Over the last several years, largely since the Right assumed control (a nicer thing to say than outright ownership) of all three branches of the Government, those on the left have been positively inundated with two terms: "We won, you lost, the majority has spoken" and various forms of "The robed Oligarchy". While folks with a higher IQ than that of your average brick believe this be pure crap, we are sometimes hard pressed to explain why neither term has merit. So, I'm going to give it a shot.
This whole majority thing has puzzled me for years. We are constantly told that not everyone of voting age registered to vote, though the increase in registration during 2000 and 2004, and not all those who registered actually voted. So I wanted to find out what this majority consisted of, and what it amounted to.
The population of the US, according to the Census Bureau, is around 298 million people. Of this population, 197 million are citizens of voting age, which represents 66% of the total population. Of those citizens capable of voting, 142 million of them are registered to vote, which represents 72% of the voting age population and just about 48% of the total population. At this point, it becomes pretty obvious that a "majority" of people CANNOT vote. But, lest we dilute the stats, let's move on to those who actually voted. According to the Census doc linked to above, approximately 126 million registered voters actually voted. This represents 88% of those registered and 42% of the total population. Wait, it gets worse. Wikipedia asserts that around 123 million people voted for president, which represents 97% of voters (sounds good, right?), 86% of those registered to vote, 62% of voting age citizens, and 41% of the total population.
And President George W Bush, the man with the mandate, acquired just over 50% (50.77% according to Wikipedia) of that presidential vote. So, he got 62 million votes, or thereabouts. That amounts to 43% of registered voters, 31% of voting age citizens, and 20.8% of the total population of the country. That's not a majority, that's not a plurality, that's not a mandate for jack shit.
Now, I'll be a lot more concise about this whole judicial oligarchy meme. There are 535 members of Congress, 9 Justices in the Supreme Court, 15 Cabinet positions, The President and The VP, to run the country. 542 of those positions are elected, the remainder are appointed or hired. Knowing that all the Federal power in this country is concentrated in the hands 0 .000001% of the country's population puts a different complexion on the whole oligarchy thing. As if that wasn't enough, according to Heritage.org, incumbents enjoy an overwhelming advantage in their re-election campaigns in terms of name recognition, access to party money, and contributions from "business interests" whose positions they support. They also tend to get re-elected more than 90% of the time. In fact, the leadership of the both party's tend to retain their seats for DECADES, and achieve seniority positions on committees that control how the government functions. They appoint judges, particularly to the Federal bench, to LIFETIME appointments.
Yeah, there's an oligarchy all right, but it goes much deeper than the incurious parroters of the current "majority" talking points can begin to believe. You know the key difference? Legislators make the law, but judges are bound by it. They are reliant on precedent and on established law, which naturally curtails the lengths to which they can go. Not so the legislators who can create law with a single person as the target (Terry Schiavo), can abridge the rights of a minority in egregious ways (homosexuals), and can overreach their offices in the most ridiculous of ways by legislating sentencing laws. I don't care to have judges in charge any more than I do politicians, but I can't help viewing those in the "unelected judges" camp with the same mild pity I view Intelligent Designers, Young Earthers, and the Heavens Gaters.