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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 6, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Legislature: Supermajorities only protect the minority

Guest columnist Jason Mercier and Chris Cargill’s defense of supermajorities is unpersuasive [“The case for a supermajority vote on tax increases,” Opinion, Nov. 4]. In a democracy where majority rule is the time-honored tradition, supermajorities are justifiable only where they slow voter action on matters in which the velocity of change is important.

In such cases — think constitutional amendment — the requirement ensures that basic governmental structures or functions are not changed frequently to reflect passing fashions and excitements, depriving the system of needed stability, consistency and predictability.

On issues where the speed of change is not particularly important — think tax measures — supermajorities function only to allow a minority to protect some advantage it has. That is plainly undemocratic.

It is self-evident double speak to say, as the authors do, that a measure adopted by majority vote of an elected body does not have “public support,” or to denigrate the majority rule principle with the qualifier “simple.” There is nothing simple about majority rule; it is the cornerstone of the democratic process.

William R. Andersen, Seattle

Comments | More in Legislature | Topics: Chris Cargill, Jason Mercier, Legislature

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