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

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

When we talk about the word ‘socialism,’ I think what it really means is just democratic participation in our economic dignity and our economic, social, and racial dignity. It is about direct representation and people actually having power and stake over their economic and social wellness, at the end of the day.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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

— Alexis de Tocqueville

Not only does democracy make every man forget his ancestors, but also clouds their view of their descendants and isolates them from their contemporaries. Each man is for ever thrown back on himself alone, and there is danger that he may be shut up in the solitude of his own heart.

— Alexis de Tocqueville

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

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 liberty and equality… are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.

— Aristotle

Democracy [is] when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.

— Aristotle

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 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

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

We can never surrender to democracy’s enemies. We can never allow America to be defined by forces of division and hatred. We can never go backward in the progress we have made through the sacrifice and dedication of true patriots. We can never and will never relent in our pursuit of a more perfect union with liberty and justice for all Americans.

— Bennie Thompson

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 may not prove in the long run to be as efficient as other forms of government, but it has one saving grace: it allows us to know and say that it isn’t.

— Bill Moyers

Democracy belongs to those who exercise it.

— Bill Moyers

A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won’t cross the street to vote in a national election.

— Bill Vaughan

When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.

— Charles Evan Hughes

Tyranny is always better organized than freedom.

— Charles Peguy

One has the right to be wrong in a democracy.

— Claude Pepper

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

Evangelicalism created a safe harbor for white people who wanted to be counted as Christians without having to accept what ecumenical leaders said were the social obligations demanded by the gospel, especially the imperative to extend civil equality to nonwhites.

— David Hollinger

History suggests that even in a full democracy, the risk that the 5,000 will dominate is much greater than the threat that the 5,000,000 will expropriate the 5,000.

— David Stasavage

The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.

— Edward Dowling

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

Social democracy seeks and finds the ways, and particular slogans, of the workers’ struggle only in the course of the development of this struggle, and gains directions for the way forward through this struggle alone.

— Emma Goldman

They tell us that we live in a great free republic; that our institutions are democratic; that we are a free and self-governing people. This is too much, even for a joke. But it is not a subject for levity; it is an exceedingly serious matter.

— Eugene V. Debs
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