Democratic Quotes

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And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles. So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (A Man Without a Country)
Art never responds to the wish to make it democratic; it is not for everybody; it is only for those who are willing to undergo the effort needed to understand it.
Flannery O'Connor (Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose)
Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the democrats believe every day is April 15.
Ronald Reagan
If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal", then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal.
John F. Kennedy (Profiles in Courage)
The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Extremes to the right and to the left of any political dispute are always wrong.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
I believe in a relatively equal society, supported by institutions that limit extremes of wealth and poverty. I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I’m proud of it.
Paul Krugman
Being democratic is not enough, a majority cannot turn what is wrong into right. In order to be considered truly free, countries must also have a deep love of liberty and an abiding respect for the rule of law.
Margaret Thatcher
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
John F. Kennedy
During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
Nelson Mandela
Tomorrow you're all going to wake up in a brave new world, a world where the Constitution gets trampled by an army of terrorist clones, created in a stem-cell research lab run by homosexual doctors who sterilize their instruments over burning American flags. Where tax-and-spend Democrats take all your hard-earned money and use it to buy electric cars for National Public Radio, and teach evolution to illegal immigrants. Oh, and everybody's high!
Stephen Colbert (I Am America (And So Can You!))
The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.
Oscar Levant
A public library is the most democratic thing in the world. What can be found there has undone dictators and tyrants: demagogues can persecute writers and tell them what to write as much as they like, but they cannot vanish what has been written in the past, though they try often enough...People who love literature have at least part of their minds immune from indoctrination. If you read, you can learn to think for yourself.
Doris Lessing
I've never been able to understand why a Republican contributor is a 'fat cat' and a Democratic contributor of the same amount of money is a 'public-spirited philanthropist'.
Ronald Reagan
When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, it becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues.
Thomas L. Friedman
Some are whigs, liberals, democrats, call them what you please. Others are tories, serviles, aristocrats, &c. The latter fear the people, and wish to transfer all power to the higher classes of society; the former consider the people as the safest depository of power in the last resort; they cherish them therefore, and wish to leave in them all the powers to the exercise of which they are competent.
Thomas Jefferson (Letters of Thomas Jefferson)
Guns are our friends because in a country without guns, I'm what's known as "prey." All females are.
Ann Coulter (If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans)
Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
Robert A. Heinlein
Politically, Republicans and Democrats are at opposite ends. One’s a burp and the other’s a fart.
Jarod Kintz (If you bring the booze and food, I'll bring the thirst and hunger)
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.
Edward L. Bernays (Propaganda)
We cannot have a world where everyone is a victim. "I'm this way because my father made me this way. I'm this way because my husband made me this way." Yes, we are indeed formed by traumas that happen to us. But then you must take charge, you must take over, you are responsible.
Camille Paglia
Every election is determined by the people who show up.
Larry J. Sabato (Pendulum Swing)
A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy.
Aldous Huxley (Ends and Means)
The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it.
P.J. O'Rourke (Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government)
Art is the great democrat, calling forth creative genius from every sector of society, disregarding race or religion or wealth or color
John F. Kennedy
If one cannot learn from the mistakes of others, one might as well become a Democrat.
Esther M. Friesner (My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding)
Books, purchasable at low cost, permit us to interrogate the past with high accuracy; to tap the wisdom of our species; to understand the point of view of others, and not just those in power; to contemplate--with the best teachers--the insights, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, drawn from the entire planet and from all of our history. They allow people long dead to talk inside our heads. Books can accompany us everywhere. Books are patient where we are slow to understand, allow us to go over the hard parts as many times as we wish, and are never critical of our lapses. Books are key to understanding the world and participating in a democratic society.
Carl Sagan (The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark)
All people are born alike... except Republicans and Democrats.
Groucho Marx
And when I speak, I don't speak as a Democrat. Or a Republican. Nor an American. I speak as a victim of America's so-called democracy. You and I have never seen democracy - all we've seen is hypocrisy. When we open our eyes today and look around America, we see America not through the eyes of someone who has enjoyed the fruits of Americanism. We see America through the eyes of someone who has been the victim of Americanism. We don't see any American dream. We've experienced only the American nightmare.
Malcolm X
We had a choice between Democrats who couldn't learn from the past and Republicans who couldn't stop living in it...
P.J. O'Rourke
A republican stands up in congress and says 'I GOT A REALLY BAD IDEA!!' and the democrat stands up after him and says 'AND I CAN MAKE IT SHITTIER!!
Lewis Black
The Marxians love of democratic institutions was a stratagem only, a pious fraud for the deception of the masses. Within a socialist community there is no room left for freedom.
Ludwig von Mises
Those who don't build must burn.
Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)
My hobbies include rubbing my nipples across a cheese grater, meeting cat ladies on Tinder, and voting for either Democrat or Republican every four years. You could say I am a torture enthusiast.
Jarod Kintz (This Book is Not for Sale)
The Democratic Party supports criminals and Islamic terrorists but has no sympathy for taxpayers.
Ann Coulter (If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans)
There’s no democratic state that’s not compromised to the very core by its part in generating human misery.
Gilles Deleuze
There are two things which a democratic people will always find very difficult - to begin a war and to end it.
Alexis de Tocqueville
Republicans go to Sam's Club, Democrats go to Costco.
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
And when the Patrician was unhappy, he became very democratic. He found intricate and painful ways of spreading that unhappiness as far as possible.
Terry Pratchett (Guards! Guards! (Discworld, #8; City Watch #1))
Democrats and Republicans were essentially the same party with different faces and that was why, no matter how many promises each leader made, significant change rarely transpired.
James Morcan (The Ninth Orphan (The Orphan Trilogy, #1))
I'm a Christian first, and a mean-spirited, bigoted conservative second, and don't you ever forget it. You know who else was kind of "divisive" in terms of challenging the status quo and the powers-that-be of his day? Jesus Christ.
Ann Coulter (If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans)
Mrs. Cole was a perfect democrat. She hated all kids equally.
Stephen King (It)
There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat.
Gore Vidal
The essence of Christianity is told us in the Garden of Eden history. The fruit that was forbidden was on the tree of knowledge. The subtext is, 'All the suffering you have is because you wanted to find out what was going on. You could be in the Garden of Eden if you had just kept your fucking mouth shut and hadn't asked any questions.
Frank Zappa
Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right.... Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.
Kofi Annan
Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.
Claudia Alta Johnson
In the US, there is basically one party - the business party. It has two factions, called Democrats and Republicans, which are somewhat different but carry out variations on the same policies. By and large, I am opposed to these policies. As is most of the population.
Noam Chomsky
I'm all in favor of the democratic principle that one idiot is as good as one genius, but I draw the line when someone takes the next step and concludes that two idiots are better than one genius.
Leo Szilard
Let people realize clearly that every time they threaten someone or humiliate or unnecessarily hurt or dominate or reject another human being, they become forces for the creation of psychopathology, even if these be small forces. Let them recognize that every person who is kind, helpful, decent, psychologically democratic, affectionate, and warm, is a psychotheraputic force, even though a small one.
Abraham H. Maslow
from Bill Clinton speech- People are more impressed by the power of our example rather than the example of our power...
Bill Clinton
The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism -- ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.... Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
I am, at the Fed level, libertarian; at the state level, Republican; at the local level, Democrat; and at the family and friends level, a socialist. If that saying doesn’t convince you of the fatuousness of left vs. right labels, nothing will.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Skin in the game)
So, is there hope for a truly democratic Africa? Long answer: Only if continent-wide improvements in education, human rights and public health are coupled with an aggressive and far-sighted debt-relief program that breaks the cycle of subsistence farming and urban squalor. Short answer: No.
Jon Stewart (America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction)
On Writing: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays 1. A beginning ends what an end begins. 2. The despair of the blank page: it is so full. 3. In the head Art’s not democratic. I wait a long time to be a writer good enough even for myself. 4. The best time is stolen time. 5. All work is the avoidance of harder work. 6. When I am trying to write I turn on music so I can hear what is keeping me from hearing. 7. I envy music for being beyond words. But then, every word is beyond music. 8. Why would we write if we’d already heard what we wanted to hear? 9. The poem in the quarterly is sure to fail within two lines: flaccid, rhythmless, hopelessly dutiful. But I read poets from strange languages with freedom and pleasure because I can believe in all that has been lost in translation. Though all works, all acts, all languages are already translation. 10. Writer: how books read each other. 11. Idolaters of the great need to believe that what they love cannot fail them, adorers of camp, kitsch, trash that they cannot fail what they love. 12. If I didn’t spend so much time writing, I’d know a lot more. But I wouldn’t know anything. 13. If you’re Larkin or Bishop, one book a decade is enough. If you’re not? More than enough. 14. Writing is like washing windows in the sun. With every attempt to perfect clarity you make a new smear. 15. There are silences harder to take back than words. 16. Opacity gives way. Transparency is the mystery. 17. I need a much greater vocabulary to talk to you than to talk to myself. 18. Only half of writing is saying what you mean. The other half is preventing people from reading what they expected you to mean. 19. Believe stupid praise, deserve stupid criticism. 20. Writing a book is like doing a huge jigsaw puzzle, unendurably slow at first, almost self-propelled at the end. Actually, it’s more like doing a puzzle from a box in which several puzzles have been mixed. Starting out, you can’t tell whether a piece belongs to the puzzle at hand, or one you’ve already done, or will do in ten years, or will never do. 21. Minds go from intuition to articulation to self-defense, which is what they die of. 22. The dead are still writing. Every morning, somewhere, is a line, a passage, a whole book you are sure wasn’t there yesterday. 23. To feel an end is to discover that there had been a beginning. A parenthesis closes that we hadn’t realized was open). 24. There, all along, was what you wanted to say. But this is not what you wanted, is it, to have said it?
James Richardson
When the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of output and income, as it did in the nineteenth century and seems quite likely to do again in the twenty-first, capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based.
Thomas Piketty (Capital in the Twenty-First Century)
I am not a member of any organized political party — I am a Democrat.
Will Rogers
Punishment is now unfashionable... because it creates moral distinctions among men, which, to the democratic mind, are odious. We prefer a meaningless collective guilt to a meaningful individual responsibility.
Thomas Szasz
The Democrats seem to be basically nicer people, but they have demonstrated time and again that they have the management skills of celery. They're the kind of people who'd stop to help you change a flat, but would somehow manage to set your car on fire. I would be reluctant to entrust them with a Cuisinart, let alone the economy. The Republicans, on the other hand, would know how to fix your tire, but they wouldn't bother to stop because they'd want to be on time for Ugly Pants Night at the country club
Dave Barry (Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States)
There is something reassuring about the toilets. Bodily functions at least remain democratic. Everybody shits.
Margaret Atwood
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Hamas is regularly described as 'Iranian-backed Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.' One will be hard put to find something like 'democratically elected Hamas, which has long been calling for a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus'—blocked for over 30 years by the US and Israel. All true, but not a useful contribution to the Party Line, hence dispensable.
