We the People Quotes about government, democracy and citizens. Part 2

Civics and Constitution Projects - Go to Essays | Sen Byrd's speech | Go to Extras | Quotes | Quotes 2 | Quotes 3

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

"I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world. No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men."
- Woodrow Wilson

"How soon we forget history... Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence.
It is force. And, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
-George Washington

"If the America people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currencies, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their prosperity until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
- Thomas Jefferson

'You are a den of vipers, I intend to rout you out, and by the Eternal God I will rout you out. If the people only understood the rank injustice of our money and banking system, there would be a revolution before morning.'
-President Andrew Jackson

"I believe that if the people of this Nation fully understood what Congress has done to them in the last 49 years, they would move on Washington ; they would not wait for a election......It all adds up to a preconceived plan to destroy the economic and social independence of the United States"
-George W. Malon, U.S. Senator (Nevada) speaking before Congress in 1957.

In a comment made to a Columbia University class on Nov. 12, 1963, Ten days before his assassination, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy said:
"The high office of the President has been used to foment a plot to destroy America's freedom and before I leave office, I must inform the citizen of this plight."

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 (1880-1956)

''You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.'' Jeannette Rankin
"The first woman in the U.S. Congress, Jeannette Rankin, may have been its bravest member. ... Long before the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution (1920) which gave women all over the country the right to vote, in 1917 Montana had, in typical maverick fashion, elected as its congressional representative a woman named Jeannette Rankin. As the first woman in Congress, she was obviously under enormous pressure and scrutiny from the very moment she entered politics. But only six days after taking office, the first vote Ms. Rankin registered forced her to put her moral conscience and her political future in the balance, and to decide whether or not to declare war on Germany. When the voting roll was called, she broke a 140-year old convention in the House by not merely announcing "yes" or "no," but standing to address the legislative body saying, "I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war. I vote no."" By Aaron Parrett, from an issue of Flagpole, an Athens, GA alternative newsweekly.

"I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind." - Thomas Jefferson

"We are now forming a Republican form of government. Real Liberty is not found in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments. If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy, or some other form of dictatorship."
- Alexander Hamilton

"History teaches us not to hope on this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime, that longed-for tidal wave of justice rises up and hope and history rhyme." Seamus Heaney, The Cure at Troy

"Some men look at Constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them, like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in Government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead." -Thomas Jefferson

"A generation that acquires knowledge without ever understanding how that knowledge can benefit the community
is a generation that is not learning what it means to be citizens in a democracy."
- Elizabeth Hollander

“Democracy: A government of the masses. Authority derived through mass meeting or any form of ‘direct' expression. Results in mobocracy. Attitude towards laws is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether it is based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice or impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences. Results in demagogism, license, agitation, discontent, anarchy.”
- 1928 Army training manual

"Political debate is more interested in manipulating the truth, than finding the truth."
George Soros C-Span program on propoganda 11/7/07

"In politics, manipulating reality can take presidence over finding reality."
George Soros C-Span program on propoganda 11/7/07

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights
of the other forty-nine."
- Thomas Jefferson

"At no time, at no place, in solemn convention assembled, through no chosen agents, had the American people officially proclaimed the United States to be a democracy. The Constitution did not contain the word or any word lending countenance to it, except possibly the mention of ‘We the people,' in the preamble ... When the Constitution was framed, no respectable person called himself a democrat."
- Charles & Mary Beard

The greatest task of democracy, its ritual and feast - is choice.
H.G. Wells

"Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos."
- John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Freedom of press is limited to those who own one.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

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, are right. H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Of government, at least in democratic states, it may be said briefly that it is an agency engaged wholesale, and as a matter of solemn duty, in the performance of acts which all self-respecting individuals refrain from as a matter of common decency. H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be lead to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction in stolen goods.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Hanging one scoundrel, it appears, does not deter the next. Well, what of it? The first one is at least disposed of.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

It is the fundamental theory of all the more recent American law...that the average citizen is half-witted, and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or his own thoughts. H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office. H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker. H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Firmness in decision is often merely a form of stupidity. It indicates an inability to think the same thing out twice.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods. If such a board actually exists it operates precisely like the board of a corporation that is losing money.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

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 (1880-1956)

Wherever politics intrudes upon economic life, political success is readily attained by saying what people like to hear rather than what is demonstrably true. Instead of safeguarding truth and honesty, the state then tends to become a major source of insi
Hans F. Sennholz

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

Democracy cannot be forced upon a society, neither is it a gift that can be held forever. It has to be struggled hard for and defended everyday anew.
Heinz Galinski

Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
Helen Keller

The majority is never right. Never, I tell you! That's one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent man can help rebelling against. Who are the people that make up the biggest proportion of the population -- the intelligent ones or the fools? Henrik Ibsen

That government is best which governs least.
Henry David Thoreau

If...the machine of government...is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.
Henry David Thoreau

A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.
Henry de Jouvenel

It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own. Herbert Clark Hoover

Calm and order can be just as dangerous to democracy as uneasiness and disorder.
Hildegard Hamm-Bruecher

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

Complete equality isn't compatible with democracy, but it is a agreeable to tolitarianism.
After all the only way to ensure the equality of the slothful, the inept and the immoral is to suppress everyone else.
Iain Benson

Liberty is the possibility of doubting, the possibility of making a mistake, the possibility of searching and experimenting, the possibility of saying No to any authority - literary, artistic, philosophic, religious, social, and even political.
Ignazio Silone

Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions - it only guarantees equality of opportunity.
Irving Kristol

So many, though reluctant to admit it. Shun clever men, and rather suffer fools.
Ivan Krylov

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. W. Fulbright

Democracy without morality is impossible.
Jack Kemp

In a democracy the people get what the majority deserves.
James Davidson

Thinking of mass democracy as government controlled by its employees helps explain the difficulty of changing government policy.
James Davidson

The tendency of democracies is, in all things, to mediocrity, since the tastes, knowledge, and principles of the majority form the tribunal of appeal.
James Fenimore Cooper

It is the besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law.
This is the usual form in which the masses of men exhibit their tyranny.
James Fenimore Cooper

The disposition of all power is to abuses, nor does it at all mend the matter that its possessors are a majority.
James Fenimore Cooper

Democracies have been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property;
and in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death. James Madison

The ultimate authority ... resides in the people alone.
James Madison

The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.
James Madison

If we advert to the nature of republican government, we shall find that the censorial power is in the people over the government,
and not in the government over the people. James Madison

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

Those accept an obligation lightly who feel lightly about letting it drop.
Janis Rainis

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

Democracy means having the choice. Dictatorship means being given the choice.
Jeannine Luczak

The price of the democratic way of life is a growing appreciation of people's differences, not merely as tolerable,
but as the essence of a rich and rewarding human experience. Jerome Nathanson

In politics, an organized minority is a political majority.
Jesse Jackson

The voice of the majority is no proof of justice.
Johann von Schiller

Democracy does not race, it reaches the finish slowly but surely.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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

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

Any doctrine that weakens personal responsibility for judgment and for action helps create the attitudes that welcome and support the totalitarian state. John Dewey

Democracy evolves where freedom is able to determine its own policy.
John Dos Passos

Nor is the people's judgment always true: the most may err as grossly as the few.
John Dryden

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

Life in freedom is not easy, and democracy is not perfect.
John F. Kennedy

Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.
John Galbraith

Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory.
John Kenneth Galbraith

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is generally understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. John Maynard Keynes

Anarchy is the sure consequence of tyranny; for no power that is not limited by laws can ever be protected by them.
John Milton

Democracy encourages the majority to decide things about which the majority is ignorant.
John Simon

If mankind minus one were of one opinion, then mankind is no more justified in silencing the one than the one - if he had the power - would be justified in silencing mankind. John Stuart Mill

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

The well being of democracies regardless of their type and status is dependent on one small technical detail: The right to vote. Everything else is secondary. Jose Ortega y Gasset

Every nation has the government it deserves.
Joseph de Maistre

As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.
Josh Billings

No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.
Judge Gideon J. Tucker

I personally call the type of government which can be removed without violence 'democracy,' and the other, 'tyranny.'.
Karl Popper

It is wrong to ask who will rule. The ability to vote a bad government out of office is enough. That is democracy.
Karl Popper

We'd all like to vote for the best man but he's never a candidate.
Frank McKinney "Kin" Hubbard

Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong. ~
Richard Armour

People despise the lust for power that originates from a craving for homage and for the attributes of power.
Konstantin Ushinsky

Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame.
Laurence Peter

Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right.
Laurens van der Post


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Updated 7/2007 by Cynthia J. O'Hora