The will of the majority is naturally powerful in a democracy. Most American constitutions have strengthened this natural power even further by providing that representatives to the legislatures are appointed directly by the people for short terms (such that the legislature is very ready to obey the wishes of the majority), and then by concentrating almost all of the powers of government in the legislatures. The majority derives its moral authority from the notion that: (1) a great number will tend to be more enlightened than a small group of men; and (2) the interest of the greatest number should be preferred to that of the few. Primarily, however, Americans accept the power of the majority because they all hope to profit from it someday. This gives the majority immense power.
There is nothing to stop the majority once it has decided on a course of action. Further, once the majority has irrevocably decided a question, it is no longer discussed. This is because the majority is a power that does not respond well to criticism. Those who hold views different than the majority are ostricised. There is little independence of mind or true freedom of discussion in America.
The modern American tends to conform to the ideas of the majority rather than rebel against them. The powers granted to the majority in America leave the minority in danger of being subjected to tyranny. There are very few checks in America against this possibility. To minimize the risks of tyranny, the legislature should be chosen by the majority, the executive must have a strength of its own, and the judicial power must be independent of the two others. This is not the situation in most American States.
The potential for misuse of the power of the majority is the greatest threat to American political institutions. Misuse of power often leads to a loss of that power through a revolution. Although the American governments are centralized, their projects can only be carried out by decentralized agents in the townships and counties. This tends to retard the imposition of the will of the majority. If administration was ever centralized, the despotism would be intolerable.
Lawyers tend to bring an aristocratic element to American democracy, which provides one of the strongest barriers against its faults. Civil juries protect against tyranny by making all citizens a part of the judicial process. They instill some of the habits of the judicial mind into every citizen. They provide a respect for court decisions and an idea of right throughout all classes. The jury is the most effective way of establishing the people’s rule and the most effective way of teaching them how to rule.