Noam Chomsky (Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel's War Against the Palestinians)
One of the great tragedies of life is that men seldom bridge the gulf between practice and profession, between doing and saying. A persistent schizophrenia leaves so many of us tragically divided against ourselves. On the one hand, we proudly profess certain sublime and noble principles, but on the other hand, we sadly practise the very antithesis of these principles. How often are our lives characterised by a high blood pressure of creeds and an anaemia of deeds! We talk eloquently about our commitment to the principles of Christianity, and yet our lives are saturated with the practices of paganism. We proclaim our devotion to democracy, but we sadly practise the very opposite of the democratic creed. We talk passionately about peace, and at the same time we assiduously prepare for war. We make our fervent pleas for the high road of justice, and then we tread unflinchingly the low road of injustice. This strange dichotomy, this agonising gulf between the ought and the is, represents the tragic theme of man's earthly pilgrimage.
Martin Luther King Jr. (Strength to Love)
No class or group or party in Germany could escape its share of responsibility for the abandonment of the democratic Republic and the advent of Adolf Hitler. The cardinal error of the Germans who opposed Nazism was their failure to unite against it.
William L. Shirer (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany)
It's not that the Democrats are playing checkers and the Republicans are playing chess. It's that the Republicans are playing chess and the Democrats are in the nurse's office because once again they glued their balls to their thighs.
Jon Stewart (America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction)
This massive ascendancy of corporate power over democratic process is probably the most ominous development since the end of World War II, and for the most part "the free world" seems to be regarding it as merely normal.
Wendell Berry (Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food)
If there were a nation of Gods, it would govern itself democratically. A government so perfect is not suited to men.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract)
Democracy is not simply a license to indulge individual whims and proclivities. It is also holding oneself accountable to some reasonable degree for the conditions of peace and chaos that impact the lives of those who inhabit one’s beloved extended community.
Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays)
Human beings act in a great variety of irrational ways, but all of them seem to be capable, if given a fair chance, of making a reasonable choice in the light of available evidence. Democratic institutions can be made to work only if all concerned do their best to impart knowledge and to encourage rationality. But today, in the world's most powerful democracy, the politicians and the propagandists prefer to make nonsense of democratic procedures by appealing almost exclusively to the ignorance and irrationality of the electors.
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World Revisited)
people seem to be getting dumber and dumber. You know, I mean we have all this amazing technology and yet computers have turned into basically four figure wank machines. The internet was supposed to set us free, democratize us, but all it's really given us is Howard Dean's aborted candidacy and 24 hour a day access to kiddie porn. People... they don't write anymore, they blog. Instead of talking, they text, no punctuation, no grammar: LOL this and LMFAO that. You know, it just seems to me it's just a bunch of stupid people pseudo-communicating with a bunch of other stupid people at a proto-language that resembles more what cavemen used to speak than the King's English.
Hank Moody
I didn’t leave the Democratic party, the Democratic Party left me.
Ronald Reagan
When conservative judges strike down laws, it's because of what's in the Constitution. When liberal judges strike down laws (or impose new laws), it's because of what's in the New York Times
Ann Coulter (If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans)
I’m “exceptional”- a democratic term used to avoid the damning labels of “gifted” and “deprived” (which used to mean “bright” and “retarded”) and as soon as “exceptional” begins to mean anything to anyone they’ll change it. The idea seems to be: use an expression as long as it doesn’t mean anything to anybody. “Exceptional” refers to both ends of the spectrum, so all my life I’ve been exceptional.
Daniel Keyes (Flowers for Algernon)
I don’t think God has a gender. I don’t think God hates gays or Democrats, and I don’t think you have to be Born Again to find your way to Heaven. I believe God expects us to care for one another, even those who are different. God wants us to be good stewards of this planet, and that means not wasting or violating its resources. Most of all, it means not blowing it up. Especially not in God’s name.
Ellen Hopkins
4. Knowledge is the most democratic source of power.
Alvin Toffler
The marriage institution cannot exist among slaves, and one sixth of the population of democratic America is denied it's privileges by the law of the land. What is to be thought of a nation boasting of its liberty, boasting of it's humanity, boasting of its Christianity, boasting of its love of justice and purity, and yet having within its own borders three millions of persons denied by law the right of marriage?
Frederick Douglass (My Bondage and My Freedom)
Now I am just an elderly lady who is full of spleen, who humps around greater Boston in a God-awful hat, who never lived and yet outlived her time, hating men and dogs and Democrats.
Anne Sexton
The surface of American society is covered with a layer of democratic paint, but from time to time one can see the old aristocratic colours breaking through.
Alexis de Tocqueville
Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, I think everybody can agree that politicians are crooks. But I don’t think politicians are thieves, because you can’t steal what you’ve been given. Once we stop giving in, they’ll stop taking.

Jarod Kintz (Who Moved My Choose?: An Amazing Way to Deal With Change by Deciding to Let Indecision Into Your Life)
We now have the liberal playbook and we know what they are doing, and we are using it against them. Unlike the Democrats though, we aren't out to destroy our society, we are out to save it.
Mark R. Levin
Where utopianism is advanced through gradualism rather than revolution, albeit steady and persistent as in democratic societies, it can deceive and disarm an unsuspecting population, which is largely content and passive. It is sold as reforming and improving the existing society's imperfections and weaknesses without imperiling its basic nature. Under these conditions, it is mostly ignored, dismissed, or tolerated by much of the citizenry and celebrated by some. Transformation is deemed innocuous, well-intentioned, and perhaps constructive but not a dangerous trespass on fundamental liberties.
Mark R. Levin (Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America)
The story of terrorism is written by the state and it is therefore highly instructive… compared with terrorism, everything else must be acceptable, or in any case more rational and democratic.
Guy Debord (The Society of the Spectacle)
When the voice of your friend or the page of your book sinks into democratic equality with the pattern of the wallpaper, the feel of your clothes, your memory of last night, and the noises from the road, you are falling asleep. The highly selective consciousness enjoyed by fully alert men, with all its builded sentiments and consecrated ideals, has as much to be called real as the drowsy chaos, and more.
C.S. Lewis
All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both. One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives. The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.
H.L. Mencken (A Mencken Chrestomathy)
When you wage war on the public schools, you're attacking the mortar that holds the community together. You're not a conservative, you're a vandal.
Garrison Keillor (Homegrown Democrat: A Few Plain Thoughts from the Heart of America)
Social media spark a revelation that we, the people, have a voice, and through the democratization of content and ideas we can once again unite around common passions, inspire movements, and ignite change.
Brian Solis (Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web)
If you want to live like a Republican, vote like a Democrat.
Bill Clinton (My Life)
The love of my life has made me the happiest man ever. This ever-smiling man/mannequin is so happy because he’s got no brain, and in this way is identical to anyone who still rah-rahs for either a Republican or a Democrat.
Jarod Kintz (This Book is Not for Sale)
Remember, the people who know me are the ones who are free to live and love without any agenda." "Is that what it means to be a Christian?" It sounded kind of stupid as Mack said it, but it was how he was trying to sum everything up in his mind. "Who said anything about being a Christian? I'm not a Christian." The idea struck Mack as odd and unexpected and he couldn't keep himself from grinning. "No, I suppose you aren't." They arrived at the door of the workshop. Again Jesus stopped. "Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslim, Democrats, Republicans, and many who don't vote or are not part of any Sunday morning religious institutions. I have followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous. Some were bankers and bookies, Americans and Iraquis, Jews and Palistinians. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved." "Does that mean," asked Mack, "that all roads will lead to you?" "Not at all," smiled Jesus as he reached for the door handle to the shop. "Most roads don't lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.
William Paul Young (The Shack)
These same people who tell us we must defend the lives of the unborn-they are the same people who seem not so interested in defending anyone but themselves after the accident of birth is complete! These same people who profess their love of the unborn's soul-they don't care to make much of a contribution to the poor, they don't care to offer much assistance to the unwanted or the oppressed! How do they justify such a concern for the fetus and such a lack of concern for unwanted and abused children? They condemn others for the accident of conception; they condemn the poor-as if the poor can help being poor. One way the poor could help themselves would be to be in control of the size of their families. I thought that freedom of choice was obviously democratic-was obviously American!
John Irving (The Cider House Rules)
To-day we live so cowed under the bombardment of this intellectual artillery(the media) that hardly anyone can attain to the inward detachment that is required for a clear view of the monstrous drama. The will-to-power operating under a pure democratic disguise has finished off its masterpiece so well that the object's sense of freedom is actually flattered by the most thorough-going enslavement that has ever existed
Oswald Spengler (The Decline of the West, Vol 2: Perspectives of World History)
I believe in aristocracy, though -- if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secreat understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but power to endure, and they can take a joke.
E.M. Forster (Two Cheers for Democracy)
No emergency was ever dealt with effectively by democratic process.
Ian McEwan (Enduring Love)
Bolivia is a striking example. The mostly white, Europeanized elite, which is a minority, happens to be sitting on most of the hydrocarbon reserves. For the first time Bolivia is becoming democratic. So it's therefore bitterly hated by the West, which despises democracy, because it's much too dangerous.
Noam Chomsky
As far as I'm concerned, I'm a middle-of-the-road moderate and the rest of you are crazy.
Ann Coulter (If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans)
For nothing is more democratic than logic; it is no respecter of persons and makes no distinction between crooked and straight noses.
Friedrich Nietzsche (The Gay Science)
The reality of this election is that we can choose between a disappointing Democrat and the end of the world.
Wil Wheaton
Civil disobedience, as I put it to the audience, was not the problem, despite the warnings of some that it threatened social stability, that it led to anarchy. The greatest danger, I argued, was civil obedience, the submission of individual conscience to governmental authority. Such obedience led to the horrors we saw in totalitarian states, and in liberal states it led to the public's acceptance of war whenever the so-called democratic government decided on it... In such a world, the rule of law maintains things as they are. Therefore, to begin the process of change, to stop a war, to establish justice, it may be necessary to break the law, to commit acts of civil disobedience, as Southern black did, as antiwar protesters did.
Howard Zinn (You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times)
The idea that each corporation can be a feudal monarchy and yet behave in its corporate action like a democratic citizen concerned for the world we live in is one of the great absurdities of our time—
Kim Stanley Robinson (Antarctica)
Discourse and critical thinking are essential tools when it comes to securing progress in a democratic society. But in the end, unity and engaged participation are what make it happen.
Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays)
You may have heard the talk of diversity, sensitivity training, and body cameras. These are all fine and applicable, but they understate the task and allow the citizens of this country to pretend that there is real distance between their own attitudes and those of the ones appointed to protect them. The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of this country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies—the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects—are the product of democratic will. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream. The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The widespread abuse of prisoners is a virtually foolproof indication that politicians are trying to impose a system--whether political, religious or economic--that is rejected by large numbers of the people they are ruling. Just as ecologists define ecosystems by the presence of certain "indicator species" of plants and birds, torture is an indicator species of a regime that is engaged in a deeply anti-democratic project, even if that regime happens to have come to power through elections.
Naomi Klein (The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism)
With a library you are free, not confined by temporary political climates. It is the most democratic of institutions because no one - but no one at all - can tell you what to read and when and how.
Doris Lessing
Maybe you do not care much about the future of the Republican Party. You should. Conservatives will always be with us. If conservatives become convinced that they can not win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. The will reject democracy.
