We the People Quotes about government, democracy and citizens.

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Select a quote. Write an essay about how it reflects what you feel about current events or government.

"A free society depends upon a high degree of mutual trust. The public will not give that trust to officials who are not seen to be impartially dedicated to the general public interest, nor will they give trust to those high in government who violate the rule of law they ask citizens to obey at the expense of self-interest, or to those who present government as the place where one feathers his own nest, [or] exchanges favors with friends and former associates." Archibald Cox, Common Cause Chairman Emeritus

"Each generation has a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most promotive of its happiness."
Thomas Jefferson, 1812

"The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment."
- Robert M. Huchins

"The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question it's methods or throw light upon it's crimes". - Abraham Lincoln

"If there is one principle more deeply rooted in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest."
- Thomas Jefferson

Democracy shows not only its power in reforming governments, but in regenerating a race of men—and this is the greatest blessing of free governments. - Andrew Jackson

The true patriot is motivated by a sense of responsibility and out of self-interest for himself, his family, and the future of his country to resist government abuse of power. He rejects the notion that patriotism means obedience to the state. Resistance need not be violent, but the civil disobedience that might be required involves confrontation with the state and invites possible imprisonment. - Ron Paul

"The common people feel themselves oppressed by the grasping of some, and their vanity is flattered by others. Fired with evil passions, they are no longer willing to submit to control, but demand that everything be subject to their authority. The invariable result is that government assumes the noble names of free and popular, but becomes in fact the most execrable thing, mob rule."
- Polybius, 126 B.C.

"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

"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

"The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not want virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots."
- Elbridge Gerry

"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."
- Edward Dowling

“The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.”
George Washington, 1787

"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

"It has been observed that a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people themselves deliberated, never possessed one feature of good government. Their very character was tyranny: their figure deformity."
- Alexander Hamilton

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

"Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people."
- Oscar Wilde

"The efforts of the government alone will never be enough. In the end the people must choose and the people must help themselves."
- John F. Kennedy

Not our location is important, but the direction in which we move.
Lev Tolstoy

Every person knows that he should do what unites, not divides, him and other people.
Lev Tolstoy

Governments need armies to protect them from their enslaved and oppressed subjects.
Lev Tolstoy

The laws of economics tell us that the expansion of the central state can't go on forever. Its limit is reached when the looted turn on the looters.
Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr

It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority.
Lord Acton

The essence of democracy is not that everyone makes and administers laws but that lawgivers and rulers should be dependent on the people's will in such a way that they may be peaceably changed if conflict occurs. Ludwig von Mises

In the long run the ideas of the majority, however detrimental they may be, will carry on. The future of mankind depends on the ability of the elite to influence public opinion in the right direction. Ludwig von Mises

Despots and democratic majorities are drunk with power.
Ludwig von Mises

Those believing they have not voted are mistaken, for their indifference affects all our futures.
M.A. Denck

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Machiavelli

In matters of conscience, the law of majority has no place.
Mahatma Gandhi

There is no reason to believe that there is one law for families and another for nations.
Mahatma Gandhi

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
Mahatma Gandhi

Retaliation is counter-poison and poison breeds more poison. The nectar of Love alone can destroy the poison of hate.
Mahatma Gandhi

I see neither bravery nor sacrifice in destroying life or property, for offense or defense.
Mahatma Gandhi

To answer brutality with brutality is to admit one's moral and intellectual bankruptcy.
Mahatma Gandhi

Whenever you have truth it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected.
Mahatma Gandhi

Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state becomes lawless or corrupt.
Mahatma Gandhi

Democracy and violence can ill go together.
Mahatma Gandhi

Evolution of democracy is not possible if we are not prepared to hear the other side.
Mahatma Gandhi

In true democracy every man and woman is taught to think for himself or herself.
Mahatma Gandhi

Democracy is not a state in which people act like sheep.
Mahatma Gandhi

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

Nonviolence is not a weapon of the weak. It is a weapon of the strongest and bravest.
Mahatma Gandhi

The force generated by nonviolence is infinitely greater than the force of all the arms created by man's ingenuity.
Mahatma Gandhi

