Democracy - dictionary definition

Democracy can mean a government or organization where all the citizens or members have a say in decisions, usually with majority rule. Democracy can also be used to communicate a general spirit of social equality. Democracy is “rule by the people” — and how democratic a government is depends on who is really included in “the people.” Thus, in the ancient seat of democracy, Greece, women and slaves didn’t have a say in the decisions about public power. Today, many would assert that wealth gives more power to some in political decisions. Today, political democracy is generally used to mean inclusion of all citizens with equal voices in decision-making.

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We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.

— Abraham Lincoln

The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal … is the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.

— Adlai Stevenson II

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

All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it.

— Alexis de Tocqueville

No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.

— Alexis de Tocqueville

Identity politics is the radical notion that your worldview is shaped by your experiences and history and that those experiences will vary in relationship to the power a group or an individual has in the economy, society, or democracy.

— Alicia Garza, The Purpose of Power

The earth is ready, the time is ripe, for the authoritative expression of the feminine as well as the masculine interpretation of that common social consensus which is slowly writing justice in the State and fraternity in the social order.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

If we desire a society of peace, then we cannot achieve such a society through violence. If we desire a society without discrimination, then we must not discriminate against anyone in the process of building this society. If we desire a society that is democratic, then democracy must become a means as well as an end.

— Bayard Rustin

The principal factors which influenced my life are 1) nonviolent tactics; 2) constitutional means; 3) democratic procedures; 4) respect for human personality; 5) a belief that all people are one.

— Bayard Rustin

If democracy is to survive… It requires that we engage regularly and permanently in political discourse.
Speechlessness may be the most debilitating form of powerlessness. And the one thing we can be sure of is that democracy cannot be talked to death.

— Benjamin R. Barber

Well the protester I think is a very powerful thing. It’s basically a mechanism of democracy that, along with capitalism, scientific innovation, those things have built the modern world. And it’s wonderful that the new tools have empowered that protestor so that state secrets, bad developments are not hidden anymore.

— Bill Gates

Democracy belongs to those who exercise it.

— Bill Moyers

You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.

— Cornel West

I hope for an America where we can all contend freely and vigorously, but where we will treasure and guard those standards of civility which alone make this nation safe for both democracy and diversity.

— Edward Kennedy

When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong. The minority are right.

— Eugene V. Debs

I have just as much right to stay in America — in fact, the black people have contributed more to America than any other race, because our kids have fought here for what was called “democracy”; our mothers and fathers were sold and bought here for a price. So all I can say when they say “go back to Africa,” I say “when you send the Chinese back to China, the Italians back to Italy, etc., and you get on that Mayflower from whence you came, and give the Indians their land back, who really would be here at home?”

— Fannie Lou Hamer

With the people, for the people, by the people. I crack up when I hear it; I say, with the handful, for the handful, by the handful, cause that’s what really happens.

— Fannie Lou Hamer

This thing they say of “the land of the free and the home of the brave” is all on paper. It doesn’t really mean anything to us. The only way we can make this thing a reality in America is to do all we can to destroy this system and bring this out to the light that has been under the cover all these years.

— Fannie Lou Hamer

The only thing I really feel is necessary is that the black people, not only in Mississippi, will have to actually upset this applecart. What I mean by that is, so many things are under the cover that will have to be swept out and shown to this whole world, not just to America. This thing they say of “the land of the free and the home of the brave” is all on paper.

— Fannie Lou Hamer

In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.

— Fran Lebowitz

To me democracy is an exciting, living practice, what we do every day. To most democracy doesn’t relate to our daily lives and it sure isn’t much fun. I now see that to engage in democracy, to jump into this living practice we all need something tangible to act on…

— Frances Moore Lappé, Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet

Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but by a scarcity of democracy.

— Frances Moore Lappé

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

I hate war for its consequences, for the lies it lives on and propagates, for the undying hatreds it arouses, for the dictatorships it puts in the place of democracies, and for the starvation that stalks after it. I hate war, and never again will I sanction or support another.

— Harry Emerson Fosdick

Of course I believe in free enterprise, but in my system of free enterprise, the democratic principle is that there never was, never has been, never will be, room for the ruthless exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few.

— Harry S Truman

At every turn when there has been an imbalance of power, the truth questioned, or our beliefs and values distorted, the change required to restore our nation has always come from the bottom up from our people.

— Howard Dean

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’

— Isaac Asimov

I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.

— James Baldwin

The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.

— Jane Addams

We have learned to say that the good must be extended to all of society before it can be held secure by any one person or class; but we have not yet learned to add to that statement, that unless all [people] and all classes contribute to a good, we cannot even be sure that it is worth having.

— Jane Addams
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