David Frum (Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic)
Remember something, if you will, about voting: Voting is not a horse race, you're not going there thinking "Gee, I gotta pick the winner so I can brag to my friends 'Oh, I picked so-and-so and he or she won'". Voting is voting your heart and voting your conscience and when you've done that, don't ever, EVER let a Democrat or Republican tell you that you've wasted your vote because the fact is, if you DON'T vote your heart and conscience then you HAVE wasted your vote.
Jesse Ventura
A democratic civilization will save itself only if it makes the language of the image into a stimulus for critical reflection — not an invitation for hypnosis.
Umberto Eco (The Screen Education Reader: Cinema, Television, Culture)
Motörhead is nothing if not democratic, but I don't think it's fair to be waving your dick around when people are minding their own business and might not want to see it.
Lemmy Kilmister (White Line Fever: The Autobiography)
When I was nineteen, pureness was the great issue. Instead of the world being divided up into Catholics and Protestants or Republicans and Democrats or white men and black men or even men and women, I saw the world divided into people who had slept with somebody and people who hadn’t, and this seemed the only really significant difference between one person and another.
Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar)
Whether they be young in spirit, or young in age, the members of the Democratic Party must never lose that youthful zest for new ideas and for a better world, which has made us great.
John F. Kennedy
This is the permanent tension that lies at the heart of a capitalist democracy and is exacerbated in times of crisis. In order to ensure the survival of the richest, it is democracy that has to be heavily regulated rather than capitalism.
Tariq Ali (The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad)
Here’s what I believe: 1. If you are offended or hurt when you hear Hillary Clinton or Maxine Waters called bitch, whore, or the c-word, you should be equally offended and hurt when you hear those same words used to describe Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway, or Theresa May. 2. If you felt belittled when Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters “a basket of deplorables” then you should have felt equally concerned when Eric Trump said “Democrats aren’t even human.” 3. When the president of the United States calls women dogs or talks about grabbing pussy, we should get chills down our spine and resistance flowing through our veins. When people call the president of the United States a pig, we should reject that language regardless of our politics and demand discourse that doesn’t make people subhuman. 4. When we hear people referred to as animals or aliens, we should immediately wonder, “Is this an attempt to reduce someone’s humanity so we can get away with hurting them or denying them basic human rights?” 5. If you’re offended by a meme of Trump Photoshopped to look like Hitler, then you shouldn’t have Obama Photoshopped to look like the Joker on your Facebook feed. There is a line. It’s etched from dignity. And raging, fearful people from the right and left are crossing it at unprecedented rates every single day. We must never tolerate dehumanization—the primary instrument of violence that has been used in every genocide recorded throughout history.
Brené Brown (Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone)
People use democracy as a free-floating abstraction disconnected from reality. Democracy in and of itself is not necessarily good. Gang rape, after all, is democracy in action. All men have the right to live their own life. Democracy must be rooted in a rational philosophy that first and foremost recognizes the right of an individual. A few million Imperial Order men screaming for the lives of a much smaller number of people in the New World may win a democratic vote, but it does not give them the right to those lives, or make their calls for such killing right. Democracy is not a synonym for justice or for freedom. Democracy is not a sacred right sanctifying mob rule. Democracy is a principle that is subordinate to the inalienable rights of the individual.
Terry Goodkind (Naked Empire (Sword of Truth, #8))
Bigotry against any group should be disqualifying for high office.
Alan M. Dershowitz
Despite his consistent party-line voting record, some independents and Democrats still think of Senator McCain as the most palatable, independent-minded Republican. But this is the sort of empty compliment a friend of mine once compared to being called “the coolest Osmond.
Sarah Vowell
It is above all in the present democratic age that the true friends of liberty and human grandeur must remain constantly vigilant and ready to prevent the social power from lightly sacrificing the particular rights of a few individuals to the general execution of its designs. In such times there is no citizen so obscure that it is not very dangerous to allow him to be oppressed, and there are no individual rights so unimportant that they can be sacrificed to arbitrariness with impunity.
Alexis de Tocqueville
Disagreements are inevitable. There will always be opposing viewpoints and a variety of perspectives on most subjects. Tastes differ as well as preferences. That is why they make vanilla and chocolate and strawberry ice cream, why they build Fords and Chevys, Chryslers and Cadillacs, Hondas and Toyotas. That is why our nation has room for Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals - and moderates. The tension is built into our system. It is what freedom is all about, including religious freedom. I am fairly firm in my theological convictions, but that doesn't mean you (or anyone) must agree with me. All this explains why we must place so much importance on leaving "wobble room" in our relationships. One's theological persuasion may not bend, but one's involvement with others must.
Charles R. Swindoll
It is one of the saddest spectacles of our time to see a great democratic movement support a policy which must lead to the destruction of democracy and which meanwhile can benefit only a minority of the masses who support it. Yet it is this support from the Left of the tendencies toward monopoly which make them so irresistible and the prospects of the future so dark.
Friedrich A. Hayek (The Road to Serfdom)
There was a rift in American life that was now coursing through American government. It wasn’t between Democrats and Republicans. It was between the people who were in it for the mission, and the people who were in it for the money.
Michael Lewis (The Fifth Risk)
Washington has become our Versailles. We are ruled, entertained, and informed by courtiers -- and the media has evolved into a class of courtiers. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are mostly courtiers. Our pundits and experts, at least those with prominent public platforms, are courtiers. We are captivated by the hollow stagecraft of political theater as we are ruthlessly stripped of power. It is smoke and mirrors, tricks and con games, and the purpose behind it is deception.
Chris Hedges (Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle)
Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you. For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.
Alexis de Tocqueville
It is complete nihilism to propose laying down arms in a world where atom bombs are around. It is very simple: there is no way of achieving peace other than with weapons.
Karl Popper (The Lesson of this Century: With Two Talks on Freedom and the Democratic State)
Is it a democratic society that condemns people to the accident of conception? What are we-monkeys? If you expect people to be responsible for their children, you have to give them the right to choose whether or not to have children. What are you people thinking of? You're not only crazy! You're ogres!
John Irving (The Cider House Rules)
If there is one fact we really can prove, from the history that we really do know, it is that despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic. A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy. As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty; and they prefer to arm only one single sentinel to watch the city while they sleep.
G.K. Chesterton (The Everlasting Man)
The democratic principle, enunciated in the words of the Declaration of Independence, declared that government was secondary, that the people who established it were primary. Thus, the future of democracy depended on the people, and their growing consciousness of what was the decent way to relate to their fellow human beings all over the world.
Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States)
A system is corrupt when it is strictly profit-driven, not driven to serve the best interests of its people.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
Corruption is uniquely reprehensible in a democracy because it violates the system's first principle, which we all learned back in the sunshiny days of elementary school: that the government exist to serve the public, not particular companies or individuals or even elected officials.
Thomas Frank (The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule)
The media are desperately afraid of being accused of bias. And that's partly because there's a whole machine out there, an organized attempt to accuse them of bias whenever they say anything that the Right doesn't like. So rather than really try to report things objectively, they settle for being even-handed, which is not the same thing. One of my lines in a column—in which a number of people thought I was insulting them personally—was that if Bush said the Earth was flat, the mainstream media would have stories with the headline: 'Shape of Earth—Views Differ.' Then they'd quote some Democrats saying that it was round.
Paul Krugman
The act of true reading is in its very essence democratic. Consider the nature of what happens when we read a book - and I mean, of course, a work of literature, not an instruction manual or a textbook - in private, unsupervised, un-spied-on, alone. It isn't like a lecture: it's like a conversation. There's a back-and-forthness about it. The book proposes, the reader questions, the book responds, the reader considers. We bring our own preconceptions and expectations, our own intellectual qualities, and our limitations, too, our own previous experiences of reading, our own temperament, our own hopes and fears, our own personality to the encounter.
Philip Pullman
The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau.
Ludwig von Mises (Bureaucracy)
The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable"...In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.
George Orwell (Essays)
[The American President] has to take all sorts of abuse from liars and demagogues.… The people can never understand why the President does not use his supposedly great power to make ’em behave. Well, all the President is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.
Harry Truman
The rich run a global system that allows them to accumulate capital and pay the lowest possible price for labour. The freedom that results applies only to them. The many simply have to work harder, in conditions that grow ever more insecure, to enrich the few. Democratic politics, which purports to enrich the many, is actually in the pocket of those bankers, media barons and other moguls who run and own everything.
Charles Moore
Our freedoms are vanishing. If you do not get active to take a stand now against all that is wrong while we still can, then maybe one of your children may elect to do so in the future, when it will be far more riskier — and much, much harder.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
The Republican party is the party of nostalgia. It seeks to return America to a simpler, more innocent and moral past that never actually existed. The Democrats are utopians. They seek to create an America so fair and non-judgmental that life becomes an unbearable series of apologies. Together, the two parties function like giant down comforters, allowing a candidate to disappear into the enveloping softness, protecting them from exposure to the harsh weather of independent thought.
Jon Stewart (America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction)
I believe that the universe was formed around 15 billion years ago and that humans have evolved from their apelike ancestors over the past few million years. I believe we are more likely to live a good life if all humans try to work together in a world community, preserving planet earth. When decisions for groups are made in this world, I believe that the democratic process should be used. To protect the individual, I believe in freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom from religion, freedom of inquiry, and a wall of separation between church and state. When making decisions about what is right or wrong, I believe I should use my intelligence to reason about the likely consequences of my actions. I believe that I should try to increase the happiness of everyone by caring for other people and finding ways to cooperate. Never should my actions discriminate against people simply because of their race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, or national origin. I believe that ideas about what is right and wrong will change with education, so I am prepared to continually question ideas using evidence from experience and science. I believe there is no valid evidence to support claims for the existence of supernatural entities and deities. I will use these beliefs to guide my thinking and my actions until I find good reasons for revising them or replacing them with other beliefs that are more valid.
Ronald P. Carver
The conservatives are fools: They whine about the decay of traditional values, yet they enthusiastically support technological progress and economic growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can't make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the economy of a society without causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably break down traditional values.
Theodore J. Kaczynski (Industrial Society and Its Future)
Blind party loyalty will be our downfall. We must follow the truth wherever it leads.
DaShanne Stokes
What the hell is this? Station after station, talk, talk, talk about the devil and the liberal democrats, what??? They still looking for communists? I dont believe this shit. Give me an amen and thank you jesus...whats with these people? This whole world is one big trailer park. They hate everybody. If theyre not hanging 'gays' they are hanging 'feminists', oh thank god for an 'off' button. Krist, my heart is pounding. Where am I? This cant be the same country I spent my entire life in.
Hubert Selby Jr. (Waiting Period)
The way she told it, she was such a criminal even the most God-fearing church ladies got bored of reporting on her; she did the marketing on Sunday, dropped by any church she liked or none at all, was a feminist (which Mrs. Asher sometimes confused with communist), a Democrat (which Mrs. Lincoln pointed out practically had "demon" in the word itself), and, worst of all, a vegetarian (which ruled out any dinner invitations from Mrs. Snow).
Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1))
To be a jazz freedom fighter is to attempt to galvanize and energize world-weary people into forms of organization with accountable leadership that promote critical exchange and broad reflection. The interplay of individuality and unity is not one of uniformity and unanimity imposed from above but rather of conflict among diverse groupings that reach a dynamic consensus subject to questioning and criticism. As with a soloist in a jazz quartet, quintet or band, individuality is promoted in order to sustain and increase the creative tension with the group--a tension that yields higher levels of performance to achieve the aim of the collective project. This kind of critical and democratic sensibility flies in the face of any policing of borders and boundaries of "blackness", "maleness", "femaleness", or "whiteness".
