The essential ingredient of democracy is not doctrine but intelligence, not authority but reason, not cynicism but faith in men, faith in God. Our strength lies in the fearless pursuit of truth by the minds of men who are free.
No amount of charters, direct primaries, or short ballots will make a democracy out of an illiterate people.
Successful democratic politicians are insecure and intimidated men. They advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle, or otherwise manage to manipulate the demanding and threatening elements in their constituencies. The decisive consideration is not whether the proposition is good but whether it is popular -- not whether it will work well and prove itself but whether the active talking constituents like it immediately. Politicians rationalize this servitude by saying that in a democracy public men are the servants of the people.
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.
The love of democracy is that of equality.
The principle of democracy is corrupted not only when the spirit of equality is extinct, but likewise when they fall into a spirit of extreme equality, and when each citizen would fain to be upon a level with those whom he has chosen to command him. Then the people, incapable of bearing the very power they have delegated, want to manage everything themselves, to debate for the senate, to execute for the magistrate, and to decide for the judges.
I believe democracy to be of all forms of government the most natural and the most consonant with individual liberty. In it no one transfers his natural right so absolutely that he has no further voice in affairs, he only hands it over to the majority of a society, whereof he is a unit. Thus all men remain, as they were in the state of nature, equals.
A democracy can obtain truth only as the result of experience; and many nations may perish while they are awaiting the consequences of their errors.
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasure. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasure, with the result that a democracy collapses over loose fiscal policy.
The final test of democracy is its capacity to breed leaders.
The greatest challenge for democracy is to persuade people not to eat the seed corn of tomorrow's harvest.
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.
The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
Chairman Mao once said that political power comes from the barrel of a gun. He was only partly right: power that comes from the barrel of a gun can be effective only for a short time. In the end, people’s love for truth, justice, freedom, and democracy will triumph. No matter what governments do, the human spirit will always prevail.
The great fault of modern democracy - a fault that is common to the capitalist and the socialist - is that it accepts economic wealth as the end of society and the standard of personal happiness.
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.
No democracy is born perfect, and none ever gets to be perfect. Yet democracy is superior to authoritarian and totalitarian regimes because, unlike them, democracy is perfectible.
How are we to bring children to the spirit of citizenship and humanity which is postulated by democratic societies? By the actual practice of democracy at school. It is unbelievable that at a time when democratic ideas enter into every phase of life, they should have been so little utilized as instruments of education.
The foundation of democracy is the sense of spiritual independence which nerves the individual to stand alone against the powers of this world.
Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.