A democracy governs by majority rule, but it is moved by minority will. In every instance of significant civic change, it is the majority that bends to a minority. When we talk of the “will of the people” or ask whether there is “popular will” for change, we are never talking about all the people or even most of them. We are always talking about a minority—an activated, effective minority of people who act bigger than they are, change the agenda and narrative, and eventually move attitudes and beliefs enough to get a numerical majority of citizens to agree with or at least tolerate their stance. According to voter turnout data from the 2016 presidential primaries, just 9 percent of all Americans made Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump the major-party nominees. In most local elections in the United States, the turnout of eligible voters ranges from single digits to 20 percent. They are the ones who decide. Their preferences advance. The minority that shows up, goes up.
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