Mob Rule

Some worry that direct democracy will lead to mob rule. If the mob were big and organized, perhaps that would be a problem. But are we afraid of standing up for our rights because of this mob warning? Woodrow Wilson fought back against this idea that a mob will take over America, some democracy-loving, voting mob…

“I am not afraid of the American people getting up and doing something. I am only afraid they will not; and when I hear a popular vote spoke of as mob government, I feel like telling the man who dares so to speak that he has no right to call himself an American. You cannot make a reckless, passionate force out of a body of sober people earning their living in a free country. Just picture to yourselves the voting population of this great land, from the sea to the far borders in the mountains, going calmly, man by man, to the polls, expressing its judgment about public affairs: is that your image of ‘a mob?’

“What is a mob? A mob is a body of men in hot contact with one another, moved by ungovernable passion to do a hasty thing that they will regret the next day. Do you see anything resembling a mob in that voting population of the countryside, men tramping over the mountains, men going to the general store up in the village, men moving in the little talking groups to the corner grocery to cast their ballots, –is that your notion of a mob? Or is that your picture of a free, self-governing people? I am not afraid of the judgments so expressed, if you give men time to think, if you give them a clear conception of the things they are to vote for; because the deepest conviction and passion of my heart is that the common people, by which I mean all of us, are to be absolutely trusted.

“So, at this opening of a new age, in this its day of unrest and discontent, it is our part to clear the air, to bring about common counsel; to set up the parliament of the people; to demonstrate that we are fighting no man, that we are trying to bring all men to understand one another; that we are not the friends of any lass against any other class, but that our duty is to make classes understand one another. Our part is to lift so high the incomparable standards of the common interest and the common justice that all men with vision, all men with hope, all men with the convictions of America in their hearts, will crowd to that standard and a new day of achievement may come for the liberty which we love.”

Wilson, Woodrow. “Chapter 5/The Parliament of the People.” The New Freedom; a Call for the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People. New York and Garden City: Doubleday, Page, 1913. 108-110. Print.

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