Cornel West (Race Matters)
A good novel is one that shows the complexity of individuals, and creates enough space for all these characters to have a voice; in this way a novel is called democratic - not that it advocates democracy but that by nature it is so. Empathy lies at the heart of Gatsby, like so many other great novels - the biggest sin is to be blind to others' problems and pains. Not seeing them means denying their existence.
Azar Nafisi (Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books)
As the saying goes: God made man and woman; Colonel Colt made them equal.
Ann Coulter (If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans)
You know what?' said Vimes aloud. 'This is going to be the world's first democratically killed dragon. One man, one stab.' Then you've got to stop them. You can't let them kill it!' said Lady Ramkin. Vimes blinked at her. Pardon?' he said. It's wounded!' Lady, that was the intention, wasn't it? Anyway, it's only stunned,' said Vimes. I mean you can't let them kill it like this,' said Lady Ramkin insistently. 'Poor thing!' What do you want to do, then?' demanded Vimes, his temper unravelling. 'Give it a strengthening dose of tar oil and a nice comfy basket in front of the stove?' It's butchery!' Suits me fine!' But it's a dragon! It's just doing what a dragon does! It never would have come here if people had left it alone!' Vimes thought: it was about to eat her, and she can still think like this. He hesitated. Perhaps that did give you the right to an opinion...
Terry Pratchett (Guards! Guards! (Discworld, #8))
I enjoy self-publishing & sending publishers rejection letters. They're like, 'Who is this guy?' And I'm like, 'the end of your industry.
Ryan Lilly (Write like no one is reading)
There is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote.
David Foster Wallace (Consider the Lobster and Other Essays)
Democratic and aristocratic states are not in their own nature free. Political liberty is to be found only in moderate governments; and even in these it is not always found. It is there only when there is no abuse of power. But constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go.
Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws)
It’s great to live free of the other sheep until you hear the wolves howl.
Max Brooks (Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre)
My father despises cats. He believes them to be Democrats. He considers them to be little mean hillary clintons covered all over with feminist legfur. Cats would have abortions, if given half a chance. Cats would have abortions for fun. Consequently our own soft sinner, a soulful snowshoe named Alice, will stay shut in the bedroom upstairs, padding back and forth on cashmere paws, campaigning for equal pay, educating me about my reproductive system, and generally plotting the downfall of all men.
Patricia Lockwood (Priestdaddy)
When I look at Africa many questions come to mind, many times I have asked myself what would happen if Dr Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba were to rise up and see what is happening, many times I have asked myself what would happen if Nelson Madiba Mandela were to rise up and see what is happening, because what they will be confronted with is an Africa where the Democratic Republic of Congo is unsettled, there is a war going on there, but it's not on the front pages of our newspapers because we don't even control our newspapers and the media.
Patrick L.O. Lumumba
The truths of the Judaic-Christian tradition, are infinitely precious, not only, as I believe, because they are true, but also because they provide the moral impulse which alone can lead to that peace, in the true meaning of the word, for which we all long. . . . There is little hope for democracy if the hearts of men and women in democratic societies cannot be touched by a call to something greater than themselves.
Margaret Thatcher
The white liberal is the worst enemy to America, and the worst enemy to the black man. Let me explain what I mean by the white liberal. In America there is no such thing as Democrat or Republican anymore. In America you have liberals and conservatives. The only people living in the past who think in terms of I’m a Democrat or Republican, is the American Negro. He’s the one that runs around bragging about party affiliation. He’s the one that sticks to the Democrat or sticks to the Republican. But white people are divided into two groups, liberals and conservative. The Democrats who are conservative, vote with the Republicans who are conservative. The Democrats who are liberal vote with the Republicans that are liberal. The white liberal aren’t white people who are for independence, who are moral and ethical in their thinking. They are just a faction of white people that are jockeying for power. The same as the white conservative is a faction of white people that are jockeying for power. They are fighting each other for power and prestige, and the one that is the football in the game is the Negro, 20 million black people. A political football, a political pawn, an economic football, and economic pawn. A social football, a social pawn. The liberal elements of whites are those who have perfected the art of selling themselves to the Negro as a friend of the Negro. Getting sympathy of the Negro, getting the allegiance of the Negro, and getting the mind of the Negro. Then the Negro sides with the white liberal, and the white liberal use the Negro against the white conservative. So that anything that the Negro does is never for his own good, never for his own advancement, never for his own progress, he’s only a pawn in the hands of the white liberal. The worst enemy that the Negro have is this white man that runs around here drooling at the mouth professing to love Negros, and calling himself a liberal, and it is following these white liberals that has perpetuated problems that Negros have. If the Negro wasn’t taken, tricked, or deceived by the white liberal then Negros would get together and solve our own problems. I only cite these things to show you that in America the history of the white liberal has been nothing but a series of trickery designed to make Negros think that the white liberal was going to solve our problems. Our problems will never be solved by the white man. The only way that our problem will be solved is when the black man wakes up, clean himself up, stand on his own feet and stop begging the white man, and take immediate steps to do for ourselves the things that we have been waiting on the white man to do for us. Once we do for self then we will be able to solve our own problems’ "The white conservatives aren't friends of the Negro either, but they at least don't try to hide it. They are like wolves; they show their teeth in a snarl that keeps the Negro always aware of where he stands with them. But the white liberals are foxes, who also show their teeth to the Negro but pretend that they are smiling. The white liberals are more dangerous than the conservatives; they lure the Negro, and as the Negro runs from the growling wolf, he flees into the open jaws of the "smiling" fox. One is the wolf, the other is a fox. No matter what, they’ll both eat you.
Malcolm X
I am a democrat [proponent of democracy] because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that every one deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. . . . I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost. Much less a nation. . . . The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.
C.S. Lewis (Present Concerns)
Human existence may be simpler than we thought. There is no predestination, no unfathomed mystery of life. Demons and gods do not vie for our allegiance. Instead, we are self-made, independent, alone, and fragile, a biological species adapted to live in a biological world. What counts for long-term survival is intelligent self-understanding, based upon a greater independence of thought than that tolerated today even in our most advanced democratic societies.
Edward O. Wilson (The Meaning of Human Existence)
Paul's face grew serious. 'I think whenever a people has enormous resources, it is easy for them to call themselves democratic. I think of myself more as a physician than an American. We belong to the nation of those who care for the sick. Americans are lazy democrats, and it is my belief, as someone who shares the same nationality as [a Russian doctor], I think the rich can always call themselves democratic, but the sick people are not among the rich [...] I'm very proud to be an American. I have many opportunities because I'm American. I can travel freely through the world, I can start projects, but that's called privilege, not democracy.
Tracy Kidder (Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World)
We still (sometimes) remember that we cannot be free if our minds and voices are controlled by someone else. But we have neglected to understand that we cannot be free if our food and its sources are controlled by someone else. The condition of the passive consumer of food is not a democratic condition. One reason to eat responsibly is to live free. (pg. 323, The Pleasures of Eating)
Wendell Berry (The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays)
The job facing American voters… in the days and years to come is to determine which hearts, minds and souls command those qualities best suited to unify a country rather than further divide it, to heal the wounds of a nation as opposed to aggravate its injuries, and to secure for the next generation a legacy of choices based on informed awareness rather than one of reactions based on unknowing fear.
Aberjhani (Illuminated Corners: Collected Essays and Articles Volume I.)
as a lobbyist he had long ago concluded there was no difference in how Democrats and Republicans conducted the business of government. The game stayed the same: It was always about favors and friends, and who controlled the dough. Party labels were merely a way to keep track of the teams; issues were mostly smoke and vaudeville. Nobody believed in anything except hanging on to power, whatever it took. .....
Carl Hiaasen (Sick Puppy (Skink, #4))
I believe in political equality. But there are two opposite reasons for being a democrat. You may think all men so good that they deserve a share in the government of the commonwealth, and so wise that the commonwealth needs their advice. That is, in my opinion, the false, romantic doctrine of democracy. On the other hand, you may believe fallen men to be so wicked that not one of them can be trusted with any irresponsible power over his fellows. That I believe to be the true ground of democracy. I do not believe that God created an egalitarian world. I believe the authority of parent over child, husband over wife, learned over simple to have been as much a part of the original plan as the authority of man over beast. I believe that if we had not fallen...patriarchal monarchy would be the sole lawful government. But since we have learned sin, we have found, as Lord Acton says, that 'all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.' The only remedy has been to take away the powers and substitute a legal fiction of equality. The authority of father and husband has been rightly abolished on the legal plane, not because this authority is in itself bad (on the contrary, it is, I hold, divine in origin), but because fathers and husbands are bad. Theocracy has been rightly abolished not because it is bad that learned priests should govern ignorant laymen, but because priests are wicked men like the rest of us. Even the authority of man over beast has had to be interfered with because it is constantly abused.
C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)
A true Democratic Spirit is up there with religious faith and emotional maturity and all those other top-of-the-Maslow-Pyramid-type qualities that people spend their whole lives working on. A Democratic Spirit's constituent rigor and humility and self-honesty are, in fact, so hard to maintain on certain issues that it's almost irresistibly tempting to fall in with some established dogmatic camp and to follow that camp's line on the issue and to let your position harden within the camp and become inflexible and to believe that he other camps are either evil or insane and to spend all your time and energy trying to shout over them.
David Foster Wallace (Consider the Lobster and Other Essays)
Honestly, the weirdest part is how they made it feel like this big coming out moment. Which can't be normal. As far as I know, coming out isn't something that straight kids generally worry about. That's the thing people wouldn't understand. This coming out thing. It's not even about me being gay, because I know deep down that my family would be fine with it. We're not religious. My parents are Democrats. My dad likes to joke around, and it would definitely be awkward, but I guess I'm lucky. I know they're not going to disown me. And I'm sure some people in school would give me hell, but my friends would be fine. Leah loves gay guys, so she'd probably be freaking thrilled. But I'm tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get girlfriends. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.
Becky Albertalli (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Simonverse, #1))
I honestly see the battle between Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative as the exact same dynamic--there's a group of people in this world that don't like conflict and care about what other people are going through, and then there's this other group of people in the world who hate that. 'Suck it up, man, we're not coddling you, take care of yourself, what's your problem?' It's jocks versus geeks, and I've always referred to life as perpetual high school because it never stops.
Paul Feig
Universal literacy was supposed to educate the common man to control his environment. Once he could read and write he would have a mind fit to rule. So ran the democratic doctrine. But instead of a mind, universal literacy has given him rubber stamps, rubber stamps inked with advertising slogans, with editorials, with published scientific data, with the trivialities of the tabloids and the platitudes of history, but quite innocent of original thought. Each man's rubber stamps are the duplicates of millions of others, so that when those millions are exposed to the same stimuli, all receive identical imprints. It may seem an exaggeration to say that the American public gets most of its ideas in this wholesale fashion. The mechanism by which ideas are disseminated on a large scale is propaganda, in the broad sense of an organized effort to spread a particular belief or doctrine.
