Edgefield County As It Happens
Edgefield County, South Carolina

October 14, 2005

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Is majority rule the American way?


web posted October 14, 2005

When taken in context the “democratic process” most often used in terms of legislation and zoning is completely unconstitutional. The Constitution is not built on the majority rules mentality, though that is what is has been perverted over the last two generations to mean. The Founders had a far different view of the Republic they founded for us; that is the rights of the individual.

This basic right of the individual permeates every faction of our government’s foundations. The first misconception is rights are guaranteed or granted by the government, far from it. The Constitution does not limit the rights of the people; it constrains the rights of government. “Government” is something our Founding Fathers called a “necessary evil.”

Just because a majority of local people may want to run out in mob rule and “string up” someone they believe deserves it, the individual has rights granted by Our Creator. This county is founded on the Rule of Law which the government, first, must adhere to. More importantly the individual citizen is the most important citizen. If he has no rights then no one has any rights.

In the matter of zoning the Lake Trenton and Courtney Road areas it is fairly well understood, and accepted, that if a vast majority want zoning or restrictions placed on all surrounding land owners then that is what should take place. In practice that sounds sensible.

It is just as sensible, and possible, to find the same majority willing to hang an accused child molester. That does not make it legal because our rights are individually assured, not collectively divided. If that were the case if the majority of the people standing next to you at any given time agree you need a punch in the nose you should get it.

We can all agree that is nonsense.

However it is no different when you take a single landowner’s rights to use of property away because a majority of his neighbors think they know better what should be done on surrounding property. Indeed that is not just a punch in the nose it is a sledgehammer to the financial workings of the individual property owner. Is that to mean zoning is never to be used, positively not.

Zoning, just like government, is a necessary evil in our county today. In towns and cities it has to be used in order to provide services like power, water, sewage, roads, and schools. However the use of that power should always be placed on the back of the individual, not the collective “democratic” use of government, in unincorporated areas of the county. A Democracy is what our Founders warned against and wrote our Constitution to prevent.

Far be it that anyone would suggest that the majority controls the minority in our country. If you think that is true then you certainly feel we should never have had a “civil rights” movement during the 1960’s to protect the black minority population, after all the “majority” rules.

Is one population any different than the next? Are we limited in our thinking that only classes of people; race, “sexual orientation”, religion, or any other pigeonhole you want to use to show your position is in the majority should be used to force government to impose your will upon another individual?

What if the majority were to determine the minority of a population should pay all the taxes? More so if you are in the minority of the population as determined by the majority?

The reason property rights is such a hot topic is because it goes against everything we hold dear in our hearts; our right to our homes being “our castles”. A place where no other person can intrude, something zoning does.

What is the solution to the Lake Trenton and Courtney Road area? We do not know. But we do know that reactionary zoning is always a bad idea.

Perhaps the communities can form larger associations rather than zoning other landowners who do not agree by excluding them from the covenants. Without question covenants could be accomplished far easier and far more quickly than zoning and is just as effective in court.

In any regard we are pleased the Edgefield County Planning Commission is on the record as saying they will include everyone in their decision. The fatal mistake residents can make is to allow the current situation to go unnoticed until it reaches your front door. Planning Commissioner Dick Harper was correct in stating the dozen people present would not be there if it were not for a chicken farm in their area. That is a shame. The decisions made affect the entire county and the county as a whole should be involved.

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