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.…
Tests of Freedom: Italy 1944, Iran 2009
The distressing repression following the recent Iranian election reminds us once again of Churchill’s eternal relevance. In the House of Commons on 28 August 1944, he was asked how he would judge whether the new Italian government, about to replace the Fascist dictatorship of Mussolini, was a true democracy. Churchill replied:
The question arises, “What is freedom?” There are one or two quite simple, practical tests by which it can be known in the modern world in peace conditions—namely:
Is there the right to free expression of opinion and of opposition and criticism of the Government of the day?…