Edward L. Bernays (Propaganda)
Pick a leader who will make their citizens proud. One who will stir the hearts of the people, so that the sons and daughters of a given nation strive to emulate their leader's greatness. Only then will a nation be truly great, when a leader inspires and produces citizens worthy of becoming future leaders, honorable decision makers and peacemakers. And in these times, a great leader must be extremely brave. Their leadership must be steered only by their conscience, not a bribe.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
I have never been able to understand where people got the idea that democracy was in some way opposed to tradition. It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record. . . . Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.
G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)
Why, how can you ask such a question? You are a republican." A republican! Yes; but that word specifies nothing. Res publica; that is, the public thing. Now, whoever is interested in public affairs -- no matter under what form of government -- may call himself a republican. Even kings are republicans." Well! You are a democrat?" No." What! "you would have a monarchy?" No." A Constitutionalist?" God forbid." Then you are an aristocrat?" Not at all!" You want a mixed form of government?" Even less." Then what are you?" I am an anarchist." Oh! I understand you; you speak satirically. This is a hit at the government." By no means. I have just given you my serious and well-considered profession of faith. Although a firm friend of order, I am (in the full force of the term) an anarchist. Listen to me.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (Proudhon: What Is Property?)
The problem is politics is made a sport, almost as much a sport as football or baseball. When it comes to politics, adults and politicians do more finger-pointing and play more games than children ever do. Too often are we rooting for the pride of a team rather than the good of the nation.
Criss Jami (Healology)
To save our democracy, Americans need to restore the basic norms that once protected it. But we must do more than that. We must extend those norms through the whole of a diverse society. We must make them truly inclusive. America's democratic norms, at their core, have always been sound. But for much of our history, they were accompanied - indeed, sustained - by racial exclusion. Now those norms must be made to work in an age of racial equality and unprecedented ethnic diversity. Few societies in history have managed to be both multiracial and genuinely democratic. That is our challenge. It is also our opportunity. If we meet it, America will truly be exceptional.
Steven Levitsky (How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future)
In regard to propaganda the early advocates of universal literacy and a free press envisaged only two possibilities: the propaganda might be true, or the propaganda might be false. They did not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democracies - the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions. In the past most people never got a chance of fully satisfying this appetite. They might long for distractions, but the distractions were not provided. Christmas came but once a year, feasts were "solemn and rare," there were few readers and very little to read, and the nearest approach to a neighborhood movie theater was the parish church, where the performances though frequent, were somewhat monotonous. For conditions even remotely comparable to those now prevailing we must return to imperial Rome, where the populace was kept in good humor by frequent, gratuitous doses of many kinds of entertainment - from poetical dramas to gladiatorial fights, from recitations of Virgil to all-out boxing, from concerts to military reviews and public executions. But even in Rome there was nothing like the non-stop distractions now provided by newspapers and magazines, by radio, television and the cinema. In "Brave New World" non-stop distractions of the most fascinating nature are deliberately used as instruments of policy, for the purpose of preventing people from paying too much attention to the realities of the social and political situation. The other world of religion is different from the other world of entertainment; but they resemble one another in being most decidedly "not of this world." Both are distractions and, if lived in too continuously, both can become, in Marx's phrase "the opium of the people" and so a threat to freedom. Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in their calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those would manipulate and control it.
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World Revisited)
There are growing domestic social and economic problems, in fact, maybe catastrophes. Nobody in power has any intention of doing anything about them. If you look at the domestic programs of the administrations of the past ten years-I include here the Democratic opposition-there's really no serious proposal about what to do about the severe problems of health, education, homelessness, joblessness, crime, soaring criminal populations, jails, deterioration in the inner cities - the whole raft of problems... In such circumstances you've got to divert the bewildered herd, because if they start noticing this they may not like it, since they're the ones suffering from it. Just having them watch the Superbowl and the sitcoms may not be enough. You have to whip them up into fear of enemies. In the 1930s Hitler whipped them into fear of the Jews and gypsies. You had to crush them to defend yourselves. We have our ways, too. Over the last ten years, every year ot two, some major monster is constructed that we have to defend ourselves against.
Noam Chomsky (Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda)
I am, and always have been - first, last, and always - a child of America. You raised me. I grew up in the pastures and hills of Texas, but I had been to thirty-four states before I learned how to drive. When I caught the stomach flu in the fifth grade, my mother sent a note to school written on the back of a holiday memo from Vice President Biden. Sorry, sir—we were in a rush, and it was the only paper she had on hand. I spoke to you for the first time when I was eighteen, on the stage of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, when I introduced my mother as the nominee for president. You cheered for me. I was young and full of hope, and you let me embody the American dream: that a boy who grew up speaking two languages, whose family was blended and beautiful and enduring, could make a home for himself in the White House. You pinned the flag to my lapel and said, “We’re rooting for you.” As I stand before you today, my hope is that I have not let you down. Years ago, I met a prince. And though I didn’t realize it at the time, his country had raised him too. The truth is, Henry and I have been together since the beginning of this year. The truth is, as many of you have read, we have both struggled every day with what this means for our families, our countries, and our futures. The truth is, we have both had to make compromises that cost us sleep at night in order to afford us enough time to share our relationship with the world on our own terms. We were not afforded that liberty. But the truth is, also, simply this: love is indomitable. America has always believed this. And so, I am not ashamed to stand here today where presidents have stood and say that I love him, the same as Jack loved Jackie, the same as Lyndon loved Lady Bird. Every person who bears a legacy makes the choice of a partner with whom they will share it, whom the American people will “hold beside them in hearts and memories and history books. America: He is my choice. Like countless other Americans, I was afraid to say this out loud because of what the consequences might be. To you, specifically, I say: I see you. I am one of you. As long as I have a place in this White House, so will you. I am the First Son of the United States, and I’m bisexual. History will remember us. If I can ask only one thing of the American people, it’s this: Please, do not let my actions influence your decision in November. The decision you will make this year is so much bigger than anything I could ever say or do, and it will determine the fate of this country for years to come. My mother, your president, is the warrior and the champion that each and every American deserves for four more years of growth, progress, and prosperity. Please, don’t let my actions send us backward. I ask the media not to focus on me or on Henry, but on the campaign, on policy, on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans at stake in this election. And finally, I hope America will remember that I am still the son you raised. My blood still runs from Lometa, Texas, and San Diego, California, and Mexico City. I still remember the sound of your voices from that stage in Philadelphia. I wake up every morning thinking of your hometowns, of the families I’ve met at rallies in Idaho and Oregon and South Carolina. I have never hoped to be anything other than what I was to you then, and what I am to you now—the First Son, yours in actions and words. And I hope when Inauguration Day comes again in January, I will continue to be.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
As in the political sphere, the child is taught that he is free, a democrat, with a free will and a free mind, lives in a free country, makes his own decisions. At the same time he is a prisoner of the assumptions and dogmas of his time, which he does not question, because he has never been told they exist. By the time a young person has reached the age when he has to choose (we still take it for granted that a choice is inevitable) between the arts and the sciences, he often chooses the arts because he feels that here is humanity, freedom, choice. He does not know that he is already moulded by a system: he does not know that the choice itself is the result of a false dichotomy rooted in the heart of our culture. Those who do sense this, and who don't wish to subject themselves to further moulding, tend to leave, in a half-unconscious, instinctive attempt to find work where they won't be divided against themselves. With all our institutions, from the police force to academia, from medicine to politics, we give little attention to the people who leave—that process of elimination that goes on all the time and which excludes, very early, those likely to be original and reforming, leaving those attracted to a thing because that is what they are already like. A young policeman leaves the Force saying he doesn't like what he has to do. A young teacher leaves teaching, here idealism snubbed. This social mechanism goes almost unnoticed—yet it is as powerful as any in keeping our institutions rigid and oppressive.
Doris Lessing
It is the fate of great achievements, born from a way of life that sets truth before security, to be gobbled up by you and excreted in the form of shit. For centuries great, brave, lonely men have been telling you what to do. Time and again you have corrupted, diminished and demolished their teachings; time and again you have been captivated by their weakest points, taken not the great truth, but some trifling error as your guiding principal. This, little man, is what you have done with Christianity, with the doctrine of sovereign people, with socialism, with everything you touch. Why, you ask, do you do this? I don't believe you really want an answer. When you hear the truth you'll cry bloody murder, or commit it. … You had your choice between soaring to superhuman heights with Nietzsche and sinking into subhuman depths with Hitler. You shouted Heil! Heil! and chose the subhuman. You had the choice between Lenin's truly democratic constitution and Stalin's dictatorship. You chose Stalin's dictatorship. You had your choice between Freud's elucidation of the sexual core of your psychic disorders and his theory of cultural adaptation. You dropped the theory of sexuality and chose his theory of cultural adaptation, which left you hanging in mid-air. You had your choice between Jesus and his majestic simplicity and Paul with his celibacy for priests and life-long compulsory marriage for yourself. You chose the celibacy and compulsory marriage and forgot the simplicity of Jesus' mother, who bore her child for love and love alone. You had your choice between Marx's insight into the productivity of your living labor power, which alone creates the value of commodities and the idea of the state. You forgot the living energy of your labor and chose the idea of the state. In the French Revolution, you had your choice between the cruel Robespierre and the great Danton. You chose cruelty and sent greatness and goodness to the guillotine. In Germany you had your choice between Goring and Himmler on the one hand and Liebknecht, Landau, and Muhsam on the other. You made Himmler your police chief and murdered your great friends. You had your choice between Julius Streicher and Walter Rathenau. You murdered Rathenau. You had your choice between Lodge and Wilson. You murdered Wilson. You had your choice between the cruel Inquisition and Galileo's truth. You tortured and humiliated the great Galileo, from whose inventions you are still benefiting, and now, in the twentieth century, you have brought the methods of the Inquisition to a new flowering. … Every one of your acts of smallness and meanness throws light on the boundless wretchedness of the human animal. 'Why so tragic?' you ask. 'Do you feel responsible for all evil?' With remarks like that you condemn yourself. If, little man among millions, you were to shoulder the barest fraction of your responsibility, the world would be a very different place. Your great friends wouldn't perish, struck down by your smallness.
Wilhelm Reich (Listen, Little Man!)
[P]eople only make decisions based on what they know. You can have everyone in the country vote freely and democratically and still come up with the wrong answer - if the information they base that decision on is wrong. People don't want the truth [when] it is complicated. They don't want to spend years debating an issue. They want it homogenized, sanitized, and above all, simplified into terms they can understand...Governments are often criticized for moving slowly, but that deliberateness, it turns out, is their strength. They take time to think through complex problems before they act. People, however, are different. People react first from the gut and then from the head...give that knee-jerk reflex real power to make its overwhelming will known as a national mandate instantly and you can cause a political riot. Combine these sins - simplification of information and instant, visceral democratic mandates - and you lose the ability to cool down. There is no longer deliberation time between events that may or may not be true and our reaction to them. Policy becomes instinct rather than thought.