A "No" uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a "Yes" merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.
Mahatma Gandhi

The only tyrant I accept in this world is the still voice within.
Mahatma Gandhi

What you do is of little significance, but it is very important that you do it.
Mahatma Gandhi

We must become the change we want to see in the world.
Mahatma Gandhi

The only devils in the world are those running around in our own hearts - that is where the battle should be fought.
Mahatma Gandhi

Performance of one's duties should be independent of public opinion.
Mahatma Gandhi

The spirit of democracy cannot be superimposed from the outside. It must come from within.
Mahatma Gandhi

I understand democracy as something that gives the weak the same chance as the strong.
Mahatma Gandhi

Democracy means: Sticking to the rules of the game, even when the referee is not looking.
Manfred Hausmann

It is as hard for the good to suspect evil, as it is for the bad to suspect good.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

We adore titles and heredities in our hearts and ridicule them with our mouths. This is our democratic privilege.
Mark Twain

Democracy is the name we give the people whenever we need them.
Marquis de Flers Robert and Arman de Caillavet

In actual fact those who do not care for politics and sit on the fence do indeed side for a political party: The ruling party.
Max Frisch

The dignity of man is in free choice.
Max Frisch

Any law which violates the indefeasible rights of man is essentially unjust and tyrannical; it is not a law at all.
Maximilien Robespierre

Everybody's for democracy in principle. It's only in practice that the thing gives rise to stiff objections.
Meg Greenfield

To feed men and not to love them is to treat them as if they were barnyard cattle. To love them and not respect them is to treat them as if they were household pets. Mencius, philosopher

The Constitution, in a very significant sense, is not a mechanism for making decisions but preventing them.
Michael Gilson De Lomos

Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.
Michel de Montaigne

Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.
Mignon McLaughlin

The human race has entered a stage where we are all dependent on each other. No other country or nation should be regarded in total separation from another, let alone pitted against another.
Mikhail Gorbachev

If you are called upon to govern humans, treat them humanely.
Mikhail Kalinin

In democracy its your vote that counts. In feudalism its your count that votes.
Mogens Jallberg

In democracy its your vote that counts.; In feudalism its your count that votes.
Mogens Jallberg

It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.

Whatever field of human activity one may take, only those trends that are in harmony with the needs of society show rapid progress.
Nikolai Chernyshevsky

If an individual agrees with everybody, he lacks conviction; if he likes everybody and is everybody's friend, he is indifferent to one and all.
Nikolai Dobrolyubov

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

A modern democracy is a tyranny whose borders are undefined; one discovers how far one can go only by traveling in a straight line until one is stopped. Norman Mailer

Who's more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him?
Obi Wan Kenobi

I have no respect for the passion for equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr

Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.
Oscar Wilde

Democracy is the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Laws are like sausages. You sleep far better the less you know about how they are made.
Otto Von Bismark

Traditions are never left in peace: they degenerate if they are not perfected.
P. A. Pavlenko

Politicians are always interested in people. Not that this is always a virtue. Fleas are interested in dogs.
P.J. O’Rourke

Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
Paulo Freire

The common people suffer when the powerful disagree.

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

Democracy is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequal alike.

When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them,
then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader. - Plato

Justice will only exist where those not effected by injustice are filled with the same amount of indignation as those offended.

The history of any nation is not only a succession of events, but also a chain of ideas.
Pyotr Chaadayev

There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship.
Ralph Nader

Democracy becomes a government of bullies tempered by editors.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you put a chain around the neck of a slave, the other end fastens itself around your own.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Democracy feeds on argument, on the discussion as to the right way forward. This is the reason why respecting the opinion of others belongs to democracy. Richard von Weizsacker

The greatest fallacy of democracy is that everyone's opinion is worth the same.
Robert Anson Heinlein

We once worried that democracy could not survive if an undereducated populace knew too little. Now we worry if it can survive us knowing too much. Robert Bianco

Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least.
Robert Byrne

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope...build(ing) a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Robert F. Kennedy

The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy,
indifference, and under nourishment. Robert Hutchins

Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority
a great deal of discretion about what you do. Rudolf Giuliani

The way to virtually eliminate genocide and mass murder appears to be through restricting and checking power.
This means to foster democratic freedom. Rudolph Rummel

Violence is the last resource of the incompetence.
Salvor Hardin

He that accepts protection, stipulates obedience.
Samuel Johnson

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.
Saul Bellow

Democracy is a form of government in which it is permitted to wonder aloud what the country could do under first-class management.
Senator Soaper

Good government could never be a substitute for government by the people themselves. - Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, British Prime Minister

The more corrupt the state, the numerous the laws.

