We the People Quotes about government, democracy and citizens.

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Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.
John Adams

It is dissent from government policies that defines the true patriot and the champion of liberty.
Ron Paul

Reason obeys itself: Ignorance submits to what is dictated to it.
Thomas Paine

A financial panic is a very bad thing, but a government panic can do far greater damage in a far shorter time.
California State Senator Tom McClintock

"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

"The decree has gone forth, and cannot be recalled, that a more equal liberty than has prevailed in other parts of the earth must be established in America." John Adams founding father, 2nd President

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom,
go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you;
May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
Samuel Adams

“Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard
the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work
and sacrifice for that freedom.”
John F. Kennedy

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
Daniel Webster

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”John Philpot Curran

"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

"This immigration bill has become a war between the American people and their government. ... This vote today is really not about immigration,
it's about whether we're going to listen to the American people." Senator Jim DeMint

Liberty is always unfinished business.
John Adams

"The body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals; it is a social compact by which the whole people covenants with each citizen and each citizen with the whole people that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good. It is the duty of the people, therefore, in framing a constitution of government, to provide for an equitable mode of making laws, as well as for an impartial interpretation and a faithful execution of them; that every man may, at all times, find his security in them." John Adams Massachusetts Constitution 1780

"Small use it will be to save democracy for the race if we cannot save the race for democracy." Janette Rankin

The original Liberty Bell announced the creation of democracy; the Women's Liberty Bell will announce the completion of democracy.
– Katherine Ruschenberger, suffragist, New York Times, March 31, 1915.

A great democracy must be progressive or it will soon cease to be a great democracy.
Theodore Roosevelt

See Dissent and Patriotism

The greatest worry of all our dictators is to be found out by their own people.
Richard Mowrer

"The highest measure of democracy is neither the 'extent of freedom' nor the 'extent of equality', but rather the highest measure of participation." A. de Benoist

To criticize one's country is to do it a service. . . . Criticism, in short, is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism —
a higher form of patriotism, I believe, than the familiar rituals and national adulation. William Fulbright

Dissent Is the Highest Form of Patriotism Thomas Jefferson Howard Zinn

Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none. - Thomas Jefferson.

A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both.
James Madison

I confess that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them. For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.” — Benjamin Franklin, 1787

My political curiosity, exclusive of my anxious solicitude for the public welfare, leads me to ask who authorized them (the framers of the Constitution) to speak the language of ‘We, the People,’ instead of ‘We, the States’?”
— Patrick Henry, 1788 (Orations of American Orators)

"The recent death of Gene McCarthy reminded me of a lesson I spent a long, long time unlearning, so now I have to re-learn it. It's about political courage and heroes, and when a country is desperate for leadership. There are times when regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times." —Molly Ivins

"Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one." -- Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

As the British Constitution is the most subtle organism which has proceeded from the womb and long gestation of progressive history, so the American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”
— W. E. Gladstone

The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the Judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”
Thomas Jefferson

I consider the difference between a system founded on the legislatures only, and one founded on the people,
to be the true difference between a league or treaty and a constitution.” — James Madison, at the Constitutional Convention, 1787

Let our government be like that of the solar system. Let the general government be like the sun and the states the planets, repelled yet attracted, and the whole moving regularly and harmoniously in several orbits.” — John Dickinson (Delaware Delegate), 1787

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

In free countries, every man is entitled to express his opinions and every other man is entitled not to listen.”
— G. Norman Collie

Democracy is the form of government that gives every man the right to be his own oppressor.”
— James Russell Lowell

You can never have a revolution in order to establish a democracy. You must have a democracy in order to have a revolution.”
— Gilbert K. Chesterton

Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.”
— Harry Emerson Fosdick

Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
— Abraham Lincoln

Democracy is good. I say this because other systems are worse.”
— Jawaharlal Nehru

Democracy ... is a system of self-determination. It’s the right to make the wrong choice.”
— John Patrick

