How many of us are waiting for the opportunity to do some great thing for the betterment of our community, forgetting that the solution of the problem requires only the active intelligent fulfillment of individual civic duty. The only things which are wrong about our Government are the things which are wrong with you and me. Democracy is never a thing done; it is and always will be a goal to be achieved. It means action, not passive acquiescence in things as they are; it requires alertness to duty, a dynamic faith, a willingness to give for the good of all. It can live only as a result of loyalty and devotion to its principles expressed by daily needs.
The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.
Freedom is a dreadful thing unless it goes hand in hand with responsibility. Democracy among men is a specter except when the hearts of men are mature.
The long fight to save wild beauty represents democracy at its best. It requires citizens to practice the hardest of virtues - self-restraint.
Intellectual and spiritual leaders hailed the cause of civil rights and gave little thought to where the civil disobedience road might end. But defiance of the law, even for the best reasons, opens a tiny hole in the dike and soon a trickle becomes a flood... And while no thinking person denies that social injustice exits, no thinking person can condone any group, for any reason, taking justice into his own hands. Once this is permitted, democracy dies; for democracy is sustained through one great premise: the premise that civil rights are balanced by civil responsibilities.
People do not understand liberty or majorities. The will of the majority is the will of a rabble. Democracy is leveling - this is inconsistent with true liberty.
(Congress is) functioning the way the Founding Fathers intended - not very well. They understood that if you move too quickly, our democracy will be less responsible to the majority.
The fundamental defect in the present state of democracy is the assumption that political and economic freedom can be achieved without first freeing the mind. Freedom of mind is not something that spontaneously happens. It is not achieved by mere absence of obvious restraints. It is a product of constant unremitting nurture of right habits of observation and reflection.
No attack on democracy can hide the fact that it can be replaced only by a system that substitutes coercion for persuasion; one that replaces the individual's choice with the choice of some ruler.
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.
The fundamental truth of democracy is that the real pleasures of life are increased by sharing them.
It was the scientists who first made true democracy possible, for not only did they lighten our daily tasks but they made the finest works of art and thought, whose enjoyment was until recently the privilege of the favored classes, accessible to all.
To regard teachers - in our entire educational system from the primary grades to the university - as priests of our democracy is therefore not to indulge in hyperbole. It is the special task of teachers to foster those habits of open-mindedness and critical inquiry which alone make for responsible citizens, who in turn, make possible an enlightened and effective public opinion.
Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood.
Of all obstacles to that complete democracy of which we dream, is there a greater than property?
A true democracy rests on the differences between its citizens, as individuals or as groups.
The test of democracy is freedom of criticism.
Democracy is not tolerance. Democracy is a prescribed way of life erected on the premise that all men are created equal.
I grew up with the idea that democracy is not something you believe in, or a place you hang your hat, but it’s something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles and falls apart.
The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.