Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Great Experiment

Some quotes on democracy for your Independence Day edification.

Agnes Repplier:
Democracy forever teases us with the contrast between its ideals and its realities, between its heroic possibilities and its sorry achievements.
Alexis de Tocqueville:
The surface of American society is covered with a layer of democratic paint, but from time to time one can see the old aristocratic colours breaking through.
If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.
Barbara Ehrenreich:
That's free enterprise, friends: freedom to gamble, freedom to lose. And the great thing -- the truly democratic thing about it -- is that you don't even have to be a player to lose.
C. S. Lewis:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust.
Dorothy Thompson:
It is not the fact of liberty but the way in which liberty is exercised that ultimately determines whether liberty itself survives.
E. B. White:
Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.
Edward Dowling:
The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.
Eleanor Holmes Norton:
The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don't agree with.
Eugene McCarthy:
As long as the differences and diversities of mankind exist, democracy must allow for compromise, for accommodation, and for the recognition of differences.
Eugene V. Debs:
When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong. The minority are right.
George Bernard Shaw:
Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.
George Orwell:
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
George Washington:
As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.
H. L. Mencken:
As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
H. L. Mencken:
A good politician under democracy is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.
Howard Winters:
Civilization is the process in which one gradually increases the number of people included in the term 'we' or 'us' and at the same time decreases those labeled 'you' or 'them' until that category has no one left in it.
Hubert H. Humphrey:
The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
Irving Kristol:
Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions - it only guarantees equality of opportunity.
J. William Fulbright:
In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith.
Jane Auer:
Voting is one of the few things where boycotting in protest clearly makes the problem worse rather than better.
Jesse Jackson:
In politics, an organized minority is a political majority.
John Dewey:
The aim of education is to enable individuals to continue their education ... (and) the object and reward of learning is continued capacity for growth. Now this idea cannot be applied to all the members of a society except where intercourse of man with man is mutual, and except where there is adequate provision for the reconstruction of social habits and institutions by means of wide stimulation arising from equitably distributed interests. And this means a democratic society.
John F. Kennedy:
We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.
John Gardner:
The citizen can bring our political and governmental institutions back to life, make them responsive and accountable, and keep them honest. No one else can.
John Simon:
Democracy encourages the majority to decide things about which the majority is ignorant.
Laurence J. Peter:
Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame.
Mark Twain:
We adore titles and heredities in our hearts and ridicule them with our mouths. This is our democratic privilege.
Meg Greenfield:
Everybody's for democracy in principle. It's only in practice that the thing gives rise to stiff objections.
Mohandas K. Gandhi:
The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.
Mohandas K. Gandhi:
In true democracy every man and women is taught to think for himself or herself.
Mohandas K. Gandhi:
The spirit of democracy cannot be established in the midst of terrorism, whether governmental or popular.
Molly Ivins:
The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion.
Noam Chomsky:
The most effective way to restrict democracy is to transfer decision-making from the public arena to unaccountable institutions: kings and princes, priestly castes, military juntas, party dictatorships, or modern corporations.
Noam Chomsky:
In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than just ideals to be valued - they may be essential to survival.
Paulo Freire:
Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.
Robert M. Hutchins:
The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.
Stuart Chase:
Democracy, as has been said of Christianity, has never really been tried.
Theodore Parker:
Democracy means not "I am as good as you are" but "You are as good as I am."
Thomas Jefferson:
Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.
Thomas Jefferson:
I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master.
Thomas Jefferson:
The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.
Vince Lombardi:
Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.
Wendell Phillips:
Governments exist to protect the rights of minorities. The loved and the rich need no protection: they have many friends and few enemies.
William J. Bennett:
America's support for human rights and democracy is our noblest export to the world.


Blogger Gannet Girl said...

Oh, this is a terrific entry! I'll be back after The Trip to copy some of it.

July 05, 2006 6:44 AM  
Blogger Globetrotter said...

Fabulous quotes, Cynthia! These need to be archived and remembered. I especially loved the C.S.Lewis quote.

July 05, 2006 11:03 AM  

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