Tracy Hickman (The Immortals)
Try to roll with the punches. Keep your chin up. Don’t take any wooden nickels. Vote Democrat in every election. Ride your bike in the park. Dream about my perfect, golden body. Take your vitamins. Drink eight glasses of water a day. Pull for the Mets. Watch a lot of movies. Don’t work too hard at your job. Take a trip to Paris with me. Come to the hospital when Rachel has her baby and hold my grandchild in your arms. Brush your teeth after every meal. Don’t cross the street on a red light. Defend the little guy. Stick up for yourself. Remember how beautiful you are. Remember how much I love you. Drink one Scotch on the rocks every day. Breathe deeply. Keep your eyes open. Stay away from fatty foods. Sleep the sleep of the just. Remember how much I love you.
Paul Auster (The Brooklyn Follies)
In his grave, we praise him for his decency - but when he walked amongst us, we responded with no decency of our own. When he suggested that all men should have a place in the sun - we put a special sanctity on the right of ownership and the privilege of prejudice by maintaining that to deny homes to Negroes was a democratic right. Now we acknowledge his compassion - but we exercised no compassion of our own. When he asked us to understand that men take to the streets out of anguish and hopelessness and a vision of that dream dying, we bought guns and speculated about roving agitators and subversive conspiracies and demanded law and order. We felt anger at the effects, but did little to acknowledge the causes. We extol all the virtues of the man - but we chose not to call them virtues before his death. And now, belatedly, we talk of this man's worth - but the judgement comes late in the day as part of a eulogy when it should have been made a matter of record while he existed as a living force. If we are to lend credence to our mourning, there are acknowledgements that must be made now, albeit belatedly. We must act on the altogether proper assumption that Martin Luther King asked for nothing but that which was his due... He asked only for equality, and it is that which we denied him. [excerpt from a letter to The Los Angeles Times in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.; April 8, 1968
Rod Serling
Both political parties have moved to the right during the neoliberal period. Today’s New Democrats are pretty much what used to be called “moderate Republicans.” The “political revolution” that Bernie Sanders called for, rightly, would not have greatly surprised Dwight Eisenhower. The fate of the minimum wage illustrates what has been happening. Through the periods of high and egalitarian growth in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the minimum wage—which sets a floor for other wages—tracked productivity. That ended with the onset of neoliberal doctrine. Since then, the minimum wage has stagnated (in real value). Had it continued as before, it would probably be close to $20 per hour. Today, it is considered a political revolution to raise it to $15.
Noam Chomsky
In Venezuela Chavez has made the co-ops a top political priority, giving them first refusal on government contracts and offering them economic incentives to trade with one another. By 2006, there were roughly 100,000 co-operatives in the country, employing more than 700,000 workers. Many are pieces of state infrastructure – toll booths, highway maintenance, health clinics – handed over to the communities to run. It’s a reverse of the logic of government outsourcing – rather than auctioning off pieces of the state to large corporations and losing democratic control, the people who use the resources are given the power to manage them, creating, at least in theory, both jobs and more responsive public services. Chavez’s many critics have derided these initiatives as handouts and unfair subsidies, of course. Yet in an era when Halliburton treats the U.S. government as its personal ATM for six years, withdraws upward of $20 billion in Iraq contracts alone, refuses to hire local workers either on the Gulf coast or in Iraq, then expresses its gratitude to U.S. taxpayers by moving its corporate headquarters to Dubai (with all the attendant tax and legal benefits), Chavez’s direct subsidies to regular people look significantly less radical.
Naomi Klein
I am told by people all the time that they simply do not have time to read and listen to all the material they have purchased or subscribed to. But time is democratic and just. Everyone has the same amount. When I choose to read with my mid morning coffee break and you choose to blather about trivia with friends, when I choose to study for an hour sitting on my backyard deck at day's end but you choose to watch a TIVO'd American Idol episode, we reveal much. When someone says he does not have the time to apply himself to acquiring the know-how required to create sufficient value for his stated desires, he is a farmer surrounded by ripe fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and a herd of cattle on his own property who dies of starvation, unable to organize his time and discipline himself to eat.
Dan S. Kennedy
. . . the only legitimate reason that kingship is not attractive to us is because in this age and this world the only kings available are finite and sinful. Listen to C. S. Lewis describe why he believes in democracy: A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. . . I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost, much less a nation. . . . The real reason for democracy is . . . Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.1 If there could be a king who is not limited in his wisdom and power and goodness and love for his subjects, then monarchy would be the best of all governments. If such a ruler could ever rise in the world—with no weakness, no folly, no sin—then no wise and humble person would ever want democracy again. The question is not whether God broke into the universe as a king. He did. The question is: What kind of king is he? What difference would his kingship make for you?
John Piper
In the moral realm, there is very little consensus left in Western countries over the proper basis of moral behavior. And because of the power of the media, for millions of men and women the only venue where moral questions are discussed and weighed is the talk show, where more often than not the primary aim is to entertain, even shock, not to think. When Geraldo and Oprah become the arbiters of public morality, when the opinion of the latest media personality is sought on everything from abortion to transvestites, when banality is mistaken for profundity because [it's] uttered by a movie star or a basketball player, it is not surprising that there is less thought than hype. Oprah shapes more of the nation's grasp of right and wrong than most of the pulpits in the land. Personal and social ethics have been removed from the realms of truth and structures of thoughts; they have not only been relativized, but they have been democratized and trivialized.
D.A. Carson (The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism)
The greatest miracle Christianity has achieved in America is that the black man in white Christian hands has not grown violent. It is a miracle that 22 million black people have not risen up against their oppressors – in which they would have been justified by all moral criteria, and even by the democratic tradition! It is a miracle that a nation of black people has so fervently continued to believe in a turn-the-other-cheek and heaven-for-you-after-you-die philosophy! It is a miracle that the American black people have remained a peaceful people, while catching all the centuries of hell that they have caught, here in white man’s heaven! The miracle is that the white man’s puppet Negro ‘leaders’, his preachers and the educated Negroes laden with degrees, and others who have been allowed to wax fat off their black poor brothers, have been able to hold the black masses quiet until now.
Malcolm X (The Autobiography of Malcolm X)
Maybe the critics are right. Maybe there's no escaping our great political divide, an endless clash of armies, and any attempts to alter the rules of engagement are futile. Or maybe the trivialization of politics has reached a point of no return, so that most people see it as just one more diversion, a sport, with politicians our paunch-bellied gladiators and those who bother to pay attention just fans on the sidelines: We paint our faces red or blue and cheer our side and boo their side, and if it takes a late hit or cheap shot to beat the other team, so be it, for winning is all that matters. But I don't think so. They are out there, I think to myself, those ordinary citizens who have grown up in the midst of all the political and cultural battles, but who have found a way-in their own lives, at least- to make peace with their neighbors, and themselves. ...I imagine they are waiting for a politics with the maturity to balance idealism and realism, to distinguish between what can and cannot be compromised, to admit the possibility that the other side might sometimes have a point. They don't always understand the arguments between right and left, conservative and liberal, but they recognize the difference between dogma and common sense, responsibility and irresponsibility, between those things that last and those that are fleeting. They are out there, waiting for Republicans and Democrats to catch up with them.
Barack Obama (The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream)
In an alleged democracy, the image of the public sphere with its appeal to dialogue and shared responsibility has given way to the spectacle of unbridled intolerance, ignorance, seething private fears, unchecked anger, along with the decoupling of reason from freedom. … What this decline in civility, the emergence of mob behavior …suggests is that we have become one of the most illiterate nations on the planet. I don't mean illiterate in the sense of not being able to read … The new illiteracy is about more than learning how to read the book or the word; it is about learning how not to read the world. … As a result of this widespread illiteracy that has come to dominate American culture we have moved from a culture of questioning to a culture of shouting, and in doing so have restaged politics and power in both unproductive and anti-democratic ways.
Henry A. Giroux
Pick a leader who will keep jobs in your country by offering companies incentives to hire only within their borders, not one who allows corporations to outsource jobs for cheaper labor when there is a national employment crisis. Choose a leader who will invest in building bridges, not walls. Books, not weapons. Morality, not corruption. Intellectualism and wisdom, not ignorance. Stability, not fear and terror. Peace, not chaos. Love, not hate. Convergence, not segregation. Tolerance, not discrimination. Fairness, not hypocrisy. Substance, not superficiality. Character, not immaturity. Transparency, not secrecy. Justice, not lawlessness. Environmental improvement and preservation, not destruction. Truth, not lies.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
But now it seems clear that literary criticism was inherently doomed. Explicitly or otherwise it had based itself on a structure of echelons and hierarchies; it was about the talent elite. And the structure atomized as soon as the forces of democratization gave their next concerted push. Those forces – incomparably the most potent in our culture – have gone on pushing. And they are now running up against a natural barrier. Some citadels, true, have proved stormable. You can become rich without having any talent (via the scratchcard and the rollover jackpot). You can become famous without having any talent (by abasing yourself on some TV nerdathon; a clear improvement on the older method of simply killing a celebrity and inheriting the aura). But you cannot become talented without having any talent. Therefore, talent must go. Literary criticism, now almost entirely confined to the universities, thus moves against talent by moving against the canon. Academic preferment will not come from a respectful study of Wordsworth’s poetics; it will come from a challenging study of his politics – his attitude toward the poor, say, or his unconscious ‘valorization’ of Napoleon; and it will come still faster if you ignore Wordsworth and elevate some (justly) neglected contemporary, by which process the canon may be quietly and steadily sapped. A brief consultation of the Internet will show that meanwhile, everyone has become a literary critic – or at least, a book-reviewer.
Martin Amis (The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000)
Today's Republican Party...is an insurgent outlier. It has become ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition, all but declaring war on the government. The Democratic Party, while no paragon of civic virtue, is more ideologically centered and diverse, protective of the government's role as it developed over the course of the last century, open to incremental changes in policy fashioned through bargaining with the Republicans, and less disposed to or adept at take-no-prisoners conflict between the parties. This asymmetry between the parties, which journalists and scholars often brush aside or whitewash in a quest for "balance," constitutes a huge obstacle to effective governance.
Thomas E. Mann (It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the Politics of Extremism)
Republican or Democrat, this nation's affluent urban and suburban classes understand their bread is buttered on the corporate side. The primary difference between the two parties is that the Republicans pretty much admit that they grasp and even endorse some of the nastiest facts of life in America. Republicans honestly tell the world: "Listen in on my phone calls, piss-test me until I'm blind, kill and eat all of my neighbors right in front of my eyes, but show me the money! Let me escape with every cent I can kick out of the suckers, the taxpayers, and anybody else I can get a headlock on, legally or otherwise." Democrats, in contrast, seem content to catalog the GOP's outrages against the Republic, showing proper indignation while laughing at episodes of The Daily Show. But they stand behind the American brand: imperialism. They "support our troops," though you will be hard put to find any of them who have served alongside them or who would send one of their own kids off to lose an eye or an arm in Iraq. They play the imperial game, maintain their credit ratings, and plan to keep the beach house and the retirement investments if it means sacrificing every damned Lynndie England in West Virginia.
Joe Bageant (Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War)
In trying to explain this linkage, I was inspired by a traditional African tool that has three legs and a basin to sit on. To me the three legs represent three critical pillars of just and stable societies. The first leg stands for democratic space, where rights are respected, whether they are human rights, women's rights, children's rights, or environmental rights. The second represents sustainable and equitable management and resources. And the third stands for cultures of peace that are deliberately cultivated within communities and nations. The basin, or seat, represents society and its prospects for development. Unless all three legs are in place, supporting the seat, no society can thrive. Neither can its citizens develop their skills and creativity. When one leg is missing, the seat is unstable; when two legs are missing, it is impossible to keep any state alive; and when no legs are available, the state is as good as a failed state. No development can take place in such a state either. Instead, conflict ensues.
