Churchill’s Average Voter

Churchill’s Average Voter

(Or: “Churchillian Drift,” Part 1,398….)

Sher­iff Court, 1908: vot­ers acclaim Churchill’s elec­tion as Lib­er­al Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Dundee. (Illus­trat­ed Lon­don News)

On the eve of the British Gen­er­al Elec­tion, Metro UK declares: “Win­ston Churchill said the best argu­ment against democ­ra­cy is a five-minute con­ver­sa­tion with the aver­age voter.”

This is alas a reap­pear­ance of an ever-pop­u­lar red-her­ring quote that Churchill nev­er said.

Churchill had thought­ful cri­tiques of democ­ra­cy. See in par­tic­u­lar his essay on “Mass Effects in Mod­ern Life” in his book, Thoughts and Adven­tures. But he also had more respect for the aver­age vot­er than this non-quote sug­gests. In the House of Com­mons on 31 Octo­ber 1944 he said:

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 [we still vote that way in New Hampshire]—no amount of rhetoric or volu­mi­nous dis­cus­sion can pos­si­bly dimin­ish the over­whelm­ing impor­tance of that point.

Churchill’s faith in the peo­ple to elect sen­si­ble can­di­dates is the cause of some debate on both sides of the Atlantic these days. And yet the fabled “Lit­tle Man” has always been able to vote-in the right can­di­date at the right time, occa­sion­al­ly in last-ditch sit­u­a­tions. Of course Churchill assumed the lit­tle man would be car­ry­ing some valid form of vot­er ID….

—From remarks at the Hills­dale Col­lege Nation­al Lead­er­ship Sem­i­nar, “Churchill’s True Great­ness: Lessons for Today,” Den­ver, April 21st.

One thought on “Churchill’s Average Voter

  1. Very well said. I think Churchill was the vic­tim of a high­ly orga­nized cam­paign of dis­in­for­ma­tion. I have read many reports about his indif­fer­ence to the com­mon per­son or even his pos­si­ble pref­er­ence of fas­cism over democ­ra­cy all of which were fab­ri­ca­tions. But such was the hatred of the Hard Left of Britain. My father and grand­fa­ther had direct con­tact with such peo­ple and many read pro-Com­mu­nist news­pa­pers which would real­ly have done any­thing or said any­thing to get an elec­toral advan­tage. But as the years goes by who looks bet­ter -the Left and their dic­ta­tors Stal­in, Mao, Cas­tro- or Win­ston Churchill? Thanks again for that won­der­ful Churchill quote on Democ­ra­cy. I like it so much I will include it on my final exam in his­to­ry this year!

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