100+ Quotes about Democracy

Democracy quotes as a primer for a new breed of a political party:

.. grassroots democratic, yet efficient and effective
.. with safeguarded info and democratic processes and
.. a 1:1 transfer to parliament.

A Great Democracy

“A great democracy has got to be progressive or it will soon too cease to be great or a democracy.”

Theodore Roosevelt

“Democracy is always a work in progress, it’s never an absolute idea or it would otherwise be a totalitarian ideology just like the rest of them.”

José Mujica, President of Uruguay (2010-2015)

Direct Democracy and Co Determination

“The many are more incorruptible than the few; they are like the greater quantity of water which is less easily corrupted than a little.”

Aristotle

“There is no reason that bureaucrats and politicians, no matter how well meaning, are better at solving problems than the people on the spot, who have the strongest incentive to get the solution right.”

Elinor Ostrom, American Political Economist, Nobel Prize Winner

“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

“If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they are themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?”

Frédéric Bastiat, The Law

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

Clement Atlee, UK Prime Minister (1945-1951)

“The idea of democracy is if you have to live with the decisions, then you must be able to participate in making them.”

Prof. Richard Wolff

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

Abraham Lincoln

“Democracy is the art of thinking independently together.”

Alexander Meiklejohn, Philosopher

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

Unknown

New Political Models

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a better new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Buckminster Fuller

“We shouldn’t be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas.”

Noam Chomsky

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Albert Einstein

“I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or it they try, they will shortly be out of office.”

Milton Friedmann

“It is … far more important to resist apathy than anarchy or despotism for apathy can give rise, almost indifferently, to either one.”

Alexis De Tocqueville

“Do we want to keep handing out blank checks to politicians for 4 years?” 

Peter Monien, Upgrading Democracy: Claiming a Say to Achieve True Democracy

Deliberation, Finding the Way Together

“I never learned from a man who agreed with me.”

Robert A. Heinlein, Science Fiction Author

“A wise man never knows all, only the fools know everything.”

African Proverb

“He who dares not offend cannot be honest.”

Thomas Paine

“It is impossible to carry the torch of truth through a crowd without singeing someone’s beard.”

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Swiss Author and Journalist

“You’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.”

Michael Bloomberg

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

 Mark Twain

“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”

Malcolm X

Truth and Trust

“..the more you know, the less you trust, as the gap between reality and the authorities’ claims of competence becomes impossible to ignore.”

Martin Gurri, The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”

George Orwell

“Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

“When exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you are ruled by criminals.”

Anonymous

“It’s dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”

Voltaire

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

Aldous Huxley

“Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.”

Timothy Snyder, ON TYRANNY: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

“Don’t just teach you children to read … teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything.”

George Carlin, US Comedian

“So, if we lie to the government it’s a felony. But if they lie to us its politics.”

Bill Murray, US Actor

“The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.”

Maximilien Robespierre

A Call to Action

“We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.”

Buckminster Fuller

“We Have to Fix Our Democracy Before We Lose It.”

America Ferrera, US Actress

“If revolution there is to be, let us rather undertake it not undergo it. Society will change either before or after the revolution. I choose before.”

Otto von Bismarck, German Chancellor

“First question is: As individuals what can we do? – the answer is: practically nothing! What could be done and always has been done in history is by people who are organized. The labor movement, women’s movement, anti-war movement, environmental movement. These can do things. And that’s one of the reasons why powerful systems are so intent on atomizing people.”

Noam Chomsky

“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”

Socrates

“I’m tired of hearing it that democracy doesn’t work. Of course, it doesn’t work. We are supposed to work it.”

Alexander Woollcott, American Critic and Commentator

Propaganda and Media and Freedom of Expression

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

George Orwell

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

George Orwell

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

Noam Chomsky

“Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners.”

George Carlin, US Comedian

“Political correctness is a weapon used to silence people who tell the truth.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Islam Critic

“The Media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

Malcolm X

“We should not underestimate the capacity of well-run propaganda systems to drive people to irrational, murderous, and suicidal behavior.”

Noam Chomsky

“Listen for dangerous words. Be alert to the use of the words extremism and terrorism. Be alive to the fatal notions of emergency and exception. Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.”

Timothy Snyder, ON TYRANNY: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

“If you are afraid to say something on the internet because you fear your government then you may need a new government.”

Michael S. King

“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.”

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

“If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise we do not believe in it at all.”

Noam Chomsky

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

George Orwell

“Some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.”