The flood of money that gushes into politics today is a pollution of democracy.
Theodore H. White

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

Restlessness and discontent are the first necessities of progress.
Thomas A. Edison

I have long been convinced that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty or civilization, or both.
Thomas Babington Macaulay

If a little knowledge is dangerous, where is the man who has so much as to be out of danger?
Thomas Henry Huxley

Unnecessary laws are not good laws, but traps for money.
Thomas Hobbes

Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.
Thomas Jefferson

In a government bottomed on the will of all, the... liberty of every individual citizen becomes interesting to all.
Thomas Jefferson

The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society. Thomas Jefferson

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
Thomas Jefferson

Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves.
Thomas Jefferson

I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but the people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take power from them, but to inform them by education. Thomas Jefferson

It is the old practice of despots to use a part of the people to keep the rest in order.
Thomas Jefferson

It's not the voting that's democracy; it's the counting.
Tom Stoppard

The most serious threat to democracy is the notion that it has already been achieved.

A great war always creates more scoundrels than it kills.

Democracy is a government where you can say what you think even if you don't think.

When the government fears the people, that is LIBERTY. When people fear the government, that is TYRANNY.

When a nation's government becomes more fearful of its citizens' rights than protective of them,
that nation's future is only despotism and extinction.

He who fox-like got his rank, Is wolf-like in his office.
V. A. Zhukovsky

Politics is the most concentrated expression of economics.
V. I. Lenin

Face the truth squarely. In politics that is always the best and the only correct attitude.
V. I. Lenin

False rhetoric and false boastfulness spell moral ruin and lead unfailingly to political extinction.
V. I. Lenin

Honesty in politics is the result of strength; hypocrisy is the result of weakness. - V. I. Lenin

Our idea is that a state is strong when the people are politically conscious. It is strong when the people know everything,
can form an opinion of everything, and do everything consciously. - V. I. Lenin

Don't be afraid to admit defeat. Learn from defeat. Do over again more thoroughly, more carefully,
and more systematically what you have done badly V. I. Lenin

Politics and war are remarkably similar situations.
Newt Gingrich

The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument.
Newt Gingrich

Life teaches none but those who study it.
V. O. Kliuchevsky

The right to be respected is won by respecting others.
Vassily Sukhomlinsky

I am strongly convinced that the people or society is the best and the most unerring critic.
Vissarion Belinsky

Democracy is when you are not closed for being open. - Vlada Bulatovitch

A great many laws in a country, like many physicians, is a sign of malady.

We must abandon the notion that the people govern. Instead, we must adopt the theory that, by their occasional mobilisations as a majority,
people support or oppose the individuals who actually govern. -
Walter Lippman

This is one of the paradoxes of the democratic movement -- that it loves a crowd and fears the individuals who compose it -- that the religion of humanity should have no faith in human beings.
Walter Lippmann

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

Political elections do not choose leaders of society. Rather, they are an exercise in which groups of people choose individuals who will assist them in looting other groups of individuals. - William Anderson

The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry. -
William F. Buckley

The real difference between the United States and other nations lies not in the words of the preamble to the Constitution, but in the fact that the substantive clauses of that Constitution are enforced by individuals independent of and not beholden to the elected branches.
Harold H. Greene

Truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders than the arguments of its opposers.
William Penn

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom: it is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.
William Pitt

A politician will do anything to keep his job - even become a patriot.
William Randolph Hearst

The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
Winston Churchill

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those others that have been tried. - Winston Churchil

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