Wangari Maathai (Unbowed)
The pleasures of my life here are simple – simple, inexpensive and democratic. A warm hill of Marmande tomatoes on a roadside vendor’s stall. A cold beer on a pavement table of the Café de France – Marie Thérèse inside making me a sandwich au camembert. Munching the knob of a fresh baguette as I wander back from Sainte-Sabine. The farinaceous smell of the white dust raised by a breeze from the driveway. A cuckoo sounding the perfectly silent woods beyond the meadow. A huge grey, cerise, pink, orange and washed-out blue of a sunset seen from my rear terrace. The drilling of the cicadas at noon – the soft dialing-tone of the crickets at dusk slowly gathers. A good book, a hammock and a cold, beaded bottle of blanc sec. A rough red wine and steak frites. The cool, dark, shuttered silence of my bedroom – and, as I go to sleep, the prospect that all this will be available to me again, unchanged, tomorrow.
William Boyd (Any Human Heart)
Ideologies aren't all that important. What's important is psychology. The Democratic constituency is just like a herd of cows. All you have to do is lay out enough silage and they come running. That's why I became an operative working with Democrats. With Democrats all you have to do is make a lot of noise, lay out the hay, and be ready to use the ole cattle prod in case a few want to bolt the herd. Eighty percent of the people who call themselves Democrats don't have a clue as to political reality. What amazes me is that you could take a group of people who are hard workers and convince them that they should support social programs that were the exact opposite of their own personal convictions. Put a little fear here and there and you can get people to vote any way you want. The voter is basically dumb and lazy. The reason I became a Democratic operative instead of a Republican was because there were more Democrats that didn't have a clue than there were Republicans. Truth is relative. Truth is what you can make the voter believe is the truth. If you're smart enough, truth is what you make the voter think it is. That's why I'm a Democrat. I can make the Democratic voters think whatever I want them to.
James Carville
Once we have broken free of the prejudices of our own provincially limited ecclesiastical, tribal, or national rendition of the world archetypes, it becomes possible to understand that the supreme initiation is not that of the local motherly fathers, who then project aggression onto the neighbors for their own defense. The good news, which the World Redeemer brings and which so many have been glad to hear, zealous to preach, but reluctant, apparently, to demonstrate, is that God is love, the He can be, and is to be, loved, and that all without exception are his children. Such comparatively trivial matters as the remaining details of the credo, the techniques of worship, and devices of episcopal organization (which have so absorbed the interest of Occidental theologians that they are today seriously discussed as the principal questions of religion), are merely pedantic snares, unless kept ancillary to the major teaching. Indeed, where not so kept, they have the regressive effect: they reduce the father image back again to the dimensions of the totem. And this, of course, is what has happened throughout the Christian world. One would think that we had been called upon to decide or to know whom, of all of us, the Father prefers. Whereas, the teaching is much less flattering: "Judge not, that ye be not judged." The World Savior's cross, in spite of the behavior of its professed priests, is a vastly more democratic symbol than the local flag.
Joseph Campbell (The Hero With a Thousand Faces)
It seems that a whole lot of people, both Christians and non-Christians, are under the impression that you can’t be a Christian and vote for a Democrat, you can’t be a Christian and believe in evolution, you can’t be a Christian and be gay, you can’t be a Christian and have questions about the Bible, you can’t be a Christian and be tolerant of other religions, you can’t be a Christian and be a feminist, you can’t be a Christian and drink or smoke, you can’t be a Christian and read the New York Times, you can’t be a Christian and support gay rights, you can’t be a Christian and get depressed, you can’t be a Christian and doubt. In fact, I am convinced that what drives most people away from Christianity is not the cost of discipleship but rather the cost of false fundamentals. False fundamentals make it impossible for faith to adapt to change. The longer the list of requirements and contingencies and prerequisites, the more vulnerable faith becomes to shifting environments and the more likely it is to fade slowly into extinction. When the gospel gets all entangled with extras, dangerous ultimatums threaten to take it down with them. The yoke gets too heavy and we stumble beneath it.
Rachel Held Evans (Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions)
We cannot, of course, expect every leader to possess the wisdom of Lincoln or Mandela’s largeness of soul. But when we think about what questions might be most useful to ask, perhaps we should begin by discerning what our prospective leaders believe it worthwhile for us to hear. Do they cater to our prejudices by suggesting that we treat people outside our ethnicity, race, creed or party as unworthy of dignity and respect? Do they want us to nurture our anger toward those who we believe have done us wrong, rub raw our grievances and set our sights on revenge? Do they encourage us to have contempt for our governing institutions and the electoral process? Do they seek to destroy our faith in essential contributors to democracy, such as an independent press, and a professional judiciary? Do they exploit the symbols of patriotism, the flag, the pledge in a conscious effort to turn us against one another? If defeated at the polls, will they accept the verdict, or insist without evidence they have won? Do they go beyond asking about our votes to brag about their ability to solve all problems put to rest all anxieties and satisfy every desire? Do they solicit our cheers by speaking casually and with pumped up machismo about using violence to blow enemies away? Do they echo the attitude of Musolini: “The crowd doesn’t have to know, all they have to do is believe and submit to being shaped.”? Or do they invite us to join with them in building and maintaining a healthy center for our society, a place where rights and duties are apportioned fairly, the social contract is honored, and all have room to dream and grow. The answers to these questions will not tell us whether a prospective leader is left or right-wing, conservative or liberal, or, in the American context, a Democrat or a Republican. However, they will us much that we need to know about those wanting to lead us, and much also about ourselves. For those who cherish freedom, the answers will provide grounds for reassurance, or, a warning we dare not ignore.
Madeleine K. Albright (Fascism: A Warning)
Pick a leader who will not only bail out banks and airlines, but also families from losing their homes -- or jobs due to their companies moving to other countries. Pick a leader who will fund schools, not limit spending on education and allow libraries to close. Pick a leader who chooses diplomacy over war. An honest broker in foreign relations. A leader with integrity, one who says what they mean, keeps their word and does not lie to their people. Pick a leader who is strong and confident, yet humble. Intelligent, but not sly. A leader who encourages diversity, not racism. One who understands the needs of the farmer, the teacher, the doctor, and the environmentalist -- not only the banker, the oil tycoon, the weapons developer, or the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyist.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
Long before it was known to me as a place where my ancestry was even remotely involved, the idea of a state for Jews (or a Jewish state; not quite the same thing, as I failed at first to see) had been 'sold' to me as an essentially secular and democratic one. The idea was a haven for the persecuted and the survivors, a democracy in a region where the idea was poorly understood, and a place where—as Philip Roth had put it in a one-handed novel that I read when I was about nineteen—even the traffic cops and soldiers were Jews. This, like the other emphases of that novel, I could grasp. Indeed, my first visit was sponsored by a group in London called the Friends of Israel. They offered to pay my expenses, that is, if on my return I would come and speak to one of their meetings. I still haven't submitted that expenses claim. The misgivings I had were of two types, both of them ineradicable. The first and the simplest was the encounter with everyday injustice: by all means the traffic cops were Jews but so, it turned out, were the colonists and ethnic cleansers and even the torturers. It was Jewish leftist friends who insisted that I go and see towns and villages under occupation, and sit down with Palestinian Arabs who were living under house arrest—if they were lucky—or who were squatting in the ruins of their demolished homes if they were less fortunate. In Ramallah I spent the day with the beguiling Raimonda Tawil, confined to her home for committing no known crime save that of expressing her opinions. (For some reason, what I most remember is a sudden exclamation from her very restrained and respectable husband, a manager of the local bank: 'I would prefer living under a Bedouin muktar to another day of Israeli rule!' He had obviously spent some time thinking about the most revolting possible Arab alternative.) In Jerusalem I visited the Tutungi family, who could produce title deeds going back generations but who were being evicted from their apartment in the old city to make way for an expansion of the Jewish quarter. Jerusalem: that place of blood since remote antiquity. Jerusalem, over which the British and French and Russians had fought a foul war in the Crimea, and in the mid-nineteenth century, on the matter of which Christian Church could command the keys to some 'holy sepulcher.' Jerusalem, where the anti-Semite Balfour had tried to bribe the Jews with the territory of another people in order to seduce them from Bolshevism and continue the diplomacy of the Great War. Jerusalem: that pest-house in whose environs all zealots hope that an even greater and final war can be provoked. It certainly made a warped appeal to my sense of history.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
What in water did Bloom, waterlover, drawer of water, watercarrier, returning to the range, admire? Its universality: its democratic equality and constancy to its nature in seeking its own level: its vastness in the ocean of Mercator's projection: its unplumbed profundity in the Sundam trench of the Pacific exceeding 8000 fathoms: the restlessness of its waves and surface particles visiting in turn all points of its seaboard: the independence of its units: the variability of states of sea: its hydrostatic quiescence in calm: its hydrokinetic turgidity in neap and spring tides: its subsidence after devastation: its sterility in the circumpolar icecaps, arctic and antarctic: its climatic and commercial significance: its preponderance of 3 to 1 over the dry land of the globe: its indisputable hegemony extending in square leagues over all the region below the subequatorial tropic of Capricorn: the multisecular stability of its primeval basin: its luteofulvous bed: its capacity to dissolve and hold in solution all soluble substances including millions of tons of the most precious metals: its slow erosions of peninsulas and islands, its persistent formation of homothetic islands, peninsulas and downwardtending promontories: its alluvial deposits: its weight and volume and density: its imperturbability in lagoons and highland tarns: its gradation of colours in the torrid and temperate and frigid zones: its vehicular ramifications in continental lakecontained streams and confluent oceanflowing rivers with their tributaries and transoceanic currents, gulfstream, north and south equatorial courses: its violence in seaquakes, waterspouts, Artesian wells, eruptions, torrents, eddies, freshets, spates, groundswells, watersheds, waterpartings, geysers, cataracts, whirlpools, maelstroms, inundations, deluges, cloudbursts: its vast circumterrestrial ahorizontal curve: its secrecy in springs and latent humidity, revealed by rhabdomantic or hygrometric instruments and exemplified by the well by the hole in the wall at Ashtown gate, saturation of air, distillation of dew: the simplicity of its composition, two constituent parts of hydrogen with one constituent part of oxygen: its healing virtues: its buoyancy in the waters of the Dead Sea: its persevering penetrativeness in runnels, gullies, inadequate dams, leaks on shipboard: its properties for cleansing, quenching thirst and fire, nourishing vegetation: its infallibility as paradigm and paragon: its metamorphoses as vapour, mist, cloud, rain, sleet, snow, hail: its strength in rigid hydrants: its variety of forms in loughs and bays and gulfs and bights and guts and lagoons and atolls and archipelagos and sounds and fjords and minches and tidal estuaries and arms of sea: its solidity in glaciers, icebergs, icefloes: its docility in working hydraulic millwheels, turbines, dynamos, electric power stations, bleachworks, tanneries, scutchmills: its utility in canals, rivers, if navigable, floating and graving docks: its potentiality derivable from harnessed tides or watercourses falling from level to level: its submarine fauna and flora (anacoustic, photophobe), numerically, if not literally, the inhabitants of the globe: its ubiquity as constituting 90 percent of the human body: the noxiousness of its effluvia in lacustrine marshes, pestilential fens, faded flowerwater, stagnant pools in the waning moon.
