Problem is, they almost always do the popular thing. And not just popular of the people, but popular of corporations, special interest groups, and lobbyists
I wouldn't call that doing the popular thing though, unless you consider that the policies are made popular through propaganda.
I mean popular as in, whatever is going to get them support in a reelection...and we have seen in the last several elections that money has more if an effect than voters
In the 19th century (before the Civil War) the popular thing would have been allowing slavery. And now the popular thing is blaming the immigrants for almost all of our problems.
Who says the popular thing isn't the right thing though?
I would say that. Governments must sometimes protect the rights of a minority. For example, the internment of Japanese Americans in 1942 might have been the popular thing to do, but it was wrong. The constitution should have protected those people, and the government should have enforced that protection.
Example: No taxes!