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Quotations on Democracy

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Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.

~ George Bernard Shaw

... government that "substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few."

~ George Bernard Shaw

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.

~ Voltaire

Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.

~ Abraham Lincoln

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.

~ Abraham Lincoln

To safeguard democracy the people must have a keen sense of independence, self-respect, and their oneness.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

In true democracy every man and women is taught to think for himself or herself.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

The spirit of democracy cannot be established in the midst of terrorism, whether governmental or popular.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

In a democracy, the individual enjoys not only the ultimate power but carries the ultimate responsibility.

~ Norman Cousins

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.

~ Alexis de Tocqueville

Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.

~ Aristotle

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.

~ C.S. Lewis

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.

~ Demosthenes

It is not the fact of liberty but the way in which liberty is exercised that ultimately determines whether liberty itself survives.

~ Dorothy Thompson

The only force that can overcome an idea and a faith is another and better idea and faith, positively and fearlessly upheld.

~ Dorothy Thompson

Of all forms of government and society, those of free men and women are in many respects the most brittle. They give the fullest freedom for activities of private persons and groups who often identify their own interests, essentially selfish, with the general welfare.

~ Dorothy Thompson

Democracy is itself, a religious faith. For some it comes close to being the only formal religion they have.

~ E. B. White

Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.

~ E. B. White

When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong. The minority are right.

~ Eugene V. Debs

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.

~ George Orwell

Democracy is only a dream: it should be put in the same category as Arcadia, Santa Claus, and Heaven.

~ 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

- The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920

A good politician under democracy is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.

~ H.L. Mencken

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right.

~ H.L. Mencken

- 1956

Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.

~ H.L. Mencken

Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country. quote verified at

~ Hermann Goering

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.

~ Hubert H. Humphrey

In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects.

~ J. William Fulbright

When public men indulge themselves in abuse, when they deny others a fair trial, when they resort to innuendo and insinuation, to libel, scandal, and suspicion, then our democratic society is outraged, and democracy is baffled.

~ J. William Fulbright

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 Dewey

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 F. Kennedy

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

There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones: honest search for understanding, education, organization, action that raises the cost of state violence for its perpetrators or that lays the basis for institutional change - and the kind of commitment that will persist despite the temptations of disillusionment, despite many failures and only limited successes, inspired by the hope of a brighter future.

~ 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.

~ Noam Chomsky

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.

~ Plato

Democracy, as has been said of Christianity, has never really been tried.

~ Stuart Chase

Democracy means not "I am as good as you are" but "You are as good as I am."

~ Theodore Parker

Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.

~ Vince Lombardi

Governments exist to protect the rights of minorities. The loved and the rich need no protection: they have many friends and few enemies.

~ Wendell Phillips

Democracy is the form of government that gives every man the right to be his own oppressor.

~ James Russell Lowell

Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.

~ Reinhold Niebuhr

You can never have a revolution in order to establish a democracy. You must have a democracy in order to have a revolution.

~ G.K. Chesterton

Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.

~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

Democracy is good. I say this because other systems are worse.

~ Jawaharlal Nehru

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.

~ John Quincy Adams

Too many people expect wonders from democracy, when the most wonderful thing of all is just having it.

~ Walter Winchell

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