Sir Winston Churchill

“You may not want to hear this, but oppression isn’t hearing a word that offends you. oppression is being told you can’t say certain words because you’ll offend someone else.”

-Unknown

“Overall, there are no indications that financially strong circles have been able to manipulate the people in such a way that they managed to pass laws whose results were rejected by the majority of the people. Business associations therefore usually prefer lobbying in parliaments. Here the influence is more effective, cheaper and more independent of public opinion.”

Professor Hermann Heußner

Divide and Conquer

“By dividing the voter through the political party system, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting for questions of no importance.”

-Montagu Norman, Governor of The Bank of England

Institutions and Control

“Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”

Mark Twain

“Defend institutions. It is institutions that help us to preserve decency. They need our help as well. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you make them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions do not protect themselves. They fall one after the other unless each is defended from the beginning. So choose an institution you care about—a court, a newspaper, a law, a labor union—and take its side.”

-Timothy Snyder, ON TYRANNY: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

US Politics

“When you have a duopoly, there is no incentive to work together to create something better… We’re incentivized for more extreme candidates, for more extreme partisanship, for more conflict and permanent campaigning.”

Jon Stewart

The two parties continue to go at each other in the conviction that winning political advantage for the tribe is more important than improving living conditions for all.”

Peter Hartcher, Author and Journalist

“Our politics is in a partisan death spiral.”

Justin Amash, US Michigan representative

“Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.”

George Carlin, US Comedian

“Many Americans voting for outsider candidates believe that government pretty much ignores people like them. We think they’re right.”

Washington Post

EU Politics

“We decide on something, leave it lying around and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don’t understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back.“

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission (2014-2019)

Science

“Science, the partisan of no country, but the beneficent patroness of all, has liberally opened a temple where all may meet. … The philosopher of one country sees not an enemy in the philosopher of another: he takes his seat in the temple of science and asks not who sits beside him.”

Thomas Paine

“Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.”

Stephen Hawking

“Once, men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.”

Frank Herbert, Science Fiction Author

“If we are to bring the broad masses of the people in every land to the table of abundance, it can only be by the tireless improvement of all our means of technical production.“

Winston Churchill

“The scientific method is a method. It’s a process of discovery. If you don’t trust scientists because they can say one thing, then another, please consider how important it is to be able to change your mind based on new information. Refusing to accept new info isn’t a good thing.”

Scott Santens, Basic Income Advocate 

“We are 21st century citizens doing our very best to interact with 19th century designed institutions built with an information technology of the 15th century.”

Pia Mancini, Co-Founder Open Collective and Democracy Earth, TED Speaker

Freedom and Liberty

“Any society that will give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

Benjamin Franklin

“People who assure you that you can only gain security at the price of liberty usually want to deny you both.”

Timothy Snyder, ON TYRANNY: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

“Freedom wears off if you don’t use it.”

Reinhard Mey, German Singer

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day, or it is rotten.”

Wendell Phillips, US Politician

Political Rules to Remember

“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 other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

Winston Churchill

“If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu.”

Elizabeth Warren, US Senator

“Segregation was legal. Slavery was legal. War is legal. Never use legality as a guide to morality.”

Unknown

“Three groups spend other people’s money: children, thieves and politicians. All three need supervision.”

Dick Armey, US Politician

“One off the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

Milton Friedmann

“There’s no such thing as ‘government-funded’. It’s all ‘taxpayer-funded’.”

Unknown

“Nearly all men stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Abraham Lincoln

“It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting.”

Tom Stoppard, British Playwright and Screenwriter

“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”

Thomas Jefferson

Bitter Truth

“Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.”

George Bernard Shaw

“Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike the least.”

Robert Byrne, US Chess Player

“If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.”

Mark Twain

“As it stands, democracy requires largely disinterested, busy and sometimes uninformed people, to vote for conflicted, corruptible and often unqualified strangers.”

Tony Bracks, Solving for Democracy

“Politics is the rare sport where the amateur is better than the professional.”

 Lawrence Lessig, US Law Professor

Other Quotes

“When the people fear the government, we have TYRANNY. When the government fears the people, you have LIBERTY.”

Thomas Jefferson

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”

Thomas Sowell, American Economist and Social Theorist 

“A basic principle of modern state capitalism is that costs and risks are socialized to the extent possible, while profit is privatized.”

Noam Chomsky

“In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith.”

J. William Fulbright

“Populism is not a philosophy or a concept, like socialism or capitalism, for example. Rather it is a cry of pain, where people are saying: Do something: help!”

Alan Greenspan

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.”

Benjamin Franklin

“You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”

Malcolm X

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