I think that it is a valid assessment of what Democracy has become, but the truth of what Democracy is intended to do is to make certain that the rights of the few aren't trampled by the many. That was the intent of the founding fathers in their drafting of the consititution.
This isn't just supposition on my part; it's based on the writings of Jefferson, Franklin, and others on the principles and purposes of government. The founding fathers were well read men, familiar with the theories and principals of government. They certainly had their flaws, but they did not lightly undertake creating a new nation. It's not the majority that needs protecting; by sheer numbers they have power to do as they please. The constitution protects the few, those whose voices who would otherwise be drowned out. Democracy is not majority rule, real democracy is about consensus.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.The rights spoken of are individual rights and the very purpose of government is to protect those rights, not to ensure that the majority has its rights enforced at the expense of the minority. The tragedy is that too many elected officials have forgotten that and so have the people. Majority rule is simply a variation on "might makes right" which is the very ideology rejected by the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.
The right often references "majority rule." I see it in the comments left after news stories and blog posts. They declare that Obama is ruining this country and trying to take away the rights of the majority and give them to illegal aliens and minorities. If the concept of majority rule were allowed to fully play out, personal liberties and freedoms would wax and wane dependent upon who was in power. I hate to think what would have become of the civil rights movement under a philosophy of majority rule. Indeed, most progressive change takes place in spite of majority rule, implemented and pushed forward by laws designed to protect the rights of groups that are marginalized by the majority. Government cannot be run on a principal of majority rule; if it were, someone would always be being shafted.
Is this an idealistic view of democracy? Of course it is, but re-read the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights. All of these writings, which form the foundation of our government, are filled with idealism. To be idealistic isn't to be naive, it is to believe that striving to be better than we are is what makes us human; idealism is the very core of the best of humanity.
I was drawn to Obama's candidacy because of his idealism, his belief that we all could be better than we are. Has his idealism made him vulnerable? I think the answer is yes, but I also think that he's learning how to balance his idealism in an arena that does not value idealism or its mate, integrity.
Idealism is not about being a starry-eyed dreamer, it's about adhering to your principals; it's about believing that how you accomplish your goals is just as important as accomplishing them.
Btw, Jack, I read your comment and I will get around to answering your intriguing question.