"The County Election" by George Caleb Bingham (1852)
The Neighborhood will be on a brief hiatus as I will be consulting with the Associated Press on elections results from Election Day. It’ll be a long night, and Mr. D needs his beauty rest.
Yet before I retire, it is important to stress, even if the kids aren’t there tomorrow, the importance of Election Day. Our representative democracy works on only one principle: the people are the ultimate power. The only way people can exercise that power fully is by voting for their respective political leaders.
Regardless of your political affiliaton, make sure you get out and vote tomorrow. Take your time. Study the candidates and issues. But most importantly, make a decision. The engine of government cannot run without our say-so.
To fill the mind and provide discussion, here are various quotes about elections and democracy: some in praise, many in scorn, yet still others with a keen eye on what is necessary for a lasting democratic society.
“The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.” – Lord Acton
“The 20th century has been characterized by four developments of great importance: the growth of political democracy, the growth of Online Democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting
corporate power against democracy.” – Alex Care
“One does not export democracy in an armored vehicle.” – Jacques Chirac
“All deductions having been made, democracy has done less harm, and more good, than any other form of government. It gave to human existence a zest and camaraderie that outweighed its pitfalls and defects. It gave to thought and science and enterprise the freedom essential to their operation and growth. It broke down the walls of privilege and class, and in each generation it raised up ability from every rank and place.” – Will Durant
“When people put their ballots in the boxes, they are, by that act, inoculated against the feeling that the government is not theirs. They then accept, in some measure, that its errors are their errors, its aberrations their aberrations, that any revolt will be against them. It’s a remarkably shrewd and rather conservative arrangement when one thinks of it.” – John Kenneth Galbraith
“It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good
feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.” – Alexander Hamilton
“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.” – Oscar Wilde
“Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” – H.L. Mencken
“I confess I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing.” – H. L. Mencken
“Imagine if all of life were determined by majority rule. Every meal would be a pizza. Every pair of pants, even those in a Brooks Brothers suit, would be stone-washed denim. Celebrity diet and exercise books would be the only thing on the shelves at the library. And —
since women are a majority of the population — we’d all be married to Mel Gibson.” – P.J. O’Rourke
“Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.” – Gore Vidal
“Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right?” – Robert Orben
“Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody.” – Franklin Adams
“Elections should be held on April 16th-the day after we pay our income taxes. That is one of the few things that might discourage politicians from being big spenders.” – Thomas Sowell
“No part of the education of a politician is more indispensable than the fighting of elections.” – Winston
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” – Winston Churchill
“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” – Winston Churchill
“Democracy is the process by which people choose the man who’ll get the blame.” – Bertrand Russell
“You can never have a revolution in order to establish a democracy. You must have a democracy in order to have a revolution.” – G. K. Chesterton
“Education and democracy have the same goal: the fullest possible development of human capabilities.” – Paul Wellstone
“Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.” – Alexis de Tocqueville
“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
…and the last word goes to the honest one himself. We need his words now more than ever.
“You may fool all the people some of the time; you may fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.” – Abraham Lincoln
Democracy Distilled – an Infographic on Voting Rights produced by eLocal
Source: Democracy DistilledbyeLocalLawyers.com
In honor of Inauguration Day, as well as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the folks at eLocal produced an interesting, evocative Infographic video about the history of voting rights in this country. It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when even white men were restricted from the ballot box–the ones who were poor, that is. The video follows how far we have come in the 237 years since independence, showing progress by state and demographic group.
This is a great resource for the classroom to show the big picture of American democracy, and to discuss where we need to go in the future.
Enjoy, and make sure to watch the Inauguration on Monday…even if you voted for the other guy. The process of government is what makes us great, not the people in it.
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