The political constitution of the United States is in my view one form that democracy can give to its government. But I do not believe that American institutions are the only or best ones that a democratic people may adopt.
 The laws of American democracy are often defective or incomplete. [what nation's laws are not this way?] Some of them violate established rights or sanction dangerous ones. [what of British rights before the revolution?] Even if all the laws were good, the frequency of new legislation would still be a great evil. They can be demonstrated by obvious facts, while the salutary influence of democratic government is exerted in an imperceptible, not to say occult, manner.
The flaws and weaknesses of democratic government are easy to see. Its defects are striking at first glance, but its virtues reveal themselves only over the long run. All this is apparent at a glance.
The laws of democracy generally tend toward the good of the many, for they emanate from the majority of all citizens, who may be mistaken but cannot be in conflict of interest with themselves.. . .the aim of legislation in a democracy is more useful to humanity than that of legislation in an aristocracy.. . . of democracy: its laws are almost always defective or ill-timed.. . . elsewhere: the great privilege of the Americans is the ability to make errors that can be corrected.. . . Note first that if government officials in a democratic state are less honest or less capable, the people they govern are more enlightened and more alert.. . . that if the democratic official makes poorer use of power than others, he generally holds power for a shorter time.. . . What, then, is the advantage of democracy? The real advantage of democracy is not, as some say, to promote the prosperity of all but merely to foster the well-being of the greater number.. . . In the United States, where public officials have no class interest to vindicate, the general and constant process of government is beneficial, though government officials are often inept and sometimes contemptible. Underlying democratic institutions there is thus a hidden tendency that often leads men to contribute, despite their faults and errors, to the general prosperity, while in aristocratic institutions there is at times a secret proclivity that encourages them, for all their talents and virtues, to contribute to the miseries of mankind. Public men in aristocratic governments may do harm without intending to, while in democracies they may do good without recognizing it.
There is also an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents; for with these it would belong to the first class. The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society. And indeed it would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom enough to manage the concerns of the society. May we not even say that that form of government is the best which provides the most effectually for a pure selection of these natural aristoi into the offices of government? The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provision should be made to prevent it's ascendancy.Thomas Jeffeson to John Adams, 28 Oct. 1813 http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founde...
the federal government is concerned with little other than foreign affairs; American society is really ruled by the state governments.
The omnipotence of the majority and the rapid and absolute way in which its wishes are carried out in the United States not only make the law unstable but exert a similar influence on the execution of the law and the actions of the public administration.
Thought is an invisible, almost intangible power that makes a mockery of tyranny in all its forms.
A king’s only power is material, moreover: it affects actions but has no way of influencing wills. In the majority, however, is vested a force that is moral as well as material, which shapes wills as much as actions and inhibits not only deeds but also the desire to do them. I know of no country where there is in general less independence of mind and true freedom of discussion than in America.
If these lines are ever read in America, I am sure of two things: first, that all of my readers, to a man, will speak out to condemn me, and second, that in the depths of their conscience many of them will absolve me of any wrong.
It guards equally against that extreme facility which would render the Constitution too mutable; and that extreme difficulty which might perpetuate its discovered faults. It moreover equally enables the General and the State Governments to originate the amendment of errors, as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side, or on the other.
“Lawyers in the United States constitute a power that arouses little fear, that is barely perceived, that flies no banner of its own, that supplely bends to the exigencies of the times and surrenders without resistance to every movement of the social body. Yet it envelopes the whole of society, worms its way into each of the constituent classes, works on the society in secret, influences it constantly without its knowledge, and in the end shapes it to its own desires.”
"God works wonders now and then: Behold a lawyer, an honest man.""A countryman between two lawyers is like a fish between two cats.""Necessity knows no law. I know some attorneys of the same.""Lawyers, Preachers and Tomits Eggs, there are more of them hatched than come to perfection."
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