From National Affairs George Will writes The Limits of Majority Rule.  I strongly recommend you read the entire essay.

an excerpt:

So, we must ask: How aberrant, or how frequent, are abusive majorities? A related but different question is: When legislatures, which are majoritarian bodies, act, how often are they actually acting on behalf of majorities? My belief, based on almost half a century observing Washington, the beating heart of American governance, is that as government becomes bigger and more hyperactive, as the regulatory, administrative state becomes more promiscuously intrusive in the dynamics of society and the lives of individuals, only a steadily shrinking portion of what the government does is even remotely responsive to the will of a majority.

Rather, the more that government decides that there are no legal or practical limits to its proper scope and actual competence, the more time and energy it devotes to serving the interests of minority — often very small minority — factions. So, paradoxically, as government becomes bigger, its actions become smaller; as it becomes more grandiose in its pretensions, its preoccupations become more minute.


This is a great irony that Will uncovers. The more our Progressive government sought to weigh democracy and majoritarianism over liberty the more it subverted majoritarian will by succumbing to special interests. Courts ruled that as long as laws had a rational basis dictated by a majoritarian election then judicial activists justified using the courts to uphold legislative action rather than enforce constitutional limits. Part of the explanation is  the growth of the administrative state which gave way to the regulatory and welfare state. The micromanagement beginning under FDR led to intense lobbying and cronyism which subverted the interests of the majority. Progressivism which sought to counter the special interests and influence of the Gilded Age merely replaced the corruption with the official channels of  registered lobbying.