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

Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”
— Reinhold Niebuhr

A free government is a complicated piece of machinery, the nice and exact adjustment of whose springs, wheels, and weights,
is not yet well comprehended by the artists of the age, and still less by the people.” — John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, May 19, 1821

It is much easier to pull down a government, in such a conjuncture of affairs as we have seen, than to build up, at such a season as the present.”
— John Adams letter to James Warren, 1787

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis.
The great point is to bring them the real facts. Abraham Lincoln

Moderation in temper is always a virtue, but moderation in principle is always a vice.
Thomas Paine

To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man, to surrender the rights of humanity and even its duties.
Jean Jacques Rousseau

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.
Thomas Paine

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
George Orwell

If men were angels, no government would be necessary.
James Madison

It was government by discussion that broke the bond of ages and set free the originality of mankind.
John Adams

Show me the country in which there are no strikes and I'll show you that country in which there is no liberty.
Samuel Gompers

You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free.
Clarence S. Darrow

Good laws, if they are not obeyed, do not constitute good government.
John Adams

The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.
John Adams

That government is the strongest of which every man feels himself a part.
Jenghiz Khan

The law is reason unaffected by desire.
John Adams

Dishonesty in government is the business of every citizen.... It is not enough to do your own job. There's no particular virtue in that.
Democracy isn't a gift. It's a responsibility.
Dalton Trumbo

Power must never be trusted without a check.
John Adams

A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular. Adlai Ewing Stevenson

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. John F Kennedy

Ask not what you country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country. John F Kennedy

Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your hat, but it's something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles. Abbie Hoffman

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

Elections belong to the people. It is their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters. Abraham Lincoln

The ballot is stronger than the bullet. Abraham Lincoln

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

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. Abraham Lincoln

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

As a rule, dictatorships guarantee safe streets and terror of the doorbell. In democracy the streets may be unsafe after dark, but the most likely visitor in the early hours will be the milkman. Adam Michnik

Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter. African proverb

Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they've told you what you think it is you want to hear. Alan Coren

The true strength of rulers and empires lies not in armies or emotions, but in the belief of men that they are inflexibly open and truthful and legal. As soon as a government departs from that standard it ceases to be anything more than ‘the gang in possession,’ and its days are numbered.
Herbert George Wells

Freedom is when the people can speak, democracy is when the government listens. Alastair Farrugia

Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be. Sydney J. Harris

All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper. Benjamin Franklin in PA Constitution.

Dictatorships are one-way streets. Democracy boasts two-way traffic. Albert Moravia

Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. Aldous Huxley

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. Alexander Tytler

Democracy does not create strong ties between people. But it does make living together easier. Alexis de Tocqueville

The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order. Alfred North Whitehead

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any. Alice Walker

Intellectual freedom is the only guarantee of a scientific - democratic approach to politics, economic development, and culture.
Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov

We must all live so that our children do not have to pay for our deeds. Andrejs Upits

Tyranny and despotism can be exercised by many, more rigourously, more vigourously, and more severely, than by one. Andrew Johnson

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. Aristotle

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

The progress of democracy seems irresistible, because it is the most uniform, the most ancient, and the most permanent tendency which is to be found in history. Alexis de Tocqueville

Nothing will ruin the country if the people themselves will undertake its safety; and nothing can save it if they leave that safety in any hands but their own. Daniel Webster

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

The great thing about democracy is that it gives every voter a chance to do something stupid. Art Spander

The wild, cruel beast is not behind the bars of the cage. He is in front of it. Axel Munthe

Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual) Ayn Rand

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. Barbara Ehrenreich

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote! Benjamin Franklin

They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety. Benjamin Franklin

Vote for the man who promises least; he'll be the least disappointing. Bernard Baruch

Those against politics are in favor of the politics inflicted upon them. Bertolt Brecht

A democrat need not believe that the majority will always reach a wise decision. He should however believe in the necessity of accepting the decision of the majority, be it wise or unwise, until such a time that the majority reaches another decision.Bertrand Russell

A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote in a national election.
Bill Vaughan

