Monday, July 04, 2011

The Quote File: America, Patriotism, Democracy, Government, Country

Americans are overreachers; overreaching is the most admirable of the many American excesses. — George F. Will

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. — Elmer Davis

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it. — George Bernard Shaw

Patriotism, n. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name. In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit it is the first. — Ambrose Bierce

The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause. A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business. — Eric Hoffer

Patriotism is proud of a country's virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country's virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, "the greatest", but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is. — Sydney J. Harris

The man who prefers his country before any other duty shows the same spirit as the man who surrenders every right to the state. They both deny that right is superior to authority. — Lord Acton

It is the very nature of a democracy that it not only does, but should, fight with one hand tied behind its back. It is also in the nature of democracy that it prevails against its enemies precisely because it does. — Michael Ignatieff

Democracy not only requires equality but also an unshakable conviction in the value of each person, who is then equal. — Jeane Kirkpatrick

Perhaps our national ambition to standardize ourselves has behind it the notion that democracy means standardization. But standardization is the surest way to destroy the initiative, to benumb the creative impulse above all else essential to the vitality and growth of democratic ideals. — Ida Tarbell 

Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time. — E. B. White

It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of one of those liberties which make the defense of our nation worthwhile. — Earl Warren

Anglo-Saxon civilization has taught the individual to protect his own rights; American civilization teaches him to respect the rights of others. — William Jennings Bryan

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. — Abraham Lincoln

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally  treasonable to the American public. — Theodore Roosevelt

The test of a democracy is not the magnificence of buildings or the speed of automobiles or the efficiency of air transportation, but rather the care given to the welfare of all the people. — Helen Keller

The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life - the sick, the needy and the handicapped. — Hubert Horatio Humphrey

No government can love a child, and no policy can substitute for a family's care. But at the same time, government can either support or undermine families as they cope with moral, social and economic stresses of caring for children. — Hillary Rodham Clinton

You measure a government by how few people need help. — Patricia Schroeder

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy? — Mohandas K. Gandhi

Political freedom cannot exist in any land where religion controls the state, and religious freedom cannot exist in any land where the state controls religion. — Samuel James Ervin Jr.

Society cannot exist without inequality of fortunes and the inequality of fortunes could not subsist without religion. Whenever a half-starved person is near another who is glutted, it is impossible to reconcile the difference if there is not an authority who tells him to. — Napoleon Bonaparte

The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics. — Thomas Sowell

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. — Thomas Jefferson

God created war so that Americans would learn geography. — Mark Twain

Nations, like metals, have only a superficial brilliancy. — Antoine de Rivarol

You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements. — Norman Douglas

History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other alternatives. — Abba Eban

To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right. — Confucius

The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. —  Thomas Paine

Perhaps the two most valuable and satisfactory products of American civilization are the librarian on the one hand and the cocktail in the other. — Louis Stanley Jast


  1. I must contribute, in video:

  2. These are wonderful. Thank you. Happy Independence Day!

  3. Thanks for all of these. Thought provoking and interesting. And I am suddenly reminded of Aretha belting out, as only she can, the song, "Freedom!" in the Blues Brothers movie (the first one). :)

  4. Thanks for these, Cheryl - I enjoyed reading them, and where the quotes took me...

  5. Can there be independence without interdependence?

    It's not the 4th anymore, but I've been reading a lot of WW2, considering the obvious place our nation should have been- and sometimes was- in hindsight, and what that has to do with today.
    Thanks for the thought.