Churchill on Democracy

Churchill on Democracy

Not by Churchill: “The best argu­ment against Democ­ra­cy is a five-minute con­ver­sa­tion with the aver­age voter.”

Desert News in Salt Lake City is the lat­est to pub­lish this red herring.

Com­mon­ly attrib­uted to him, but with no author­i­ty, this is not quite as cyn­i­cal as Win­ston Churchill could be—but not about Democracy.

Though he some­times despaired of Democracy’s slow­ness to act for its own preser­va­tion, Churchill had a  more pos­i­tive atti­tude towards the aver­age vot­er. On 31 Octo­ber 1944, for exam­ple, in the House of Commons:

 At the bot­tom of all the trib­utes paid to democ­ra­cy is the lit­tle man, walk­ing into the lit­tle booth, with a lit­tle pen­cil, mak­ing a lit­tle cross on a lit­tle bit of paper—no amount of rhetoric or volu­mi­nous dis­cus­sion can pos­si­bly dimin­ish the over­whelm­ing impor­tance of that point. —Churchill By Him­self, page 100 (a favorite of TV jour­nal­ist Chris Matthews).

His best known (but not orig­i­nal) remark about Democ­ra­cy came in the Com­mons on 11 Novem­ber 1947, but by his own admis­sion Churchill was quot­ing some­one else:

Indeed it has been said that democ­ra­cy is the worst form of Gov­ern­ment except for all those oth­er forms that have been tried from time to time. —Churchill By Him­self, page 583 (ital­ics mine).

More on this sub­ject in a pre­vi­ous post.

2 thoughts on “Churchill on Democracy

  1. Who DID orig­i­nal­ly make the com­ment about the 5-minute conversation?

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