Those wanting to improve democracy in their countries should not wait for permission.
Bulent Ecevit

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

Those who suppress freedom always do so in the name of law and order.
John V. Lindsay

Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning.
Frederick Douglass

Democracy means decision by those concerned.
Carl-Friedrich von Weizsaecker

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.
Abraham Lincoln

In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.
Charles de Gaulle

Since a politician never believes what he says, he is surprised when others believe him.
Charles DeGaulle

Restrictions of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.
William O. Douglas

In a democracy everybody has a right to be represented, including the jerks. Chris Patten

He who strikes terror into others is himself in continual fear. Claudian

Democracy means government by discussion, but it is only effective if you can stop people talking. Clement Atlee

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty.
Abraham Lincoln

The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people. This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.
John Adams

Tyrants have not yet discovered any chains that can fetter the mind.Charles Caleb Colton (c.1780-1832)

Democracy: In which you say what you like and do what you're told. Dave Barry

A government can be no better than the public opinion which sustains it. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

In a democracy both deep reverence and a sense of the comic are requisite. Carl Sandburg

Knowledge and goodness – these make degrees in heaven, and they must be the graduating scale of a true democracy.
Catherine Maria Sedgwick

All the ills of democracy can be cured by more democracy.” Alfred Emanuel Smith

It is far more honest to be undeservedly ignored than to be honoured without merit. Denis Fonvizin

The more developed a nation is, the more complete is the independence of the individual, and the safer the individual from encroachments by another.
Dmitry Pisarev

So easily do weak men put in high positions turn villains. Dmitry Pisarev

Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage. Dwight D. Eisenhower

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

Freedom without obligation is anarchy. Freedom with obligation is democracy. Earl Riney

Laws, like houses, lean on one another. Edmund Burke

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion. Edmund Burke

General rebellions and revolts of a whole people never were encouraged now or at any time. They are always provoked.
Edmuns Burke

The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy; the best weapon of a democracy is openness.
Edvard Teller

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.
Edward Abbey

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. Elie Wiesel

Only the educated are free. Epictetus

He who allows oppression, shares the crime.

Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin

Fifty-one percent of a nation can establish a totalitarian regime, suppress minorities and still remain democratic.
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

As long as the differences and diversities of mankind exist, democracy must allow for compromise, for accommodation, and for the recognition of differences. Eugene McCarthy

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

Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How's that again? I missed something.
Excerpt from the notebooks of Lazarus Long, from Robert Heinlein's "Time Enough for Love"

Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one's government is not necessarily to secure freedom. F.A. Hayek

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. Federalist Papers

It's dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them. Frederick Douglass

The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
Frederick Douglass

Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning.
Frederick Douglass

Arbitrary rule has its basis, not in the strength of the state or the chief, but in the moral weakness of the individual, who submits almost without resistance to the domineering power. Friedrich Hatzel

Democratic institutions form a system of quarantine for tyrannical desires.
Friedrich Nietzsche

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

In free countries, every man is entitled to express his opinions and every other man is entitled not to listen.
G. Norman Collie

Only the person who does not evade conflict and directs his efforts in keeping with the course of society's development can be an effective leader.
G. V. Plekhanov

Politics needs a flexible mind, for it has no immutable or eternal rules. In politics immutable or eternal rules lead to inevitable and swift defeat.
G. V. Plekhanov

Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.
Galbraith's Law

My notion of democracy is that under it the weakest shall have the same opportunities as the strongest.

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

Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.
George Bernard Shaw

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. George Bernard Shaw

Democracy: The substitution of election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.
George Jean Nathan

One sharp, stern struggle, and the slaves of centuries are free.
George Massey

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. George Washington

It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people. Giordano Bruno

A pedestal is as much a prison as any small space.
Gloria Steinem

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
Groucho Marx

The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.
Gunther Grass

A constitutional state is like daily bread, like water to drink and air to breath, and the best thing about democracy is that it is the only system capable of securing the constitutional state. Gustav Radbruch

The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletarian to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeois.
Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)

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