Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson, (1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President

Questionable Thomas Jefferson Quote

“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson
~ Thomas Jefferson

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Ratings and Comments

cal, lewisville, tx

It does not take 51% of the people anymore-it just takes a majority of the Supreme Court. It's like, "to hell with the voters-we know what's best for you!"

zeitgeist, la crescenta, ca

This is absolutely true. Unfortunately, people today believe the founding fathers brought a democracy to this new nation. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was originally created as a Constitutional Republic with a constitution made to restrict what the government could do and empower the States and the People – not the other way around. This was such an important idea that it was not only implicit in the body of the work itself but brought forth, once again, in the form of the Tenth Amendment. The fathers of yesterday wouldn't recognize this country at all.

J Carlton, Calgary

Stalin would have loved the notion of democracy. The Fed does whatever it wants and the sheep believe they have some influence...brilliant. I think it was also Jefferson who said "Democracy is two wolves and lamb voting on what to have for lunch".

Mike, Norwalk

J Carlton, it was Benjamin Franklin ;-)

Waffler, Smith

Even though it is questionable it is partly true. A correct understanding of Democracy and what I was taught in school is that it also entails a great respect for the freedoms ensconced in the Bill of Rights especially Free Speech. After everone has their say and vote I would much rather have the larger mob rule than the smaller mob. Human nature and common sense being what it is (an assumtion that each individual is equal in their right to have a say) it is only right that the larger number should decide an issue rather than the smaller number. Why is this so difficult to understand.

Bryan Morton, Stuart, FL

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers.

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler, to answer you question, that shallow concept is very easy to understand. Why is it so difficult to understand that in the U.S. it is considered by legal premise, that all men are created equal and all rights are endowed by their creator thus, making such issues beyond the authority of a majority or a minority. It only takes one baby step level up to understand the concept that rights come from a Creator and are beyond the mob's (majority or minority) ability or authority to give, modify, or take away. California's issue with gay marriage is an excellent example. Marriage is a religious issue of right, legitimately and lawfully outside the secular mob's right to redefine or control.

E Archer, NYC

Alright then, are we FINALLY getting close to admitting that a democracy with no limits to its reach and jurisdiction is NOT the type of government that was established in America and that in fact a true democracy is indeed mob rule? And given that fact, the Constitution is a charter written to strictly define the areas of jurisprudence and jurisdiction for each branch of government including the only 'democractically' elected body, Congress, and what it may do within its proper spheres? The American system is one of limits, checks, and balances. No amount of free speech can increase these limits by vote or remove the checks against the abuse of power. Can we not agree that the US is in fact NOT a democracy, isn't supposed to be a democracy, and will in fact never become a democracy without violating the proper limits imposed by the natural and inalienable rights of the People? The US government is therefore a Constitutionally-limited democratic republic, if that covers all the bases. Never forget, though, that those seeking power, seeking to break the limits imposed by the Constitution, will ever promote the idea of 'democracy' because it is easier to sway the passions of the masses than to break laws outright. The elected majority must follow the rules just like everyone else, even if they are in the majority. The dangers are of course as we see today, that the unrestrained majority will loot the resources of the minority and the rest of the country -- and the true intent is unavoidable, not a kind and fair democracy, but a collective totalitarianism in which the populace is without property, in debt, without means for defense, without means to produce for themselves, and conditioned for dependence and the war on this and the war on that. The intelligent will always be in the minority, the debtless will be in the minority, the armed will be in the minority, and for that reason we should remember that in the American republic, our rights come first, and no vote can take them away.

J Carlton, Calgary

"it is only right that the larger number should decide an issue rather than the smaller number. Why is this so difficult to understand." ???? Well, its not at all difficult to understand. In fact its quite simple really. When a majority of the population is voting to get more things from the government, leaving the minority to pay for most of it...we have a non functional system of theft and corruption. I Understand. And that's why I tell people to vote Libertarian or not at all.

Mike, Norwalk

Archer, you're on a roll today, said well - the force must be with you ;-).

J Carlton, Calgary

Thanks Mike.

Waffler, Smith

Mike the other day you said that Courts and Judges should listen to public opinion. I disagreed, I think they should judge according to the law. However when it comes to non-court issues, or policy issues I believe that the method we have throughout our society from work groups, to Corporate Board Rooms to local, state, and national elections of the rule of the majority is the only way for a free people to go. And Judges can and are often elected, so if their decisions are unsavory to the majority they can also be removed by the 51%.

Logan, Memphis, TN

Amen, and Amen. I guess Waffler just about said it all: "A correct understanding of Democracy and what I was taught in school is that..." Ah, yes. It all makes sense now. Jefferson is correct, as were all the Founders who hated and despised Democracy; a Republican form of Government that adhered to Natural Law is the best form of government yet created. It is sad that -- through revisionism -- we have changed the original meaning of words (as spoken by our Founders) to contort to new convoluted theories.

Charles, Florence, CO

That's why we have a Republic, the minority views are protected. Not so in a Democracy. A lynch mob is democratic, the will of the majority rules period. Read the preamble to the constitution and the Constitution, you never find the word democracy once, but the Constitution guarantees to every state a Republican form of government.


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