all show strong impatience when thwarted.
- The character of men is formed by the accumulation of their traits, and patience is not a common trait among men of strength.
- The leopard does not change its spots no matter how long it lives, and it is, and remains, patient in the presence of obstacles.
- Men change their behavior when they act in groups; they are more patient when they are in the company of their fellows than they are when they are alone.
Question: With which of the following statements would the author of the passage be most likely to agree?
- Democracy is no greater defense against tyranny than is monarchy or aristocracy.
- Minority rule would probably be more responsive to the needs of all people than majority rule.
- No government should be trusted since all governments are equally tyrannical.
- Since one social power must always predominate over others, it is futile to provide checks and balances in government.
- To render itself immune to the germ of tyranny, the United States should strengthen its political institutions.
Question: Which of the following, assuming that each is true, would most weaken the point that the author is making in the last two paragraphs of the passage?
- The framers of the U.S. Constitution deliberately separated the three branches of the government to prevent tyranny.
- There is not a single majority in the United States; there are many majorities, each composed of a different collection of individuals and each acting as a restraint on the others.
- The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifically guarantees the right of each citizen to petition the government for redress of grievances.
- Even though the United States is not a direct democracy, all U.S. citizens have an equal opportunity to participate in political life and to hold public office.
- The framers of the U.S. Constitution had two primary concerns: to prevent the government from exercising tyranny over the people and to prevent the majority from exercising tyranny over the minority.
Question: The author’s treatment of the topic of the passage can best be described as
Question: In the passage, the author is primarily concerned with
- challenging a commonly held belief
- contrasting two opposing views
- advocating a course of action
- reconciling an apparent conflict
- proposing a solution to an unrecognized problem
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