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Society is like a stew. If you donít keep it stirred up, you get a lot of scum on top.
Not to engage in this pursuit of ideas is to live like ants instead of like men.
Democracy means government by discussion, but it is only effective if you can stop people talking.
Bacon, Sir Francis
Men on their side must force themselves for a while to lay their notions by and begin to familiarize themselves with facts.
The real value of freedom is not to the minority that wants to talk, but to the majority that does not want to listen.
If we [legislators] don't watch our respective tails, the people are going to be running the government.
Aug. 25, 1998 - quoted in the
Los Angeles Times
commenting on California's citizens' initiatives
It should be noted that two points recur in any survey. The majority of Canadians always want lower taxes, and conversely, more and better services.
Canadian by Conviction
, Brune and Bulgutch, Gage Educational Publishing Company
Diefenbaker, John George
Everyone is against me - except the people!
1963 - used often during the 1963 election campaign
Gairdner, William D.
Modern democratic theory [includes] the almost hysterically naive idea that from the pooled votes of more free citizens will arise more goodness and truth.
Dec. 01, 1998 - from "Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Romantic Roots of Modern Democracy", published on The Canadian Conservative Forum
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang
Oh how sweet it is to hear one's own convictions from another's lips.
The conception that government should be guided by majority opinion makes sense only if that opinion is independent of government. The ideal of democracy rests on the belief that the view which will direct government emerges from an independent and spontaneous process. It requires, therefore, the existence of a large sphere independent of majority control in which the opinions of the individuals are formed.
1944 - from
The Road to Serfdom
The evils of popular government appear greater than they are; there is compensation for them in the spirit and energy it awakens.
quoted in "Thoughts on the business of life",
magazine, Jun. 15, 1998
What luck for the rulers that men do not think.
When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.
Humphrey, Hubert H.
If there is dissatisfaction with the status quo, good. If there is ferment, so much the better. If there is restlessness, I am pleased. Then let there be ideas, and hard thought, and hard work.
I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions indeed generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, so as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.
Jan. 30, 1787 - from a letter to James Madison
Kennedy, John F.
I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.
Apr. 27, 1961 - from an address to American newspaper publishers in New York
Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.... A state in which an individual or a small group are able to dominate the wills of their fellows without check is a despotism, whether it is called monarchical or aristocratic or democratic.
1993 - from "Ten Conservative Principles", in the second chapter of
The Politics of Prudence
This is one of the paradoxes of the democratic movement - that it loves a crowd and fears the individuals who compose it - that the religion of humanity should have no faith in human beings.
The rule of 51 percent is a convenience... because we do not know any less troublesome method of obtaining a political decision. But it may easily become an absurd tyranny if we regard it worshipfully, as though it were more than a political device. We have lost all of its true meaning when we imagine the opinion of 51 percent is in some high fashion the true opinion of the whole 100 percent.
Popular government has not yet been proved to guarantee ... good government.
Excess generally causes reaction, and produces a change in the opposite direction, whether it be in the seasons, or in individuals, or in governments.
The extremes do not attract votes.
Jun. 26, 2001 - quoted in "PM's mentor laments Grit monopoly", published in the
Grassroots can grow through concrete.
attributed to Jim DePoe in Jim Warren's GovAccess e-newsletter
Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.
Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.
However combinations or associations of [factions] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government - destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.
Sep. 17, 1796 - warning about the growing power of political parties, from his farewell address