The elevation of democracy to a desirable political end rather than a means to achieve a liberal economically dynamic society is some distance from the understanding of democracy in the minds of the framers of the Constitution.

Kevin Williams writes in National Review, On the Dangers of Democracy:


For more than a century, we have used “democracy” as a shorthand for good and decent government, and also to indicate a distinctly progressive American view of good government. The founding father of American progressivism, Woodrow Wilson, demanded a war, because, as he said, “The world must be made safe for democracy.” When the American Left speaks about its desire to exercise power over businesses or private life, it says that it wishes to “democratize” this or that enterprise. Bernie Sanders calls his proposal to plunder his political enemies his plan for “Corporate Accountability and Democracy.” The more clever kind of Marxist speaks about “economic democracy.” Yet in spite of all this, the word “democracy” retains its positive connotations.

This has not always been the case. The libertarian writer James Bovard famously worried about vulgar majoritarianism, the kind of democracy that amounts to “two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” (The quip often is misattributed to Ben Franklin, among others.) The American founders by and large feared and despised democracy, which they took from their experience to be a dreary antechamber to anarchy. Democracy in their view was only dominatio plebis, a mutant kind of tyranny but tyranny nonetheless — not a brake on authoritarianism but authoritarianism itself. This anti-democratic spirit animated the thinking of both of the Presidents Adams, which was philosophically sound but politically disastrous: Each refused to flatter the mob, and they became the first and second presidents to fail to achieve reelection.

American progressives have had a complicated relationship with the demos. Progressives have simultaneously sought to make American government more democratic by undermining anti-democratic institutions such as the Senate (which they deformed with direct elections) and by displacing federalist institutions with nationalist ones; at the same time, they historically have sought to limit and diminish the role of legislatures, supplanting them with an administrative state under the guidance of experts (and “experts”) guided by what American academic pretense has christened “political science.” (One of the early presidents of the American Political Science Association was none other than Woodrow Wilson of Princeton.) Progressives who argue for a more parliamentary form of government, longer presidential terms, and longer congressional terms and the like operate within the same contradiction, desiring a government that is both more authentically an expression of majority preferences but also one that is relatively unconstrained by the fickleness of majorities, who are apt to change their minds between one November and the next. That the temporary character of majority preferences could call into question the authenticity and accuracy of any given election as an expression of the popular will is one of those political dilemmas that must be studiously ignored. This is understood by progressives to be a technical challenge for the political scientists rather than a disability.


Progressives wish for more democracy yet wish to move the accountability of the administrative state further from the accountability of the voter.  Progress comes from the unique output from a minority.  Minority rights should be protected from majority rule.  Freedom should not be sacrificed to the false god of democracy.