James Joyce (Ulysses)
Mainly, though, the Democratic Party has become the party of reaction. In reaction to a war that is ill conceived, we appear suspicious of all military action. In reaction to those who proclaim the market can cure all ills, we resist efforts to use market principles to tackle pressing problems. In reaction to religious overreach, we equate tolerance with secularism, and forfeit the moral language that would help infuse our policies with a larger meaning. We lose elections and hope for the courts to foil Republican plans. We lost the courts and wait for a White House scandal. And increasingly we feel the need to match the Republican right in stridency and hardball tactics. The accepted wisdom that drives many advocacy groups and Democratic activists these days goes like this: The Republican Party has been able to consistently win elections not by expanding its base but by vilifying Democrats, driving wedges into the electorate, energizing its right wing, and disciplining those who stray from the party line. If the Democrats ever want to get back into power, then they will have to take up the same approach. ...Ultimately, though, I believe any attempt by Democrats to pursue a more sharply partisan and ideological strategy misapprehends the moment we're in. I am convinced that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose. For it's precisely the pursuit of ideological purity, the rigid orthodoxy and the sheer predictability of our current political debate, that keeps us from finding new ways to meet the challenges we face as a country. It's what keeps us locked in "either/or" thinking: the notion that we can have only big government or no government; the assumption that we must either tolerate forty-six million without health insurance or embrace "socialized medicine". It is such doctrinaire thinking and stark partisanship that have turned Americans off of politics.
Barack Obama (The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream)
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. According to the science of biology, people were not ‘created’. They have evolved. And they certainly did not evolve to be ‘equal’. The idea of equality is inextricably intertwined with the idea of creation. The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God. However, if we do not believe in the Christian myths about God, creation and souls, what does it mean that all people are ‘equal’? Evolution is based on difference, not on equality. Every person carries a somewhat different genetic code, and is exposed from birth to different environmental influences. This leads to the development of different qualities that carry with them different chances of survival. ‘Created equal’ should therefore be translated into ‘evolved differently’. Just as people were never created, neither, according to the science of biology, is there a ‘Creator’ who ‘endows’ them with anything. There is only a blind evolutionary process, devoid of any purpose, leading to the birth of individuals. ‘Endowed by their creator’ should be translated simply into ‘born’. Equally, there are no such things as rights in biology. There are only organs, abilities and characteristics. Birds fly not because they have a right to fly, but because they have wings. And it’s not true that these organs, abilities and characteristics are ‘unalienable’. Many of them undergo constant mutations, and may well be completely lost over time. The ostrich is a bird that lost its ability to fly. So ‘unalienable rights’ should be translated into ‘mutable characteristics’. And what are the characteristics that evolved in humans? ‘Life’, certainly. But ‘liberty’? There is no such thing in biology. Just like equality, rights and limited liability companies, liberty is something that people invented and that exists only in their imagination. From a biological viewpoint, it is meaningless to say that humans in democratic societies are free, whereas humans in dictatorships are unfree. And what about ‘happiness’? So far biological research has failed to come up with a clear definition of happiness or a way to measure it objectively. Most biological studies acknowledge only the existence of pleasure, which is more easily defined and measured. So ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ should be translated into ‘life and the pursuit of pleasure’. So here is that line from the American Declaration of Independence translated into biological terms: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men evolved differently, that they are born with certain mutable characteristics, and that among these are life and the pursuit of pleasure.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
These are lines from my asteroid-impact novel, Regolith: Just because there are no laws against stupidity doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be punished. I haven’t faced rejection this brutal since I was single. He smelled trouble like a fart in the shower. If this was a kiss of gratitude, then she must have been very grateful. Not since Bush and Cheney have so few spent so much so fast for so long for so little. As a nympho for mind-fucks, Lisa took to politics like a pig to mud. She began paying men compliments as if she expected a receipt. Like the Aerosmith song, his get-up-and-go just got-up-and-went. “You couldn’t beat the crap out of a dirty diaper!” He embraced his only daughter as if she was deploying to Iraq. She was hotter than a Class 4 solar flare! If sex was a weapon, then Monique possessed WMD I haven’t felt this alive since I lost my virginity. He once read that 95% of women fake organism, and the rest are gay. Beauty may be in the eyes of the beholder, but ugly is universal. Why do wives fart, but not girlfriends? Adultery is sex that is wrong, but not necessarily bad. The dinosaurs stayed drugged out, drooling like Jonas Brothers fans. Silence filled the room like tear gas. The told him a fraction of the truth and hoped it would take just a fraction of the time. Happiness is the best cosmetic, He was a whale of a catch, and there were a lot of fish in the sea eager to nibble on his bait. Cheap hookers are less buck for the bang, Men cannot fall in love with women they don’t find attractive, and women cannot fall in love with men they do not respect. During sex, men want feedback while women expect mind-reading. Cooper looked like a cow about to be tipped over. His father warned him to never do anything he couldn’t justify on Oprah. The poor are not free -- they’re just not enslaved. Only those with money are free. Sperm wasn’t something he would choose on a menu, but it still tasted better than asparagus. The crater looked alive, like Godzilla was about to leap out and mess up Tokyo. Bush follows the Bible until it gets to Jesus. When Bush talks to God, it’s prayer; when God talks to Bush, it’s policy. Cheney called the new Miss America a traitor – apparently she wished for world peace. Cheney was so unpopular that Bush almost replaced him when running for re-election, changing his campaign slogan to, ‘Ain’t Got Dick.’ Bush fought a war on poverty – and the poor lost. Bush thinks we should strengthen the dollar by making it two-ply. Hurricane Katrina got rid of so many Democratic voters that Republicans have started calling her Kathleen Harris. America and Iraq fought a war and Iran won. Bush hasn’t choked this much since his last pretzel. Some wars are unpopular; the rest are victorious. So many conservatives hate the GOP that they are thinking of changing their name to the Dixie Chicks. If Saddam had any WMD, he would have used them when we invaded. If Bush had any brains, he would have used them when we invaded. It’s hard for Bush to win hearts and minds since he has neither. In Iraq, you are a coward if you leave and a fool if you stay. Bush believes it’s not a sin to kill Muslims since they are going to Hell anyway. And, with Bush’s help, soon. In Iraq, those who make their constitution subservient to their religion are called Muslims. In America they’re called Republicans. With great power comes great responsibility – unless you’re Republican.
Brent Reilly
To begin with, we have to be more clear about what we mean by patriotic feelings. For a time when I was in high school, I cheered for the school athletic teams. That's a form of patriotism — group loyalty. It can take pernicious forms, but in itself it can be quite harmless, maybe even positive. At the national level, what "patriotism" means depends on how we view the society. Those with deep totalitarian commitments identify the state with the society, its people, and its culture. Therefore those who criticized the policies of the Kremlin under Stalin were condemned as "anti-Soviet" or "hating Russia". For their counterparts in the West, those who criticize the policies of the US government are "anti-American" and "hate America"; those are the standard terms used by intellectual opinion, including left-liberal segments, so deeply committed to their totalitarian instincts that they cannot even recognize them, let alone understand their disgraceful history, tracing to the origins of recorded history in interesting ways. For the totalitarian, "patriotism" means support for the state and its policies, perhaps with twitters of protest on grounds that they might fail or cost us too much. For those whose instincts are democratic rather than totalitarian, "patriotism" means commitment to the welfare and improvement of the society, its people, its culture. That's a natural sentiment and one that can be quite positive. It's one all serious activists share, I presume; otherwise why take the trouble to do what we do? But the kind of "patriotism" fostered by totalitarian societies and military dictatorships, and internalized as second nature by much of intellectual opinion in more free societies, is one of the worst maladies of human history, and will probably do us all in before too long. With regard to the US, I think we find a mix. Every effort is made by power and doctrinal systems to stir up the more dangerous and destructive forms of "patriotism"; every effort is made by people committed to peace and justice to organize and encourage the beneficial kinds. It's a constant struggle. When people are frightened, the more dangerous kinds tend to emerge, and people huddle under the wings of power. Whatever the reasons may be, by comparative standards the US has been a very frightened country for a long time, on many dimensions. Quite commonly in history, such fears have been fanned by unscrupulous leaders, seeking to implement their own agendas. These are commonly harmful to the general population, which has to be disciplined in some manner: the classic device is to stimulate fear of awesome enemies concocted for the purpose, usually with some shreds of realism, required even for the most vulgar forms of propaganda. Germany was the pride of Western civilization 70 years ago, but most Germans were whipped to presumably genuine fear of the Czech dagger pointed at the heart of Germany (is that crazier than the Nicaraguan or Grenadan dagger pointed at the heart of the US, conjured up by the people now playing the same game today?), the Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy aimed at destroying the Aryan race and the civilization that Germany had inherited from Greece, etc. That's only the beginning. A lot is at stake.
Noam Chomsky
New Rule: Just because a country elects a smart president doesn't make it a smart country. A couple of weeks ago, I was asked on CNN if I thought Sarah Palin could get elected president, and I said I hope not, but I wouldn't put anything past this stupid country. Well, the station was flooded with emails, and the twits hit the fan. And you could tell that these people were really mad, because they wrote entirely in CAPITAL LETTERS!!! Worst of all, Bill O'Reilly refuted my contention that this is a stupid country by calling me a pinhead, which (a) proves my point, and (b) is really funny coming from a doody-face like him. Now, before I go about demonstration how, sadly, easy it is to prove the dumbness that's dragging us down, let me just say that ignorance has life-and-death consequences. On the eve of the Iraq War, seventy percent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Six years later, thirty-four percent still do. Or look at the health-care debate: At a recent town hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his congressman to "keep your government hands off my Medicare," which is kind of like driving cross-country to protest highways. This country is like a college chick after two Long Island iced teas: We can be talked into anything, like wars, and we can be talked out of anything, like health care. We should forget the town halls, and replace them with study halls. Listen to some of these stats: A majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is. Twenty-four percent could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War. More than two-thirds of Americans don't know what's in Roe v. Wade. Two-thirds don't know what the Food and Drug Administration does. Some of this stuff you should be able to pick up simply by being alive. You know, like the way the Slumdog kid knew about cricket. Not here. Nearly half of Americans don't know that states have two senators, and more than half can't name their congressman. And among Republican governors, only three got their wife's name right on the first try. People bitch and moan about taxes and spending, but they have no idea what their government spends money on. The average voter thinks foreign aid consumes more twenty-four percent of our budget. It's actually less than one percent. A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen ad a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, which is an absurd sentence, because it contains the words "Bush" and "knowledge." Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll say eighteen percent of us think the sun revolves around the earth. No, they're not stupid. They're interplanetary mavericks. And I haven't even brought up religion. But here's one fun fact I'll leave you with: Did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That's right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which came first. I rest my case.
Bill Maher (The New New Rules: A Funny Look At How Everybody But Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass)