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."
"How soon we forget history... Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence.
"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."
'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.'
"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"
In a comment made to a Columbia University class on Nov. 12, 1963, Ten days before his assassination, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy said:
Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies
to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule
''You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.'' Jeannette Rankin
"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."
"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
“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.”
"Political debate is more interested in manipulating the truth, than finding the truth."
"In politics, manipulating reality can take presidence over finding reality."
"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights
"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."
The greatest task of democracy, its ritual and feast -
"Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos."
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what
they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey
Freedom of press is limited to those who own one.
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)
Government is a broker in pillage, and every election
is a sort of advance auction in stolen goods.
Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom
of individual ignorance.
Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must
always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them.
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.
Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice.
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.
Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and
free than Christianity has made them good.
Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends.
Firmness in decision is often merely a form of stupidity.
It indicates an inability to think the same thing out twice.
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.
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
Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are
extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A society of sheep must in time beget a government of
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.
The right to be heard does not automatically include the
right to be taken seriously.
Complete equality isn't compatible with democracy, but
it is a agreeable to tolitarianism.
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.
Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions -
it only guarantees equality of opportunity.
So many, though reluctant to admit it. Shun clever men,
and rather suffer fools.
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.
Democracy without morality is impossible.
In a democracy the people get what the majority deserves.
Thinking of mass democracy as government controlled by
its employees helps explain the difficulty of changing government policy.
The tendency of democracies is, in all things, to mediocrity,
since the tastes, knowledge, and principles of the majority form the tribunal
It is the besetting vice of democracies to substitute
public opinion for law.
The disposition of all power is to abuses, nor does it
at all mend the matter that its possessors are a majority.
Democracies have been found incompatible with personal
security or the rights of property;
The ultimate authority ... resides in the people alone.
The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only
guardian of true liberty.
If we advert to the nature of republican government, we
shall find that the censorial power is in the people over the government,
Democracy is the form of government that gives every man
the right to be his own oppressor.
Those accept an obligation lightly who feel lightly about
letting it drop.
Democracy is good. I say this because other systems are
Democracy means having the choice. Dictatorship means
being given the choice.
The price of the democratic way of life is a growing appreciation
of people's differences, not merely as tolerable,
In politics, an organized minority is a political majority.
The voice of the majority is no proof of justice.
Democracy does not race, it reaches the finish slowly
Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes,
exhausts, and murders itself.
A free government is a complicated piece of machinery,
the nice and exact adjustment of whose springs, wheels, and weights,
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
Nor is the people's judgment always true: the most may
err as grossly as the few.
Those who make peaceful change impossible will make violent
Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous
and the unpalatable.
Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory.
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
Anarchy is the sure consequence of tyranny; for no power
that is not limited by laws can ever be protected by them.
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.
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.
As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess
of the demand.
No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the
legislature is in session.
I personally call the type of government which can be
removed without violence 'democracy,' and the other, 'tyranny.'.
It is wrong to ask who will rule. The ability to vote
a bad government out of office is enough. That is democracy.
We'd all like to vote for the best man but he's never
Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long,
has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong. ~
People despise the lust for power that originates from
a craving for homage and for the attributes of power.
Democracy is a process by which the people are free to
choose the man who will get the blame.
Updated 7/2007 by Cynthia J. O'Hora