Masses are not asses as Alexander Hamilton characterized them. On the contrary, populations are remarkably sensible. Many ostensible aberrations are superficial. Russians supported socialist revolution as the only imaginable alternative to oppressive monarchy, and supported socialism afterwards because propaganda convinced them that capitalism offers fewer economic opportunities. Once the information barrier was broken in the mid-1950s, and especially the 1980s, and Russians realized that Americans lived much better than they did, communism was doomed. In another example, Israelis did not vote for the kind of Rabin who signed the Oslo accords, but for the Rabin who ordered the Israeli army to break the hands and legs of Arabs during the Intifada. Israelis voted for Begin (Sinai), Shamir (Madrid), Rabin (Oslo), Netanyahu (Wye River), and Sharon (Gaza), all of whom promised a hard-line approach to the Arabs, but lied; Shimon Peres openly appeases the Arabs and never gained support among Jews. All polls indicate that Israelis think rationally: they want a Jewish state free of Arabs in defensible borders, and oppose a Palestinian state.

Israeli leftists predominantly resent the Arabs and gladly kill them in wars. Ben-Gurion helped 600,000 Arabs to flee Israel in 1948. The left, however, is rational: if the Arabs cannot be driven out, the Jews have to coexist with them. If Israel cannot annex Judea and Samaria, it’s logical to give them away to Arabs. The left have all the correct premises except one: faith and vision overcome the boundaries of rational politics.

No one seeks popular consensus on scientific theories; a majority cannot decide which scientific hypothesis is correct. Politics is a science no less complex than others; more complex, actually, since it depends on subjective input from many players rather than objective observable facts as natural sciences. Politicians cannot fool people about goals, but can deceive about procedures. Socialists falsely assert that redistribution enhances general welfare; Israeli political crooks claim that sweeping concessions bring peace with determined Arab enemies.

Democratic elections bring autocrats to power. Elected politicians feel free to pursue any agenda, often contrary to their electoral promises. But people vote for platforms, not personalities. Electoral platforms form an integral part of an electoral mandate. Elected representatives, just like power-of-attorney representatives, are only authorized to carry out the principal’s express wishes. The Knesset must amend election laws so that voting bulletins include not only names, but also specific electoral promises which the politicians are not allowed to break.

Churchill was right: democracy is a bad system of government, except that others are worse. The Torah implies the democratic governing of Jewish communities in the injunction, “Do not follow the majority to evil.” Presumably in other instances one has to follow the majority. “Do not follow” is not passive. If the majority is deluded into thinking that homosexuality is a liberal value rather than an abomination, or that the destruction of Gush Katif will bring peace with the Arabs, passive resistance turns into acquiescence. “Do not follow” dictates continuing in status quo ante, the old ways. In the above examples the commandment tells us to continue treating homosexuality as wickedness and Gush Katif as Jewish land from which the Arabs are barred.

Ben Franklin advanced his version of the “do not follow” rule: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” That’s the essence of republican or liberal democracy: people submit to majority vote if it does not infringe on their dear values.

If it does infringe, then we have to fight.